Mar 24

Palau (Snorkeling with Jellyfish in the Rock Islands)

The most famous tourist site in Palau is arguably the Jellyfish Lake.  It’s one of only a few marine lakes in the world that are home to stingless Jellyfish and you can go Snorkeling with Jellyfish.  At the time I visited, there were only 2 such discovered or known lakes in the world in Palau and Indonesia, but recently I have heard of other lakes in Palau, Indonesia, as well as the Philippines.

The story of the creation of stingless jellies is that some jellyfish got into an inland marine lake.  Then something blocked them inside and blocked all their predators out.  Thus, they lost their ability to sting as they didn’t need it anymore.

Getting to Jellyfish Lake

In 2011, it cost $30 for the Rock Islands Park Pass.  This allows you unlimited entry into the park for a full week.  On top of this, you need transportation or a tour to get to the lake.  My tours cost $125 thru Sam’s Tours and involve multiple other stops throughout the day.

My Experience at the Lake

First you get dropped at a pier.  There are guards here that check your park pass (the only time all day my pass was checked).  You then climb up and down a very steep hill of coral and end up at a swimming dock in the lake.  All footwear is left near the dock.  You’re not allowed to wear fins in the lake as paddling could hurt the jellies.

You’re also not supposed to apply sunscreen before getting in the lake as the lake is getting more and more polluted as tourism increases.  Sam’s Tours was good about enforcing this but unfortunately I saw many Asian tourists applying lotion almost immediately before getting in the lake.

It only takes a few minutes to swim out to the jellyfish.  I had imagined many more jellyfish than there were – at some times the pollution or disease kill off a portion of the jellyfish population.

It’s weird swimming with jellyfish swimming by your face.  You can gently touch the jellies with your hands – they feel pretty much what you might think – just like big gummies.

Snorkeling with Jellyfish

Before leaving the lake, I swam by the edges.  The guides don’t take you here, so you need to do it quick if you want to look.  There were all kinds of cool stuff on the edges of the lake – interesting coral-like organisms and fish with glowing eyes.

Traveled Nov, 2011


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