by Casey Quon
On one of our last days in Palau, we kayaked amongst the famous Rock Islands. As we paddled, the birds and bats flying above us and the whole impression given off by the jungle covered islands made me feel like we were in Jurassic times! For example, scattered amongst the shoreline are chitons, which are marine molluscs that date as far back as 400 million years ago.
Exploring the various inlets and coves, our guide told us that we might see baby reef sharks if we remained quiet and steady through the water. Sure enough, as we glided through the shallows that were shaded by the overhanging tree branches, we saw a couple of baby black tip reef sharks, as well as a small sting ray zipping underneath our boats.
We then came upon a massive, calcite encrusted wall of limestone with a small cave just above the waterline. Paddling inside, I looked behind us where the color of the water below had a beautiful and mysterious glow to it. The color of the water and the bright light coming in from the cave entrance became a perfect picture taking moment.
After a short break, we kayaked to another beach where we learned about the animals and plants endemic to the Rock Islands and about the Palauans who once made these islands their home. As we explored the site of an ancient village, the ground was covered in shells and huge holes made by land crabs — so many, in fact, that I was afraid to step anywhere without crushing one of them on accident!
At the end of the day, we snorkeled in a small secluded cove called Mandarin Fish Lake. The pink gorgonian sea fans were extremely beautiful near the entrance walls and as we snorkeled around we saw an eagle ray and large Napoleon wrasse. Following a parrotfish around the lake, I watched as it noisily bit off chunks of coral — a sound that I will never get tired of hearing!
Kayak rides are fun, but this scenic adventure is a ride that I will never forget!