A Merry Christmas in Micronesia

The moment I saw a photo taken from Palau, I knew we had to go. The diving destination quickly skipped to the top of my travel bucket list and just seven months after seeing that first photo, we were in Palau. Coming from Japan, we had a four hour layover in Guam where we made the most of our time by hitting the beach. This was a sharp, but very welcome change from the snowy weather we had in Japan. guamThe main reason to visit Palau is the world-class scuba diving. We purchased a week-long dive package with Sam’s Tours in Palau that included all transportation, hotels and dives so everything was already taken care of when we arrived (highly recommend!). We were picked up from the tiny airport in Palau, taken to our hotel and the next morning checked into the dive shop that would become our home for the next week. Our routine over the course of the week was as follows. 1. Arrive at the dive shop and get our gear ready for the day.IMG_3924 (1280x960)2. Take an hour long boat ride to the outer reef for a morning dive. Palau is comprised of roughly 250 islands, 200 of which are uninhabited. The daily boat rides were actually a huge perk, almost like a free scenic boat tour every day. Look at all the different colors of the water!IMG_3654 (1280x960)IMG_3663 (1280x960)IMG_3665 (1280x960)IMG_3675 (1280x960)IMG_3730 (1280x960)IMG_3738 (1280x960)IMG_4127 (1280x960)3. Get back on the dive boat and head to a secluded beach to eat lunch. IMG_3689 (1280x960)IMG_3690 (1280x960)IMG_3692 (1280x960)IMG_3694 (1280x960) One of the days we stopped at the beach below where they filmed “Survivor Palau” back in 2005.IMG_3747 (1280x960)IMG_3782 (1280x960)IMG_3772 (1280x960)IMG_3793 (1280x960)IMG_3810 (1280x960)IMG_3818 (1280x960)IMG_3789 (1280x960)4. Take the boat to the next dive site(s) for one or two more dives.IMG_3932 (1280x960)5. Head back to the dive shop for happy hour and catch the sunset.IMG_3917 (1280x960)IMG_3916 (1280x960)IMG_4103 (1280x960)6. Eat dinner and pass out. I don’t think we ever made it past 10pm! We were lucky enough to have a great group of people on our dive boat and made some awesome friends from Germany.  IMG_4115 (1280x960)One of which, Markus, is a dive master and owns one of the nicest underwater cameras we’ve ever seen. Thanks to him, he’s let us use some photos he took during our trip. If you are ever in Austria, check out Bukannon Divers!bukannon3 (960x540)bukannon2 (960x639)bukannon7 (960x640)palauThe diving in Palau is incredible. Not only is the underwater life amazing, there is so much diversity. Within our 12 dives, we dove in channels, drop-offs, caves, holes, shipwrecks, etc. You name it, Palau has it all!IMG_3888 (1280x960)bukannon1 (960x639)bukannon5 (640x960)bukannon6 (960x640)Aside from the diving, one of the highlights of Palau was or snorkel trip to Jellyfish Lake. There is a lake on Eil Malk island where an estimated five million golden jellyfish migrate from one side of the lake to the other following the sun. The jellyfish don’t sting, in fact, they are super soft and squishy, which is a good thing because they are everywhere!  They were so delicate that if you swam too quickly, your fins could easily rip one to shreds. We jumped into the lake and started to head to where they were most concentrated. As we swam, we slowly became increasingly surrounded by hundreds and then thousands of them.IMG_3956 (1280x960)IMG_3974 (1280x960)IMG_3981 (1280x960)IMG_3983 (1280x960)IMG_4002 (1280x960)IMG_3998 (1280x960)We took a ton of photos at Jellyfish Lake…IMG_3992 (1280x960)IMG_3994 (1280x960)IMG_3968 (1280x960)IMG_3975 (1280x960)IMG_3960 (1280x960)IMG_4006 (1280x960)IMG_4018 (960x1280)
We took a video diving down through the masses of jellyfish. This gives a little perspective into how many there were and how dense the population was in certain spots of the lake.  

The day before our flight back to the States, we went on an all-day kayak trip to get up close and personal to the Rock Islands, a dense cluster of limestone islands which is part of Palau. We kayaked in lagoons and caves and went snorkeling and cliff jumping all day. Not a bad way to spend our last day!

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We were picked up by our airport transfer for our long trip back to the States. From Palau we flew to the small island of Yap, then to Guam and Honolulu before eventually making it back to San Francisco 25 hours later. I would have flown another 25 hours if we had to; Palau is totally worth the trip! While we missed seeing all of our family and friends over the holidays, it was truly an incredible birthday and Christmas vacation.IMG_3928 (1280x960)
Here’s to hoping 2015 brings as many amazing memories and getaways as this year did!bukannon8 (534x534)

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