It’s so humid and gross in DC during the summer, and I’ve been thinking a lot about a beach getaway recently. A real beach, not what passes for a beach here in the DMV (sorry, Virginia Beach enthusiasts.)
I’m actually not even a big beachgoer, at least not when it comes to sitting in my reclining lawn chair and working on my tan while reading the latest off the New York Times bestseller list, or whatever it is that my mom does when she goes the beach. To me, the beach has been a place to dry off and relax with a tropical drink before jumping back into the water for the next round of your water sport of choice. I came to loathe my time in Hawaii (see: any of my posts before August 2014) but the one thing I do miss is the ocean and all that it has to offer.
If I were to be specific, I would have to say that I miss the underwater activities most of all. It’s ironic to say that, since Hawaii actually has pretty sub-par snorkeling and diving compared to many of the other places I’ve been. I remember working on my scuba certification off the coast of Honolulu, and thinking “wait, this is the best you have? Some nasty half-dead coral on a pipeline? I’ve seen better coral reefs in Guam. Guam, people!” But I digress.
My favorite beach & ocean vacation ever was the tropical paradise of Palau, an island nation in the western Pacific known its limestone rock islands and some of the most amazing scuba diving in the world.
The downside is that it’s not cheap or easy to get there, at least not from the States. Most flight itineraries go through Hawaii and Guam, since there are regular flights between Guam and Palau a few times a week. It’s far easier to get there from Asia; when Chuck and I went in 2011, we’d both been stationed in Japan at the time, so fortunately hopping on a flight south wasn’t too hard.
However, if you have the extra time and cash, and want a unique island getaway experience? You won’t be sorry, trust me.
We landed in Koror, the capital city, to spend the first of our four nights there. “City” is a rather generous term; if you’re expecting a hopping nightlife, you’ll be disappointed. But no one goes to Palau to go clubbing anyway.
For the next three days, we set off for the Carp Island resort, which is on one of the smaller islands. There are several cabins, but at the time we went (mid-August) it was practically deserted. If you ever wanted to hang out on your own private island with that special someone, this is your chance!
I should point out that I wasn’t scuba certified at the time we went, so when Chuck went diving I stayed near the surface and snorkeled. To tell the truth, I didn’t feel like I was missing out at all. The water is so beautiful and clear, the coral reefs are amazing, and there’s plenty of sea life to see even if you’re not diving. Don’t feel like you have to be able to scuba in order to take advantage of the undersea adventures that Palau has to offer!
After our few days on the private island, we headed back to Koror. On our way back, our boat driver was kind enough to stop by several of the island’s most well-known sites, such as the famous Jellyfish Lake.
We also stopped for more snorkeling.
We had a free day at the end of our trip, so we decided to go deep sea fishing. I was excited since I had never been before, and had visions of catching giant marlin on the high seas like they do on TV. I conveniently forgot about the “high seas” part, and discovered for the first time that being on a small boat way out in the middle of the ocean may not be the best thing for me or my poor stomach. (A lesson that I would learn many times, several years later whenever Chuck dragged me on one of his longer sailing trips.)
Too bad I was so sick, because we caught plenty of fish. (No marlin, though.)
Looking at these pictures is almost physically painful, especially since I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back in the water, let alone go all the way to Palau. And I haven’t even covered the diving sites such as the wrecks of Peleliu that I would love to see someday. I’ll just have to live vicariously through those of you who are out diving and snorkeling. In the meantime, there are swimming pools in DC.