Laidback Koror Not Your Typical Tourist Destination
Koror in Palau is different then any other tourist destination that caters to the beach and sea crowd who seem to be the same no matter where you are in the world. High rise hotels and condos provide the visitor with perfect sunrises or sunsets. Multistory malls sit side by side luring locals and tourist alike into their plush over priced shops.
Taxi stands are found at each hotel and at many street corners. Pick up trucks slowly roam the street with speakers announcing a special event or a “1” day only sale, repeated when the next group of tourist comes in. Huge billboards in foreign languages vie for your attention, blocking that ocean view.
Those wonderful beaches in the brochures are so covered with umbrella and beach chairs, you might not see the sand until you are walking on it. The tranquil ocean view changed to a race track for tourist on jet skis, power boats for island hopping and a dozen para-sails in the air at a time.
Near the beach are the clubs, easy to find you can hear the music from a mile away. Hundreds of tourist are getting drunk and acting like they never would at home. If these things are what you look for in a vacation, then forget Palau, which is none of that.
People come to Palau because it is a tropical paradise, low key, relaxing, ecology friendly and naturally beautiful. Those things that spoil the other destinations do not happen in Palau.
The beaches here are clean and uncrowded. Sunsets are often observed from a pub overlooking the sea, or a walk on the beach. Tourist destinations such as Jellyfish lake are capacity controlled, and rules are not only in place but enforced to protect the environment.
Those who come to Koror, Palau are mostly scuba divers
Tourism is a very important part of the Palau economy, and it is the largest industry and employer.
The majority of tourism is based in the state of Koror, which is the small island of Koror, two nearby islands connected by bridges, and some uninhabited islands.
The population of Palau is estimated about 20,000 with about 14,000 of them living in Koror State and of that 10,000 in the Hamlets that make up the town of Koror. Tourist arrivals may reach 150,000 this year (2015).
Over the course of a year, ten times more tourist arrive than there are Koror residents. However, to dampen that number consider, the entire population of the country is 1/3 the average attendance of a single Manchester United match. Two of those matches would exceed the number of tourists coming to Palau every year.
Tourism is integrated into Koror, but it does not overwhelm it.
It has a quaint laid back feeling, much like Key West when no cruise ships are in port. You do not get overwhelmed by people who seem like they want to take advantage of you.
There is one main road on the island. Entering the island by the bridge from the airport you have beautiful blue water below you and can see the coral and marine life as you drive in. Traffic is light with no huge tour buses slowing down traffic. In fact, the closest thing to a bus is a shuttle bus service that operates only in the evening, affordable at $7 a week.
While some tourist will rent a car, a bicycle can be a better way to get around the seven square mile island. During the day, few tourist are seen in the town as they head out to the dive sites, rock islands or the beaches. The evenings are relaxed as both tourist and locals mingle along the main road.
The accommodations range from simple hostels and B&B’s to luxury resorts. Tourist will find it difficult to seek out the local cuisine. However, there is a nice range of international dining. American and Japanese food are common since both countries have had influences in Palau in the last century.
Being remote has a huge advantage, the party-at-all-cost-tourists go elsewhere.
Bento boxes, a Japanese tradition, are a popular lunch choice found in convenience stores and as take out in restaurants. They are also used as our lunch meals while we are diving. Chinese, Korean, Indian and Filipino restaurants are also found in town. The average restaurant is inexpensive with a few more expensive ones for the refined palette.
If you were to stereotype divers anywhere in the world with their nightlife, it would be safe to say they enjoy a few beers and talking about diving.
The nightlife in Koror fits that. There are some karaoke bars, but mostly you will find a small establishment that both locals and visitors will patronize. Beer is the favorite drink of the locals, and Red Rooster Beer is brewed locally.
Noise control laws prohibit music in open spaces accept by special permit and regulates the amount of sound that can be heard from outside an establishment. So you won’t find your ear drums blasted as you walk down the street.
Businesses close early with midnight being the latest an establishment may remain open. Koror has a curfew in the public interest from 0230-0600 Monday-Thursday; 0400-0600 Friday-Sunday.
Palau is considered a safe destination, still like any place crime and accidents can happen. Medical facilities are limited but adequate for most emergencies including dive related ones. The most common health and safety concern seems to sunburns.
Are you looking for an unusual day trip after some amazing dives? Try the jail, but not as a guest, please. The local jail has become a tourist destination with a gift shop that sells handicrafts created by the inmates.
Please feel free to contact us directly if you would have any questions. We love to hear from you.