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Location: Palau

Today was another amazing day. I was lucky enough to be in a group with Steph, Cole, Pierce, Aidan, Caleigh, Caroline, Mia, and Chloe, and we went on the rock island tour. We started the day off a little earlier than usual, so we could squeeze in a covid test for everyone before leaving for our tours. Our tour began with a quick pit stop to take some pictures at the famous Palau rock arch and marvel at its beauty before heading over to our first snorkel site, the soft coral arch. The walls of this arch were covered in pink and purple soft coral everywhere, which surrounded you when you free-dove down. My favorite part, however, was when you swam through the arch to the other side, it opened up to a huge bay where the perimeter was covered in trees and bushes – it was like swimming in a tropical lagoon in the middle of a jungle. Everyone was deliberately super quiet because we could hear the birds and cicadas, which made it feel like we were at a fancy outdoor spa!

Next on our itinerary was snorkeling at the famous drop-off site. Our group was lucky enough to dive half of this site yesterday during our dive excursion, so the guides took us on the portion which we didn’t see yesterday, and it did not disappoint! I think every one of us must have seen at least 8 sharks and over 10 turtles! Everywhere you looked was something to get excited over! I’ve never seen so many Hawksbill and Green Sea turtles in one place before!

After a bite of lunch, we began the longer boat ride to the Jelly Fish lake everyone had been waiting for. On our way, we stopped at one particular cliff face which Mac, one of our guides, showed us some small ancient paintings on the cliff face that he discovered not too long ago while out paddling one day. It looked like one was a turtle or something similar in shape, and the other was clearly a handprint. He told us that the red paint would have been made from a mixture of Dugong and pig fat as well as a specific plant that gave it its rusty red color. Then came the jellyfish lake, and that was mind-blowing! To be surrounded by thousands of jellyfish all touching and bumping into you and not getting stung was unbelievable. Some of us were a little unnerved, to begin with, so a couple of screams followed by a lot of laughter could be heard. By the end, everyone was diving down and swimming amongst them all. I think this was easily everyone’s favorite part of the day.

We then visited the ‘milky-way and had our second spa experience covering each other in the mud there and giving each other facials. On the way back to Argo, we stopped at one more site briefly so we could see a WWII Japanese Zero plane. Aidan lost his mind over this – he had heard about this from the group that went yesterday and had been excited for it since! It also has a really interesting back story about the pilot, which Mac filled us in on.

Whilst we were on the Rock Island Tour, the other half of the group also had the most amazing day. They went on 3 dives, all at different dive spots, and got to experience wall diving, current diving, where they clipped into the bottom and ‘flew’ in the current watching the show in front of them, which was around 40 big and small sharks, and a wreck dive! The wreck dive was described as a bit of a Halloween dive as it was a little hard to see at the beginning of the dive, but it was a WWII wreck that was over 40fft long and lay at a max depth of 90ft. This definitely seemed to be the highlight of the dive groups day!

All in all, it was another amazing day here in Palau. After dinner, we were told more information about our final tour tomorrow, which includes hiking, swimming, and waterfalls – so another exciting day to come!