PALAU – Exploring Palau’s Rock Islands by kayak & snorkeling in a hidden lake

PALAU - Exploring Palau's Rock Islands by kayak & snorkeling in a hidden lake

The Republic of Palau is well-known for its Rock Islands which are inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As part of my Pacific island-hopping trip together with my son I visited Palau too. Exploring Palau’s Rock Islands by kayak is a great way to see them. You will see them up close, go in caves and snorkel in hidden lakes only accessible if you know where to go. The guides from Fish n Fins now where to go! I already showed you these Rock Islands from a Helicopter but now it’s time to show you what you can expect if you do a kayak trip in Palau.


Palau’s Rock Islands by kayak

It was around 9AM when Fish n Fins picked me up (and my son of course too) from the Palau Royal Resort. When I was preparing my underwater camera the clouds turned dark. That’s something that happened daily throughout my Palau trip. Good thing is, these showers last about an hour after which the sky turns blue again. With an hour delay I was on my way paddling away from Koror towards the Rock Islands.

The first hour I paddled along various Rock Islands where the guide pointed out several characteristics of them. He also explain their formation. Some are huge and others just a few meters in diameter. The small ones look like mushrooms at low tide as water erodes the bottom. The guide took me through several narrow passage ways where he stopped and we anchored the kayak on a tree. I had no clue what we would do next as it was a dead end. He said to take the snorkeling gear and we would continue.

Snorkeling in hidden lakes

The guide then pointed to an underwater passage way. At low tide it does have 20-30 centimeter of open space but can be filled completely at high tide. It’s just a meter that you might be completely under water as the remainder there is some space above you. Do watch out for the sharp coral stones. I went first and when I surfaced I saw just green vegetation all around me. It was a hidden lake which can only be accessed through the narrow passage way. My son followed as you can see in the photo below.

The hidden Rock Islands lake isn’t huge, and you can swim from one side to the other in no time. It’s shallow near the islands but pretty deep in the middle. I snorkeled there for about an hour admiring the pristine reef and beautiful fish. I went back through the passage way and continued to a cave for lunch.

Rock Islands caves

After 30-minute kayaking I arrived at the cave for lunch. Fish n Fins really knows how to spoil their guests. It was a delicious lunch. Next up was another cave which was home to a bat colony. There are many caves in the Rock Islands and many have bat colonies in them. They aren’t dangerous if you visit as they sleep. At dawn they come out. I spend just 10 minutes inside the bat cave after it was time to continue for a last snorkeling spot.


The guide showed the way to a crystal-clear lagoon with a drop-off into darkness. A great place to relax in the shallow waters or snorkel around the corals at the drop-off. I was with my son and two other guests which was no problem. If you go kayaking and snorkeling don’t go with a too big group. You must float in the water without making to much noise so that the fish come out. If you just swim around, you won’t see much. It’s best staying for 10 minutes in one place just floating around! There is so much going on in the waters around the Rock Islands of Palau. After 90-minute it was time to continue for another 40-45 minutes by kayak to shore. Fish n Fins was waiting there to bring me back to Koror.

Exploring Palau’s Rock Islands by kayak is a great experience. Not only will you see the Rock Islands, but you’ll also visit a hidden lake, bat cave and snorkel in clear waters. The corals are beautiful between the Rock Islands and fish is abundant. Taking photos is difficult and I’m still learning underwater photography, but some came out nice. Make sure to use a very fast shutter speed and just one fixed focus point for the subject.

It was the second kayak trip I did during my Pacific island-hopping trip. I already did a kayak tour through the mangroves of Yap island earlier. It’s a great way to explore and discover an island. I hope to do more kayaking trips on other islands in the future.

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Did you visit Palau's Rock Islands too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!

Further reading

Sometimes it’s impossible to cover every single place of interest, activities, food, and others that might be relevant. In the below list you find a list of relevant links with further information which I have carefully curated. These will help plan your trip even better.
  • Jellyfish Lake is a great other destination for a day trip. Do make sure that the lake is open and check the following page for more information about a visit: Day Trip to Jellyfish Lake in Palau

Gallery Kayaking in Palau

Check the gallery for more photos taken during this trip. If you like to use any photo for commercial, private or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.

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