This time we have the perfect excuse to show off some amazing shots from a postcard tropical paradise, now that the Micronesian nation of Palau, in the Pacific Ocean, has its Rock Islands and Southern Lagoon areas included in the tentative list to very soon become a new UNESCO World Heritage Site. [Update: They've got it!]
Palau is made up of eight large islands and around 250 islets. In the southern part of the archipelago lie the Rock Islands. The largest of them contain marine lakes, and overall the whole ecosystem has a great variety of unique plants and animals.
In addition, one of the major assets earning the nomination is the sensational Jellyfish Lake, where millions of these golden animals swim peacefully, far from their predators.
As we approach our destination, let me give you some more facts about this small land of secluded beaches, crystal-clear waters and bright skies. Image by Asimulator
The Rock Islands are for the most part uninhabited, in a country of around 20,000 residents only. Also it is difficult to impossible to get ashore many of the islands because of their shape and characteristics.
Image by LuxTonnerre
Palau is a water destination, but here you can also visit here a pompous presidential palace standing alone in the middle of the jungle, or find out the curious story of the huge money stones.
Image by Mark Kenworthy
We are coming to land over Eil Malk island, which has more than 10 small lakes connected to the ocean through fissures and tunnels. This time, however, we are only looking for one in particular, the famous Jellyfish Lake.
Image by LuxTonnerre
What has made this lake so special is the isolation of its environment over millennia. As a result, the golden jellyfish living here have evolved in a remarkably different way from their close relatives in the nearby lagoons.
Image by Anaxibia
There are such few threats to them here in their secluded home, that the jellies have lost most of their arms and ability to sting. Thanks to this, the few happy tourists that come here can swim surrounded by thousands of harmless little outer space-like creatures. Image by Asimulator
Now relax and enjoy this video. More wonders to come after the break.
Video from Sarosh Jacob
Since we’ve made it here, so far from everywhere, we can't leave without exploring this dreamy place a bit more, don't you think?
On many islands you can find the remains of recent history, left from the fierce battles that took place during the Second World War. Image by Richard Johnson
Some of the most spectacular findings are from that period, waiting for you underwater, like this seaplane nicknamed Jake.
Image by Richard Johnson
Image by Syn
Let's keep diving, it seems that there's something else down here...
Image by Jenny Huang
Clownfish, aka Nemos, nestled in majestic sea anemones like this one, abound under the shallow waters of the ocean around Palau. Image by Jan Messersmith
The diversity of marine life here is one of the largest in the world, and there are around 70 official dive sites to enjoy this magnificent spectacle. Image by Jenny Huang