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.

Word for the Travel Wise (04/20/06)

Palau FlagEven though I never watched a single
episode of Survivor: Palau, the seasons long reality show
always comes to mind when hearing the country name. (Now, that’s how you know you’ve got a show that works.) While I
lack the time to sit engulfed in primetime television, I’ve got nothing against watching the adventure armchair type
travel/challenge programming and I suppose with each season Survivor has given the hard working mother, under tipped
waitress, and the too-afraid to fly there themselves person the opportunity to see Palau up close. My only question for
all those religious Survivor fans out there is did they teach you any Palauan? If not perhaps it is time to start tuning
into Gadling as well.

Today’s word is a Palauan
word used in Palau:

chellimosk – expert; a
person who has in depth knowledge on his/her trade

Palauan (also spelled Belauan) is spoken by some 15,000 people
in Palau. It is considered one of the two languages of Micronesia and belongs to the Austronesian language family.
Palauan is 64.7% official in all islands except Sonsoral, Tobi and Angaur. Filipino and English are also spoken on the
island. Learning Palauan online may prove a bit difficult, but you can start at this Palau: Airai – Native Place site. The word list found
here covers family members, society and terms relating to geography. A small pronunciation guide is included below the
list as well. Palau Island has a phrase
list, common proverbs, and tons of info on diving and things to do and see when visiting one of Oceania’s most popular
destinations.