Fly to Palau
Apr 2 - 3
Depending on your home departure location, you will leave on April 2 or 3.
Sail tropical islands in the western Pacific Ocean on our scientific exploration of the newly created Palau National Marine Reserve. This unique new expedition in partnership with Conservation International concentrates on the wildlife and science of a world-renowned group of protected islands. Sail aboard the comfortable Ocean Hunter III for twelve days through these very remote tropical islands that lie in the western Pacific Ocean. Explore Palau National Marine Sanctuary with marine experts and visit the pristine Helen Reef Atoll. Snorkel and dive in the World Heritage Rock Islands Southern Lagoon where tropical forested karst islands meet coral caves and jellyfish lakes. Explore some of the most diverse reefs on the planet, and learn first-hand from scientific researchers aboard about the biology of Palau’s whales, fish, and reefs. You will also experience the unique culture of the people from these rarely visited South West Islands.
• Learn about and participate in cutting-edge marine science and whale research from captivating lectures and active participation with onboard scientists.
• Navigate through the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon amidst dugongs, manta rays, and spinner dolphins while taking a special opportunity to swim amongst non-stinging jellyfish.
• SCUBA dive and snorkel through crystal-clear waters in pristine, remote, and world-renowned sites.
• Explore the rich culture of this small archipelago by visiting with inhabitants of Tobi Island.
Itinerary Updated: January 2018
|Apr 2 - 3||Travel to Palau.|
|Apr 4||Arrive in Koror, Palau.||D||Hotel in Palau|
|Apr 5||Expedition in Risong Bay. Transfer to ship in the afternoon.||B, L, D||Aboard the Ocean Hunter III|
|Apr 6 - 7||Diving and snorkeling in the Rock Islands.||B, L, D||Aboard the Ocean Hunter III|
|Apr 8||Travel to Peleliu Island for wildlife watching and history of the region.||B, L, D||Aboard the Ocean Hunter III|
|Apr 9||Whale research at sea.||B, L, D||Aboard the Ocean Hunter III|
|Apr 10||Explore the ecologically unique and diverse region of Fana Island.||B, L, D||Aboard the Ocean Hunter III|
|Apr 11||Whale research at sea.||B, L, D||Aboard the Ocean Hunter III|
|Apr 12||Tobi Island for diving and island tour.||B, L, D||Aboard the Ocean Hunter III|
|Apr 13 - 14||Helen Reef for diving, marine research, and visit the ranger station on Helen Island.||B, L, D||Aboard the Ocean Hunter III|
|Apr 15 - 16||Navigate back to Koror while conducting whale research.||B, L, D||Aboard the Ocean Hunter III|
|Apr 17||Disembark in Koror for flights homeward. Arrive home, depending on flight schedules.||B|
Ted grew up traveling extensively and began studying and photographing wildlife as a child. After completing a Master's degree in Tropical Conservation Biology at Duke University, Ted returned to California to lead and organize expeditions full time with Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris. Ted currently leads expeditions to Antarctica, the Arctic, and the Caribbean while pursuing a doctoral degree studying humpback whales. He also recently founded the citizen science project Happywhale.
Olive is a research scientist and the Marine Programme Manager for Conservation International, New Zealand and Pacific Islands. Her research focuses on marine mammals and their conservation. She provided training and technical advice to governments and industry about whale conservation and marine sanctuaries. She enjoys guiding research and tourism expeditions in the tropics and the poles, educating others about the fascinating world of marine ecosystems.
Ron grew up in a US Marine Corps family, moving from forests to deserts to seas. His childhood exposure to nature led him to earn a degree in Biology, after which he embarked on a five-year mission to travel the world as a migratory Animal Trainer, White Water Raft Guide, and SCUBA instructor. In 1994, Ron packed up his diving kit, flew to Micronesia, and knew after just two days that he'd be planting roots in Palau's paradise. Now, Ron manages two successful paddling companies in Palau.
Depending on your home departure location, you will leave on April 2 or 3.
Arrive in Koror, Palau for an overnight stay before boarding the ship the next day.
Note: Cheesemans' are members of World Cetacean Alliance and abide by responsible whale watching practices.
This morning, transfer from the hotel to the harbor to board a speedboat, while your luggage is boarded onto the Ocean Hunter III. You will start the expedition with a wildlife-rich day in Risong Bay. Here we will benefit from Ron’s extensive local knowledge to guide us through a long morning at Black Tip Lake, Shipwreck Bay, Kingfisher Bay, and Mandarin Fish Lake. We’ll kayak to look at baby black tip sharks, paddle past glorious limestone cliffs with endemic plants and birds, snorkel among jellyfish, and hear about the historical significance of the area during World War II. Mandarin Fish Lake will cap a beautiful morning with a snorkel over pink sea fans and stunning soft corals, perfect habitat for juvenile sail fin tang, pajama cardinal fish, and mandarin fish. While eating lunch, search for dugongs before an early afternoon snorkel timed with the tide where manta rays may be feeding at Lolita’s Garden. By late afternoon, we’ll head back to the harbor where Ocean Hunter III awaits to take us to our next destination with possibilities for more wildlife sightings once out of port.
Explore a rainbow of diversity as you snorkel or dive among dazzling schools of mandarin fish, dugongs, manta rays, and spinner dolphins. The complex reef system within this collection of uninhabited limestone islands supports over 385 types of coral, sustaining a large variety of plant, bird, and marine life. You will discover endemic populations of ocean species in the unusual collection of marine lakes located here (isolated bodies of seawater separated from the ocean by land barriers). Some lakes are home to millions of non-stinging jellyfish that you can swim amongst! The ship will anchor in the heart of this distinct landscape, allowing for beach BBQ dinners and visits to some of the world-famous dive sites of Palau. Dive highlights may be Blue Corner, Big Drop-Off, and German Channel where gentle giant manta rays show up at a ‘cleaning station’ for parasite-eating fish to pick them clean of pests. The richness of Ulong and Ngemelis guarantee both snorkelers and divers will have incomparable wildlife experiences. Ulong boasts superb coral life, anemones, sea snakes, and myriad fish species. Timing the tide gives the possibility of finding gray reef sharks riding currents with great viewing for both divers and snorkelers. Ngemelis can legitimately be called the underwater Serengeti of this beautiful planet, yet exploring on land is also a must where cultural finds, like Yapese Stone Money, and birds, such as the mound-building Micronesian megapode, are found.
Keep your eyes peeled for migratory shore birds and whale encounters as the Ocean Hunter III motors toward the island of Peleliu. Here, the snorkeling and diving are glorious and divers may visit the breathtaking fish and corals of the Peleliu Wall diving area.
On land, you will scout for endemic birds while you learn about the role these islands played in World War II, visiting the intense relics of the Battle of Peleliu where up-ended tanks are now taken over by glorious fig roots, reclaiming the island’s wild nature. You will also search for coconut crabs, the largest known terrestrial arthropod, and learn about the biology and conservation of these enormous hermit crabs. Listen for the mysterious whistle of the elusive and endemic bush warbler as you walk through these forested islands.
Join our resident whale researchers as they explain and demonstrate their study methods. You can actively participate in the search for whales and dolphins, and in the collection of behavioral, visual, and acoustic data. Sperm whales frequent these waters; Ron has documented 184 individuals in Palau, so with some luck, we may find ourselves amongst a family group of these incredible mammals with the largest brains of any species on the planet.
Fana is an uplifted reef flat island in the Southwest Islands of Palau that qualifies as a globally significant ‘Important Bird Area.’ This international designation indicates that this area is critical for the conservation of bird populations. On land, you’ll scout for congregations of nesting black noddy and common white terns, as well as brown noddy, great frigatebird, and red-footed booby. On the beaches, you will search for coconut crabs and nesting green sea turtles. You will also have the opportunity to dive or snorkel through a magnificent rainbow of hydrocorals.
Spend a second exciting day assisting onboard researchers as they search for and collect data on whales and dolphins, participating with them at the watching and listening stations.
Explore this small limestone island, learning about the culture and lifestyle of the 16 people that live here and that of their ancestors, a culture with a separate dialect endemic only to Tobi. Tour the culturally-modified tiny island to see taro patches that have sustained the inhabitants for over 150 years and visit other significant cultural sites. You will also have the opportunity to dive or snorkel in the reefs around this unique island.
Helen Reef atoll has been named as a ‘Marine Protected Area,’ helping to safeguard it from overfishing and poachers. While diving or snorkeling around this spectacular collection of remote reefs, you will encounter an abundance of dazzling fish and other marine life. Inside the ring of coral reef sits Helen Island, which is uninhabited except for the rangers stationed there to protect the reef’s conservation status. Visit the ranger station to learn about the ongoing marine research to better understand and protect this breath-taking site.
Surprises may await on the voyage north toward our port in Koror, traveling through rich waters where pilot whales and sperm whales are known to feed. You’ll continue learning about and assisting in marine research during this time at sea.
The group will disembark the ship in Koror around 8:00am and either travel to the airport or into town for those departing later in the day. If you wish to extend your stay, we are happy to book a hotel in Koror for you (not included, subject to availability). If you are crossing the International Dateline to get home today, you will arrive home on April 17.
Sail tropical islands in the western Pacific Ocean on our scientific exploration of the newly created Palau National Marine Reserve.
The 16-passenger Ocean Hunter III is a 96-foot, steel-hulled live-aboard motor yacht designed by divers, making her the perfect choice for our scientific exploration. Special amenities include air-conditioned cabins, spacious gear room with camera table and charging station, dive deck with individual storage bins, and two Jacuzzis. The experienced and friendly crew consists of several local Palauan guides who have grown up on these reefs and care deeply about preserving the Palauan environment and culture.
|Type||Description||Cost Per Person|
|Standard||Double occupancy, one upper and one lower twin bed, private bath, and large storage space and closet. Lower deck.||$9,700|
|Deluxe Twin||Double occupancy, one upper and one lower twin bed, plus additional twin bed, private bath, and large storage space and closet. Upper deck. External door to sun deck and Jacuzzi.||$10,300|
|Deluxe Queen||Double occupancy, one queen-sized bed and one twin bed, private bath, large storage space and closet. Lower deck.||$10,300|
|Master Stateroom||Double occupancy, one king-sized bed and one single bed/sofa, private bath, large storage space and closet. Upper deck. External door to sun deck and Jacuzzi.||$11,600|
We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we will not charge you a single supplement. If space is available, cabins can be booked for a single occupant by adding 90% over the listed cabin cost. Single rooms are subject to availability.
Please note that we cannot guarantee a specific cabin number. If changes occur, we will do everything in our power to assign a cabin of equal or greater value as the cabin type specified in your reservation. Deck plan, cabin arrangements, and cabin amenities are subject to change by ship operator.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$500|
|Second||June 1, 2018||$2,000|
|Third||September 1, 2018||$2,500|
|Final||December 1, 2018||Remaining Balance|
Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.
Refunds are given depending on the time left before departure according to the following table. The cancellation fee of $300 per person can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. Consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance that could reimburse your trip costs in the event of your cancellation.
|Dates||Forfeited Amount per Person|
|On or before September 30, 2018||$300|
|October 1 to 31, 2018||10% of tour cost|
|November 1 to 30, 2018||40% of tour cost|
|On or after December 1, 2018||100% of tour cost|
In April, average temperatures range from the mid to upper 70’s°F (24–26C) at night, up to the mid to upper 80’s°F (29–32C) during the day, with high humidity and about a 50% chance of daily rain showers. The water temperature averages 84°F (29C).
Minimal fitness is required to join this safari, but your fitness and snorkeling ability enrich the experience. Getting in the water to snorkel or SCUBA dive is not required – this safari can be a wonderful experience from the vantage of the ship and tenders – however water activities are a significant part of the voyage. At minimum, you need to comfortably and safely move around the ship and embark/disembark from the landing tenders. To get the most out of this safari, you should be comfortable in the water, snorkeling, and getting in and out of the water via a boat ladder. Please contact us if you don’t have experience snorkeling, but would like to join this safari. Strong swimming ability and the ability to free dive (i.e., diving underwater without SCUBA tanks) are not required, but will also enhance your experience.
Our voyage will include landings and opportunities to hike on shore, typically no more than a mile or two on varying terrain. Walks and hikes are generally at a slow pace with stops for observation and photography and may be skipped by anyone that is not interested or able.
Airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.
Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Koror, Palau (ROR) no later than the night of April 4. Depart from Koror (ROR) any time after 10:00am on April 17.
No, however these activities will significantly enrich your safari experience.
Yes, you may arrive several days early to Koror and participate in a SCUBA certification course. There are several businesses you can contact on your own, or we can book it for you through the company that has been recommended to us by our local trip leaders. Please contact our office for more details.
Don’t let a fear of seasickness scare you away! For all but the most sensitive, seasickness is rarely a problem in this region. It’s a good idea to bring medication if you get seasick or are unsure, but you may find that you do not need it after a couple days once you have your “sea legs.” Even those who have experienced seasickness reported that the incredible wildlife and overall experience were well worth the temporary discomfort. Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness and contact us if you have any concerns.
"This was my first Cheesemans' trip. I was very impressed on all levels and would recommend Cheesemans' trips to friends."
"Ted skillfully led a very mixed group of travelers. His enthusiasm and passion were contagious."
"On a scale of 1-10, I would rate both the tour and company as a 15."