Nestled in the western Pacific Ocean, the Palau archiplego stretches more than 100 mi/160 km from tip to tip. Crowned by a stunning atoll in the north and some historic islands in the south, it is one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on Earth.

Surrounded by a large outer barrier reef, Palau boasts the incredible Rock Islands in the central and southern part of the country and Micronesia's second-largest landmass in Babeldaob Island in the north.

Hailed by scuba divers for decades, Palau (pronounced bay-LAU) is now attracting a greater variety of tourists with hikes, kayaking, camping, day trips to waterfalls, war ruins and traditional settings. The Rock Islands are uninhabited, but the main city of Koror has numerous hotels and restaurants. You can explore nature by day and enjoy the amenities at night.

Gorgeous rolling hills, old war caves, rocky coastlines, inviting beaches and lush, tropical jungles give visitors lots to do. Also, a strong conservation ethic exists there, which means sharks still roam the reefs, manta rays still swoop over the heads of divers, and large schools of fish still feed in the currents.

Palau itself is in the midst of a building spurt, making Koror traffic a bit muddled, but the rest of the islands remain pretty much untouched because of the active ecofriendly laws that limit development.

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