During our recent trip to Palau, we stayed at The Cove Resort. Though not a beachfront property, it does back up to a nice marina, features a gorgeous pool with a swim-up bar, and has a decent restaurant on site. Neco Marine dive tours and Legend Spa are both located directly next door, and Sam’s Tours is located a few blocks away. While normally quite pricey, the hotel did offer an unofficial discount to airline folks when we called and asked about it.
We spent three days diving and one day kayaking with Sam’s Tours. Like most tour operators in Palau, they send a van to pick up guests at the hotel. Their guides and boat captains were extremely knowledgeable. My daughters, ages 10 and 13, are fairly new to scuba diving, and our dive guide asked them the types of things they were interested in seeing and pointed out details to them on the dives. As an option at an additional fee, Sam’s Tours will assign a private dive guide to kids. The diving in Palau is beyond compare. I haven’t seen such thriving reefs and an abundance of life since diving the outer Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The kayak and snorkeling tour was also a worthwhile experience. Our guide was a wealth of knowledge, pointing out a variety of birds and plants, and teaching us about the history and natural surroundings of the Rock Islands.
We ate at several good restaurants in Palau, but The Taj Indian restaurant definitely topped the list. The food was outrageously delicious, and the service was excellent. The owner, Robert, was so kind, chatting with us and offering many helpful tips for things to do while in Palau. Like most restaurants in Palau, they provide complimentary car service to and from the hotel.
The Night Market takes place in the park downtown every other Friday night, on paydays. Though much smaller than the Chamorro Village Night Market in Guam, it still offers a variety of food stalls and craft vendors. It doesn’t get going until after dark. Both locals and tourists alike gather at the Night Market, and there are usually dance performances and other entertainment on stage. We were looking to purchase a traditional Palauan wood-carved storyboard, and we found a decent variety in the boutique shops throughout the downtown area.
We rented a car to drive around for a day. Tourists are required to pay a tourism tax in every state they stop, and there are several different states along the way, so stopping in each area can get quite costly. We rented a car through the hotel front desk, and the car met us at the hotel. It was pretty unofficial, but definitely the more affordable and convenient way to rent a car for a day. It’s not very easy to drive around and see much, so tours are probably the better way to go.
One thing we did enjoy visiting during our driving day was the Palau Mariculture Demonstration Facility giant clam farm. There wasn’t an obvious place to check in when we arrived, so we just wandered in and asked a couple of the employees for help. Like so many of the people we met in Palau, they were enormously helpful and kind. They went out of their way to give us an impromptu free tour. As the first giant clam farm in the world, the facilities and sheer variety of clams was impressive. We loved learning about their process for propagating the species on such a large scale.
Palau was definitely one of the most beautiful places we’ve visited in all our travels, and we’re already looking forward to our next trip.