For vigorous-activity enthusiasts, a must is hiking in Babeldaob, Palau’s biggest island and the second-largest landmass in Micronesia. Measuring 27 miles/43 kilometers in length and 15 miles/24 kilometers across at its widest point, Babeldaob’s terrain transforms gracefully from steep mountains and forested hills or savannahs, to freshwater lakes to a paradise of sand along the longest natural beach in Palau. Blessed with these natural as well as historic wonders, ancient stone paths built in the jungle centuries ago lead to fascinating remnants of old villages and ancient hillside terraces.
Babeldaob’s dense jungle foliage is interrupted only by farms and villages, and by the paths and roads that connect them. Found in Babeldaob and other islands in Palau are 1,400 species of plants, with an estimated 194 endemic plant species, including 23 endemic orchids. At least 46 species of reptiles and amphibians can be found, and 12 of which are endemic. Bird watchers can explore the Ngarmeskang Bird Sanctuary, one of a network of Protected Areas, to spot 12 endemic of the 162 species of birds, including the White-breasted Wood Swallow, and the Palau Fruit Dove.
On foot or by bike, energetic naturalists can stop at any one of the island’s vista points, wander into the jungle to commune with both plant and animal life, picnic by a river and then wash away the heat of the day under one of the island’s four picturesque waterfalls.