Palau is a nation that really does live up to the description ‘tropical paradise’. This archipelago consists of 343 islands where major ocean currents of the Pacific and Philippines Sea meet and mingle, creating a wonderful maze of small islands, incredible underwater features and a colourful variety of marine life. This has ensured that Palau, whilst no over-developed Pacific tourist trap, has become one of the world’s top destinations for diving and snorkelling.
The famous Rock Islands are a collection of rounded, foliage-covered islets that seem to float above the water, an illusion caused by the fact that they have been undercut by the sea’s action over millennia. They are occupied by birds, bats, monkeys and saltwater crocodiles. Ngercheu is right in the middle of the ‘Rocks’, some 25 km (15 mi) south of Palau’s most populous island, Koror. It is a tiny uninhabited island that was developed as the Carp Island Resort, and Ngercheu is now often referred to as Carp Island. It offers panoramic views of the Rock Islands, white sandy beaches and proximity to world-famous dive sites to lure visitors, who stay in the simple accommodation or visit for the day from Koror’s more developed tourist facilities. The ‘resort’ consists of a large central building ringed by thatched cottages and bungalows, and is mainly occupied by those who come not for a luxury beach holiday, but for tempting diving opportunities.
These include named wonders like Manta Ray Point, New Drop-Off, Big Drop-Off, Peleliu Wall (the deepest reef structure in Palau), Blue Hole and Blue Corner – a wonderland of multi-coloured coral, teeming tropical fish, turtles and reef sharks. But divers do require a permit and must be certified.
When to go: Any time – the weather matters not to divers. Even the rainy season from June to October generally sees a mixture of sunshine and showers.
How to get there: By boat from Koror.
Highlights: For divers – the Ngemelis wall, considered by many to be the world’s finest dive site.
A fascinating variety of bird life.
Spectacular sunrises and sunsets over the Rock islands.
You should know: The local saltwater crocodiles are not as large or fearsome as their Australian brethren, with only one attack on a human ever reported.