If you have spent time kayaking in waters that are dark and below freezing you can imagine how extraordinary it is to be gliding around crystal clear waters that remain a constant 28 degrees. With water temperature that can be warmer than the air temperature and copious amounts of sea life and coral every time you glance into the water, it really would be a stretch to find anywhere nicer to dip your paddle.
Organizing an independent kayak and camping trip in this area isn’t easy. I found most companies quite unwilling to share very much information unless you were going to drop some serious coin. In the end, we rented kayaks and gear from Sam’s Tours, Jayden and Louis are two of the kayak staff from Sam’s and were helpful and forthcoming with information about where to camp and see the best corals and marine life.
I’ve compiled some very useful information to get you started planning your trip. If there is anything I have forgotten, or you have any questions, please let me know, and I’ll update the details below.
Where to Rent a Kayak: Regardless if you are a sea or river kayaker, or just a novice, I would highly recommend renting a plastic sit on top kayak that also has watertight storage. Living on the west coast of British Columbia I love my secure fiberglass sea kayak, but in the Rock Islands you want to just roll out and snorkel whenever it suits you, which will be quite often.
Planning Your Meals/How and What to Cook: In downtown Koror, you will find there are two main grocery stores and a handful of specialty stores to purchase your supplies. It is a good idea to plan your meals well in advance. REMEMBER.. it can be sweltering hot in Palau, you will want a good amount of water and food that is easy to store in your boat as well as easy to cook and won’t go off in the heat.
Here are a few ideas:
- Pasta and Sauce – Purchase sauce in a glass jar and you can reuse it for several things on your trip.
- Fruit Cups – These are a sweet treat at night and mix well with a bit of vodka in the evening.
- Sandwiches – If you would like these during the day I would recommend Bagels. They keep very well in the heat, and if you eat meat, a type of Salami or Pepperoni will keep well for at least a few days. If you purchase cheese, It’s a good idea to choose a wheel (or two) of Brie. A jar of Peanut Butter is also filling and keeps well.
- Cup of Soups – Even though it’s warm at night they are essential to bring along, as the salt they contain will rehydrate your body after a long day of sweating in the sun. You should have one of these a day.
- Salad Kits – Bags of salad that come with all the trimmings are great, you must eat them within the first 48 hours, or they are pretty gross.
- Chunky Soup – Hardy meals tin cans are also a good choice; they are filling and again easy to prepare with minimal clean-up.
- Couscous – An excellent side dish that is easy to make.
- Chips – Pringle’s especially are great, they won’t get crushed in your boat and will survive pretty much anything.
- Granola/Fruit/Energy Bars – Easy to store and easy to eat, what more do you want?
- Juice Crystals – I wouldn’t suggest bringing big things you don’t need, like cans of pop, instead bring some juice crystals if you don’t fancy drinking water all the time.
- Pancake Mix and Maple Syrup – Okay I’m Canadian, but this is nice when camping, a bit sticky to clean up, but a wonderful way to start the day and very easy to make. Make sure you get the “just add water” mix.
- Eggs, Pepper, Spices in Wrap – Scramble a couple of eggs, add a wee bit of chopped pepper and some of your Brie from your lunch box and wrap it up in a wrap, Another great breakfast, yummy!
- A Box of Large and Small Freezer Zip Lock Bags – This is IMPORTANT! You can store your garbage in these when you have finished cooking, and they can separate your food, like some meat or the cheese, this will ensure if something spills or spoils not everything else gets ruined.
A note about coconut water: If you open a coconut to drink make, sure you consume it within a few hours. If you store it for the next day, it will be rancid by the morning.
Dangers: A map and tide table are essential in this area, without these essentials you could very well start paddling out to Japan. The company you rent your kayaks from should supply these, I’ve heard more than one story about people who didn’t check their gear and didn’t get a map. The islands are a huge maze, and proper planning is essential. The tide changes quite quickly, so be sure you are not snorkeling or paddling too close to the coral, you will not only hurt yourself but also the coral if you don’t pay attention.
The Milky Way is famous for its white mud, a lot of the tourist’s that come here (99% of the time they are on a day trip) will get in the water and rub themselves with this mud which is finely ground coral, for the love of god please DO NOT do this! My husband and I did this and then spent the next 24 hours itching and tried to get this stuff out of our pores, not a pleasant experience, yes this is where you imagine it and laugh.
Weather: Most days in Palau it’s about 28 degrees, but can get down to 24. June to August are the wettest months and February to March the driest. I was in Palau in September and camping on these islands was a very intensely hot experience! At about 7 pm it seemed to get much more humid, and there was no wind, for a few days it was very unpleasant.
What to Sleep in and Under: Tents are not ideal in this climate, I suffered in the night when it seemed to get hotter than in the day. I would recommend sleeping in a hammock; you can rent them or buy them in Koror, buying one is about $50 or less. I wore as little as possible sleeping, okay nothing and was still too warm. I would not sleep outdoors on the ground as dozens of Hermit crabs come out at night, it’s a fantastic site, but would not care for them crawling over me while I tried to sleep.
Favorite Places: Lost Lake, Deserted Islands, Disneyland, Seahorse Cove, Milky Way, Mangroves. All of these areas were amazing. If you choose to rent kayaks from Sam’s they will give you maps for these regions.
Where to Stay Before Your Trip: This one is easier than Trip Advisor makes it out to be, you’re going kayaking, so really does it matter where you initially stay before you start your trip? Well, it depends on you, how fussy you are and how much you want to spend.
Sea Passion Hotel was where we stayed before, and after the trip, we had a beautiful room, view, snorkeling right from the hotel (the only hotel in Palau that you can do this). Only it a bit was pricey at about $150., but if you can afford it and you want something close to Sam’s Tours this place is a good option. There is also an excellent pub, The Drop Off, a 5-minute walk from the hotel.
I heard rave reviews about the Penthouse Hotel in downtown Koror. Rooms there were going for about $60 a night, and the hotel had a great vibe. So many people recommended it that I wanted to include in this post, they are doing something right!
Getting There: Palau is not an easy destination to get to, you’ll need to fly into Roman Tmetuchl International Airport on the main island of Babeldaob, and if you are coming from anywhere except Asia you should expect at least one flight change. Also, the airfare can be costly, again unless you are flying from Asia, where I’ve found you can get a flight to Palau for about $300.
Useful Sites for More Information: While I was doing research for my trip I found a few very helpful website that had some great information, hopefully; they will help you as well.
An independent kayaking trip in Palau is an experience you will never forget. If you are okay with a few bumps in the road during your planning, doing a lot of research and spending your days gliding through the turquoise water, watching beautiful scenery go by and snorkeling in warm waters, then this trip is for you.