Palau, a small island nation in Micronesia is a beautiful tropical world of diving, snorkeling and jungle. Several inhabited islands are set within a fringing reef along with 250-300 uprises known as the Rock Islands. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, these islands contain the largest concentration of marine lakes on the planet.
One of these marine lakes offers a not to be missed opportunity to float among a swarm of jellyfish without being stung. Twelve thousand years ago, as ocean levels rose and fell, marine lakes were formed on the Rock Islands, isolated from the sea. On Eli Malk island, trapped jellyfish lost their ability to sting and evolved to their unique habitat within the lake.
In a symbiotic relationship with the algae that the jellyfish incorporate into their bodies, they follow the sun around their lake. Photosynthesis by the algae produces the energy the jellyfish need to live.
To get to Jellyfish Lake requires a 45 minute boat ride from Koror Island, and a $35.00 fee. You can organize boats thru one of the diving or activities companies. Your hotel can also help arrange transport or you could negotiate with a local boatman.
Bring water, a hat, snorkel and mask, but no fins, in order to protect the delicate bodies of the jellyfish. It’s also a good idea to have a pair of decent shoes with you, since the short trail from the boat dock is a bit steep and rocky.
Once at the lake, enter the warm water and begin to swim toward the swarm. At first encounter with the jellyfish, the natural instinct is to recoil, but you will soon overcome that reaction as you get further into the densest part of the group. There you will be enveloped by jellyfish of all sizes, from the size of a quarter, up to those about the size of a melon.
As you float along in the swarm with the sun’s rays streaming thru the water and the bodies of the jellyfish, you will truly feel as if you have entered another world. The sensation of swimming slowly thru the jellyfish is like moving thru a bowl of jello. It’s a unique experience to be part of this gelatinous environment, and one you won't soon forget.
If you go:
United Airlines has flights from the U.S. to Micronesia
Accomodations are available on Koror
Sams Tours offers boat rides to Eli Malk island along with diving, kayaking and other activities