Palau: the ultimate dive-spot?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on Palau for a possible magazine story somewhere. It seems in a single decade this tiny island (the last colonial territory to gain its independence, in 1994) has almost switched its entire economy from fishing to tourism, in the form of diving.

Now it’s arguably the hottest dive site in the world, mostly because of the sheer numbers and variety of fish (1,500 species) and coral (700 species). This year, Palau began linking up all of its scattered marine protected areas (MPA) in the world’s largest campaign to thwart coral bleaching. Though they’ve had a long history of sustainable fishing (codified in ancient fishing laws known as tabu), the country’s recent emphasis on ocean conservation and eco-tourism is refreshing, to say the least, especially after all that we’ve read on the demise of coral reefs by global warming.

I’ve posted before about sustainable dive-trips. I feel like this may be one of the few places you could go to for scuba diving, and not feel that bad about really screwing up the environment. They’re just so far ahead of the crowd when it comes to balancing tourism with conservation.