Thursday & Friday, November 1 & 2, 2012: U.S. / Palau
Depart on your independent flight Thursday morning. Cross the International
Date Line and “lose” a day, arriving in Palau Friday evening. Transfer to our beachside resort. Palau Pacific Resort (Meals aloft)
Saturday, November 3: Palau
Awaken on the shores of a lovely Palauan lagoon and head to the on-site dock to join the group for a day of snorkeling. Go to Lolita’s Coral Gardens – Palau’s finest Acropora reef comprised of giant table corals, thick stands of staghorn corals and luxuriant bottlebrush corals. Angelfish, butterfly fish and damsels are plentiful here. As you ride through Fantasy Lake in the Rock Islands, look for such bird species as black noddies, sulfur-crested cockatoos and Palauan fantails. Make an afternoon snorkeling stop at Mandarin Fish Lake – actually a shallow bay – and a safe haven for shy, jewel-toned mandarin fish. Enjoy cruising back to the resort as the sun sets.. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L,D)
Sunday & Monday, November 4 & 5: Palau
Spend two full days snorkeling at some of Palau’s hidden underwater treasures. A short boat ride takes you through a secret tunnel entrance to a land-locked marine lake, where you can snorkel over a carpet of multicolored soft corals, neon-colored clams and numerous fish species. Discover Giant Clam Beach, a protected preserve and home to Palau’s largest bivalves, and swim at Rainbow Reef, one of Palau’s finest shallow snorkeling habitats. A gentle current floods the multi-colored brain corals at Kingfisher Bay with
nutrients. And the brilliantly colored Milky Way is a cove whose water is cloudy from limestone deposits.
You’ll also have an opportunity to kayak through a marine tunnel into Disney Lake, with its stalactite-filled Cathedral Cave, a reef fish nursery called Lettuce Coral Wall and Rembrandt’s Cove, a coral-spawning site. And paddle through sheltered Nikko Bay, where you can snorkel among coral gardens and hidden marine caves. Lectures complement your daily outings Palau Pacific Resort (B,L,D daily)
Tuesday & Wednesday, November 6 & 7: Palau
Snorkel at Soft Coral Arch, a natural archway with a gentle current, and at Cemetery Reef, with its lettuce coral, anemones and triggerfish. Enjoy a traditional beach barbecue lunch at Ulong Island. Stroll along the beach and trek into the forest to explore an ancient Palauan village. Drift snorkel through Ulong Channel, where schools of spawning grouper carefully guard their territory. Keep an eye out for reef sharks, schools of barracuda and giant trevalley; though encounters are a spine-tingling experience, these fish do not pose a threat.
Discover a variety of undersea life at Turtle Cove and Ngedebus Gardens, including marine turtles, cuttlefish, anemones, tradacna clams, rainbow-colored gobies and thousands of small schooling fish. Between snorkeling stops, your guide discusses how to identify certain fish species and elaborates on fish behavior. As you weave among the rock islands by boat and head back to the resort in the late afternoon, look for parrots, cockatoos and flying foxes.
You’ll have opportunities these two nights to enjoy dinner on your own at one of the resort’s oceanside restaurants or at a restaurant of your choice in town a short taxi ride away.. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L daily)
Thursday, November 8: Palau
In the morning, visit the Belau National Museum, with its exhibits of Palauan art and history. See a traditional men’s house, called a bai, and enjoy a Palauan lunch under the shaded trees in a forest. The afternoon is free to enjoy the resort’s amenities, including snorkeling from the beach, walking along nature trails and exploring the well-maintained orchid gardens. Or opt for a hike through a nearby rain forest. Gather for a Palauan version of a shabu-shabu dinner at the resort. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L,D)
Friday, November 9: Palau
Some of the tour’s top snorkeling happens today. In the morning, go along the outer reef to the legendary Drop Off, Blue Hole and Blue Corner – where sea turtles glide along walls covered in soft corals and sea fans and deeper waters are patrolled by reef sharks, rays and large schools of pyramid butterfly fish, among other species.
In the late afternoon, go on a short hike to access Jellyfish Lake for one of the most other-worldly experiences of your lifetime! The lake is an unusual ecosystem, in that it’s an isolated marine lake inhabited by millions of harmless jellyfish that have no natural predators. Dip into the bath-like water for a gentle, yet ethereal swim. Enjoy dinner tonight on your own. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L)
Saturday, November 10: Peleliu / Palau
Take an hour-long boat ride to the island of Peleliu, stopping to snorkel along the way. Go on a land tour of World War II sites and relics and enjoy a family-style feast for lunch at a local resort. Gather for a group dinner at the resort before driving to the airport for a late-night flight to Yap. Palau Pacific Resort (B,L,D)
Sunday, November 11: Yap
Arrive in Yap in the early morning hours and drive to the resort, which is a restored colonial-era mansion reflecting the architectural style favored by the clipper ship captains of the 19th century. The morning will be free to sleep in or relax after the late night flight before taking a cultural tour of the island. Indigenous Yapese people have maintained their strong culture of tradition – rare among the increasingly Westernized islands of the Pacific. This afternoon visit a local village where women will demonstrate weaving techniques. Then watch a traditional Yapese dance during a beach barbecue. Return to the hotel late this afternoon. Dinner is at the resort’s open-air restaurant overlooking the ocean. Yap Pacific Dive Resort (B,L,D)
Monday, November 12: Yap
This morning, we will board our boat to experience the different snorkeling sites of Yap. Manta rays are frequent visitors to Mi’il Channel, as are whitetip reef sharks, jacks, trevallies and eagle rays. Another dip in the water will afford chances to look for lionfish, gobies, trumpetfish and turtles among colorful hard coral. Yap Pacific Dive Resort (B,L,D)
Tuesday, November 13: Yap
Renowned navigators, the Yapese are also known for their stone money. The stones were quarried on distant islands then arduously towed on rafts attached to wind-powered canoes. Visit a village meeting house where stone money has leaned against low walls and lined grassy paths for centuries. Learn about Yap’s place in World War II history during visits to see relics of the war. Return to the hotel in time for a farewell dinner and a late departure for the airport. Yap Pacific Dive Resort (B,L,D)
Wednesday, November 14: Yap / U.S.
Depart on an early morning flight, re-crossing the International Date Line and arriving in the United States the same day. (Meals aloft)