Jellyfish Lake on Eil Malk island in Palau

Jellyfish Lake is a marine lake on an island called Eil Malk. This island is part of one of the world’s smallest and youngest countries – Palau. The interesting thing about Jellyfish Lake is that it is full of non-poisonous jellies so the visitors can go for a swim and get very close and personal with them. There are thousands, millions of them in the Jellyfish Lake and because they’ve lived there without any natural predators, their lethal stings were of no use. So they’d evolved and are now completely safe for humans to swim with.

Jellyfish Lake in Palau - Where Swimming with the Jellies in Not Dangerous, Photo: tata_aka_T, Wikipedia
Jellyfish Lake in Palau - Where Swimming with the Jellies in Not Dangerous, Photo: tata_aka_T, Wikipedia

Jellyfish Lake Location

Republic of Palau is known as a country without borders. It is a group of islands located in the Pacific Ocean, some 800 km (500 miles) southeast of the Philippines. Palau is also the westernmost archipelago of the Caroline Islands, but unlike its neighbors, Palau didn’t join the Federated States of Micronesia and set out on the path of independence.

The most populated areas of Palau are the islands of Koror, Babeldaob, Peleliu and Angaur. This is where the most of the nation’s 20,000 people live, however Palau also consists of several coral atolls (Kayyangel, Ngeruangel), a remote group of six islands called the Southwest Islands and uninhabited limestone outcrops peeking out of the Philippines Sea known as the Rock Islands. It is on one of the Rock Islands, called Eil Malk or Mecherchar where Jellyfish Lake can be found.

Eil Malk is located 23 km southeast of Palau’s most populated island of Koror. More than 10 lakes can be found on uninhabited, densely forested Eil Malk, but it is the Jellyfish Lake that is of world renown and attracts most attention.

Jellyfish Lake in Papau - Aerial View of the Lake on Eil Malk Island, Photo: Lukas, Wikipedia
Jellyfish Lake in Papau - Aerial View of the Lake on Eil Malk Island, Photo: Lukas, Wikipedia

Tourists wishing to visit the Jellyfish Lake are required to purchase the Rock Islands / Jellyfish Lake pass which costs $35 US (US Dollars are the official currency used on Palau) and is valid for 10 days.

You can see the location of the Jellyfish Lake on the navigable, interactive map below (by Google Maps):

How to Get to Jellyfish Lake

The only reasonably way of getting to Palau is by plane. Continental Micronesia flies to Palau from Guam daily, but new routes have been added as recently as December 2010 to Palau from Tokyo (Japan), Brisbane (Australia) and Manila (Philippines).

Since Eil Malk is an uninhabited island, you would stay in other parts of Palau and take a daily trip to Jellyfish Lake. It takes about 40 minutes to reach Eil Malk by boat from Koror. As can be seen from the picture above (though being an aerial shot, it doesn’t offer true perception), in order to reach the lake from the shore, one needs to take on a big, steep hill. But don’t let that discourage you. It is a little bit of effort that will make it worth your while in the end.

Seen as a natural phenomenon and a scientific mystery, reaching the Jellyfish Lake and going for a safe swim with the jellies is a surreal experience that has no match anywhere in the world.

Congregation of Millions of Jellies in the Jellyfish Lake in Palau, Photo: tobze, Flickr
Congregation of Millions of Jellies in the Jellyfish Lake in Palau, Photo: tobze, Flickr

Jellyfish Lake Explained

There are about 70 saltwater lakes on the islands of Palau. These lakes used to be lagoons fully connected to the ocean, but are now cut off and seemingly isolated, though limestone tunnels in this Miocene reef allow for tidal water to flow in and out.

Such isolated environment allows for fast growing algae to strive and since no predators make it to the lake, this body of water is now completely packed with jellies.

The Jellies of The Jellyfish Lake

Absence of predators resulted in natural evolution of the jellies which look different from their close relatives living in a nearby ocean lagoon. There two species of scyphozoan jellyfish that can be found in the Jellyfish Lake:

  • Golden Jellyfish (Mastigias Papua)
  • Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia Aurita)
It Is OK to Gently Touch the Jellyfish, Just Don't Pull Them Out of the Water, Photo: tata_aka_T, Flickr
It Is OK to Gently Touch the Jellyfish, Just Don't Pull Them Out of the Water, Photo: tata_aka_T, Flickr

The jellies from the Jellyfish Lake are still equipped with nematocytes (stinging cells), but they are too small to pose risk to humans. Some swimmers can experience an occasional zap, especially when encountering a baby jelly, but these are not dangerous and can be seen as part of the experience. However, people with allergies to jellyfish should consider wearing a protective lycra suits prior to entering the lake.

Swimming with the Jellies

Swimming and snorkeling in the Jellyfish Lake are permitted and are an experience not to be missed. There are thousands upon thousands of jellies in the Jellyfish Lake, you just submerge yourself and enjoy being in the presence of these fascinating sea creatures.

It is worth noting, though that because there are so many jellies in the lake, each swimmer is guaranteed to come in contact with many of them throughout their course of swimming and people are not used to being touched by living organisms that feels this strange upon touch. The initial feelings may be rather freaky or, to a point, uncomfortable but it’s nothing a little open mind and fascination with nature would not overcome.

Swimming with the Jellyfish in Palau, Photo: aSIMULAtor, Flickr
Swimming with the Jellyfish in Palau, Photo: aSIMULAtor, Flickr

Scuba Diving in the Jellyfish Lake

Scuba diving is not permitted in the Jellyfish Lake and for very good reasons. First of all, it really is not necessary to scuba dive as all the jellies float within a few meters of the surface of the lake.

Secondly, there is a dangerous layer of hydrogen sulfide between 15 and 20 from the surface. This hydrogen sulfide can be absorbed through the skin and is toxic – can cause death. There are no traces of it found in the upper layer of the lake, but dip deeper down and you are putting your life in harm’s way.

Thirdly, there is a very high concentration of jellyfish that hover horizontally in the upper layer of the lake, so if a scuba diver was to slide down below them, the bubbles released during breathe-outs could get trapped beneath their bells and harm the creatures. Given that a scuba diver would have dozens of jellyfish above them at any given time, each breathe-out would most certainly hit at least one unsuspecting jellyfish, causing harm and vastly disturbing this unique ecosystem.

Swimming with the Jellyfish Could Easily Be The Best Thing You Will Have Done in Your Whole Life, Photo: Pacific Klaus, Flickr
Swimming with the Jellyfish Could Easily Be The Best Thing You Will Have Done in Your Whole Life, Photo: Pacific Klaus, Flickr

Jellyfish Lake Video

From the surface, the Jellyfish Lake looks like any other lake, but dip your camera below the surface and all you see is a slew of non-stinging jellyfish, as can be seen in the video below:

Jellyfish Lake is one of the most unique places a traveller can visit. It is one of 11 permanently stratified meromictic lakes (lakes containing layers of water that do not mix) in Palau, but the only one that’s open to tourists.

Palau is not a budget traveller destination. Being so remote, the South Pacific archipelago of Palau is entirely dependent on income from tourism which gets reflected in the costs associated with trips to the area. On a bright side, Palau is a very safe place with virtually no crime though exercising common sense is always wise.

I hope you enjoyed this introduction to the Jellyfish Lake and if you’re heading over to pay Palau for a visit (or if you did visit in the past), I hope you will share your experiences with the rest of us so we get the first person report on what it’s really like.

Atolls of the World – Top 6 Most Beautiful Islands

Before we get to the list of Top 6 Most Beautiful Atolls of the World, we first need to take a closer look at the definition of an atoll. What is an atoll and what is a difference between and atoll and an island. While an island is a piece of land surrounded by water, atoll is also a piece of land surrounded by water, but with a body of water within itself. In other words, atoll is a small piece of land that surrounds water on the inside and is surrounded by water on the outside. The best way to think of an atoll is that it’s a ring of landmass sticking out of the sea or an ocean. There is however one more important aspect to the atolls which has not been mentioned yet. The landmass that creates an atoll is not a soil, it’s a coral.

Atolls are former coral reefs that formed around a volcanic island. In certain tropical conditions, these coral reefs that are fringing the island start to expand, while the island itself starts to shrink until it gradually disappears under the surface of the ocean. What’s left is a ring of corals encircling a lagoon and that is what we define as an Atoll. Needless to say – atolls are visually astounding formations found in tropical zones of large bodies of water, such as the Pacific or Indian Oceans. Aside from breathtaking looks, atolls count as some of world’s best places to go snorkeling or scuba diving. The following is a list of Top 6 Most Beautiful Atolls of the World:

Tikehau Atoll, French Polynesia

Tikehau Atoll of the Palliser Islands Group of the French Polynesia, is located 340 kilometers northeast of Tahiti. Tikehau, which means “Peaceful Landing” in Tuamotuan is considered to be the most beautiful of all the atolls in the French Polynesia, and forms an almost unbroken circle that is 25.7 kilometers across. You will never run out of things to do at Tikehau Atoll. There is a resort that provides scuba diving, snorkeling, picnic and sunset cruises, fishing and canoeing. An abundance of sea life makes for fantastic diving – manta rays, barracudas, tunas, multicolored coral fish, and the ubiquitous reef sharks. The stay will be costly, as there is only one resort, and rooms range from $600 – $1100 per night, and you are looking at an average of $150/day per person for meals. But overall, if you get the chance to see the beauty Tikehau Atoll has to offer, it will be worth every penny.

Tikehau Atoll - The Most Beautiful Atoll of the World, Photo: NASA, Wikipedia
Tikehau Atoll - The Most Beautiful Atoll of the World, Photo: NASA, Wikipedia

Tetiaroa Atoll, French Polynesia

Tetiaroa Atoll is located 59 kilometers north of Pepeete – the capital of the French Polynesia located on the island of Tahiti. New luxury resort is being built on Tetiaroa Atoll, and rumor has it it will cost around $1500 per night. Unless this resort is built, there will be no overnight accommodations on Tetiaroa Atoll but there is still plenty to do. From fishing, diving and snorkeling, to getting lost in photography and soak in the beautiful sights and sunshine, Tetiaroa Atoll has it all. Getting there is an adventure of its own. You can either sail to Tetiaroa Atoll with your own yacht, or hire one of the charter companies… either way though, a trip to Tetiaroa Atoll remains the privilege of the wealthy.

Tetiaroa Atoll - The Most Beautiful Atoll of the World, Photo: NASA, Flickr
Tetiaroa Atoll - The Most Beautiful Atoll of the World, Photo: NASA, Flickr

Orona Atoll, Kiribati

The Orona Atoll is also referred to as Hull Island. It is one of the Phoenix Islands in the Republic of Kiribati. It measures in at 8.8 kilometers by 4 kilometers, with a total surface area of 3.9 square kilometers and an elevation of 9 meters above sea level. Orona was previously occupied, but as of 2004 it is uninhabited. The island is known to be a nesting ground for turtles, and some other forms of wildlife including lizards, feral cats, rats, pigs, dogs, lizards and crabs. While shores of Orona Atoll are lined with Coconut Palms that, the rest of the atoll is mostly covered in scrub forest, herbs and grasses. In 2008, in order to preserve their fragile ecosystems, Orona Atoll along with the other islands of the Phoenix Islands archipelago were declared the protected areas, making them the largest marine protected area to date.

Orona Atoll - The Most Beautiful Atoll of the World, Photo: NASA, Wikipedia
Orona Atoll - The Most Beautiful Atoll of the World, Photo: NASA, Wikipedia

Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands

Currently uninhabited, the Bikini Atoll is part of the Micronesian Islands, which is part of the Republic of Marshall Islands. Bikini Atoll consists of 23 islands that surround a lagoon in the Pacific Ocean spreading over an area of 591.4 kilometers squared. Between the years of 1946 and 1958, the Bikini Atoll took part in the Pacific Proving Grounds, where more than 20 nuclear tests took place, including the test for the first practical hydrogen bomb. In 1997 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced that it is now safe to walk the islands again, but since radiation levels remain high, it is highly recommended not to eat any food fished out of the ocean surrounding the atoll. Due to the same high levels of radioactivity as well as limited availability of services on the atoll, diving is not safe nor recommended. All of these restrictions along with lack of fishing resulted in abundance of sea life in the waters surrounding Bikini Atoll. Another thing that makes Bikini Atoll worth a visit is the shipwreck graveyard that includes the USS Saratoga (CV-3), the USS Apagon (SS-308) and even the Japanese battleship Nagato, but since scuba diving there is tricky, this attraction is moot for the time being.

Bikini Atoll - The Most Beautiful Atoll of the World, Photo: NASA, Wikipedia
Bikini Atoll - The Most Beautiful Atoll of the World, Photo: NASA, Wikipedia

Aitutaki Atoll, Cook Islands

Aitutaki, also known as Araura, Ararau or Utataki, consists of 15 islands that are a part of the Cook Islands archipelago. Since Aitutaki Atoll is the Cook Islands second most visited tourist trap, visitors are catered to through a variety of resorts ranging from budget to high class. The land mainly consists of coral, beaches and volcanic fertile soil that allow delicious tropical fruits and vegetables to grow in excess. The basis of Aitutaki Atoll is roughly the shape of an equilateral triangle with sides 12 kilometers in length and has a maximum elevation of 123 meters. The total land surface is 18.05 kilometers squared, while the lagoon is around 50 to 74 kilometers squared. Aitutaki Atoll has a population of about 2000 people and is subdivided into 4 districts, containing 8 villages. There are however, no direct flights to get to the main island but there is an area for boats to anchor and a small airport for boat planes to land.

Aitutaki Atoll - The Most Beautiful Atoll of the World, Photo: luthor522, Flickr
Aitutaki Atoll - The Most Beautiful Atoll of the World, Photo: luthor522, Flickr

Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles

The Aldabra Atoll is located in the Indian Ocean and forms part of the Seychelles within the Aldabra Group. It is the second largest atoll in the world measuring at 13 kilometers long and 14.5 kilometers wide and up to 8 meters above sea level. The atoll itself consists of 4 islands that encircle a lagoon, with a total land surface area of 155.4 kilometers squared. The lagoon is 224 kilometers squared but about 2/3 of this falls during low tides. Aldabra Atoll is practically untouched by humans and uninhabited aside from rangers and island management, allowing fauna unique to this island to grow and prosper. This atoll is known mostly for its Aldabra Giant Tortoise, which nearly became extinct due to hunting in the 18th century but now has a population of over 150,000. You will also find green turtles, hawksbill turtles, hammerhead sharks, manta rays, barracuda, and birds, including the Aldabra Rail – the last surviving flightless bird of the Indian Ocean region calling Aldabra Atoll their home. The land mainly consists of limestone uplands, sand dunes and beaches and a mixture of trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses.

Aldabra Atoll - The Most Beautiful Atoll of the World, Photo: Trisha M Shears, Wikipedia
Aldabra Atoll - The Most Beautiful Atoll of the World, Photo: Trisha M Shears, Wikipedia

Ranging from uninhabited and roughing it to luxury and resorted, from day trips to extended stays, these atolls cover it all. Whether you are a diver, traveler or just going on vacation, these atolls are not only stunning in natural beauty, but also offer you that real chance to “get away from it all”. I hope you enjoyed the list of Top 6 Most Beautiful Atolls of the World and if you know of an atoll that should be on the list, share your views in a comment to this post.

Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island, Australia

Remarkable Rocks are a cluster of peculiar granite boulders placed atop a granite dome on the south-west shore of Kangaroo Island in Australia. It is difficult to trace down the origins of the name “Remarkable Rocks” but it is obvious that whoever gave the formations the name was impressed with them at first sight. Let’s look at some of the Remarkable Rocks Facts and History: Remarkable rocks were shaped into their remarkable forms by 500 million years of exposure to the wind, rain and seas spray. Remarkable rocks are often compared to the abstract art of English sculptor Henry Moore famous for his public works of art displayed around the world. Remarkable Rocks sport impressive sizes, giving an impression of hand carved caves. Visitors can hide underneath them or climb on top of them. They are huge and unusual. Some of the Remarkable Rocks are covered in golden orange lichen which gives the rocks different hue at different parts of the day which creates opportunities for spectacular picture taking.

Gigantic Natural Dome of Rock - Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island, Australia, Photo: mrpbps, Flickr
Gigantic Natural Dome of Rock - Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island, Australia, Photo: mrpbps, Flickr

Remarkable Rocks Location

Remarkable Rocks are located in the southern part of Flinders Chase National Park which covers 33,000 hectares on the western side of the Kangaroo Island in Australia. The Remarkable Rocks are so large you can clearly see them from the satellite view on Google Maps. The interactive, navigable map with location of remarkable Rocks is provided below. Unzoom to see the proximity of Kangaroo Island to Adelaide or other Australian mainland towns.


View Larger Map

How to Get to Remarkable Rocks

To get on Kangaroo Island, jump on a ferry in Cape Jervis on Australia’s mainland. You can get to Cape Jervis from Adelaide by bus. If you are in Adelaide, you may also consider flying to Kangaroo Island as plane tickets are very reasonably priced (starting at $75.00 AUS one way). If you take the plane, you will get off in Kingscote, which is Kangaroo Island’s largest town. If you take a ferry, you will be taken to Penneshaw. Both of these towns are on the east side of Kangaroo Island, separating you from Flinders Chase National Park where Remarkable Rocks are located by more than 100 kilometers.

Looking Out off the Cliff from the Inside of Remarkable Rocks, Photo: safaris, Flickr
Looking Out off the Cliff from the Inside of Remarkable Rocks, Photo: safaris, Flickr

Once on Kangaroo Island, is it best to rent a car to go exploring. There is no taxi service provided on the island so unless you rent a car or bring one with you, you will have a bit of a difficult time getting around. Ferries between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw carry both passengers and cars, so your best bet is to take a car rental with you. As an alternative to all this, you can book entire tour with a tour operator so you will have bus services and all other transfers arranged. This option is the most costly and gives you least freedom, but is suitable for people who’d rather pay extra and have everything taken care of.

Bus service does operate on Kangaroo Island but due to popularity of Flinders Chase National Park, unless you make reservations up front, you may end up not being able to get a seat. KI Transfers and Smart Car Transfer Company offer transfers from anywhere on the island to anywhere on the island. If you are in good physical shape, you may also consider renting a bicycle and soak in the best the Kangaroo island has to offer with wind in your hair.

Remarkable Rocks Formation Takes Crazy Shapes, Photo: Roo72, Wikipedia
Remarkable Rocks Formation Takes Crazy Shapes, Photo: Roo72, Wikipedia

Flinders Chase National Park

While a visit to Kangaroo Island can be done as a day trip from Adelaide, there is more to it than Remarkable Rocks. Flinders Chase National Park itself is a home to several geological phenomena (including Remarkable Rocks and impressive Admirals Arch) and a sanctuary to many endangered species (including kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, and platypus). The entire area of Flinders Chase National Park is protected but with lots of recreational opportunities to engage in. Hiking and trekking are especially rewarding and several camp sites offer camping facilities (Snake Lagoon, Harveys Return, West Bay and Rocky River) or you can opt for a night at the historical Cape du Couedic lighthouse.

Remarkable Rocks Hollow Formations Covered in Orange Lichen, Photo: thornj, Flickr
Remarkable Rocks Hollow Formations Covered in Orange Lichen, Photo: thornj, Flickr

Remarkable Rocks Video

This video gives good perspective of the size of Remarkable Rocks:

Remarkable Rocks on Aussie Kangaroo Island is one of those attractions not many people recall when thinking of Australia. As a matter of fact, not many people who have not spend much time in Australia would have heard of Remarkable Rocks. The visit to Flinders Chase National Park is truly “remarkable” and is a recommended destination on your “exploring the world” travels. Here’s a good vacation idea for all of you who are traveling to the country down under. Visit Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island, the size and shapes of these formations are staggering and if you catch it at sunset, the pictures will be breathtaking. Welcome to Australia.