16 states of Palau

Palau is an archipelago of diverse terrain, flora and fauna. There is the largest island of volcanic origin, called Babeldaob, the outer atoll and limestone islands, the Southern Lagoon and islands of Koror, and the Southwest Islands, which are located about 300-450km southwest of Palau.

These regions are divided into sixteen states, each with their own distinct features and attractions.
Transportation to these states is mainly by road, boat, or small aircraft. Koror is a group of islands connected by bridges and causeways, and is joined to Babeldaob Island by the Japan-Palau Friendship Bridge. Once in Babeldaob, driving the circumference of the highway can be done in a half day or full day, depending on the number of stops you would like.

The outer islands of Angaur and Peleliu are at the south portion of the archipelago, and are accessible by small aircraft or boat, and there is a regularly scheduled state ferry that stops at both islands. Kayangel, to the north of Babeldaob, can also be visited by boat or helicopter.

The Southwest Islands, due to their remote location, are only accessible by large ocean-going vessels, but are a glimpse into Palau’s simplicity and beauty.

AIMELIIK
Located on the southwest corner of Babeldaob, it has some 37 square km of land and mangrove areas.

It has low rolling hills with some rugged terrain along the west coast. Large areas of commercial agricultural development exist in Aimeliik. The famous prehistoric terraces, the largest in Palau, can be found in the village of Ngebedech. Located in Elechui Village lies Malsol’s Tomb. It is said that Malsol was a fierce warrior from a neighbouring state that was stoned to death by the women of the village for killing one of their sons. The stones were left to form his tomb. Visitors going to Aimeliik can visit Malsol’s Tomb, Elechui Village, and the Aimeliik Bai.

AIRAI
Known as the Stepping Stone to Palau, here in the southernmost part of Babeldaob, the Republic of Palau’s airport is located.

Airai also has the oldest bai (built over 180 years ago and renovated in 1984) and several sites of cultural and historic importance. In fact, 113 surveyed and identified historic sites of which 22 have been registered in the Palau Register of Historic Places. 6 of these registered sites have been restored. There is also a large reservoir which supplies Koror with water and the Ngerikiil River, which winds through mangrove and forest.

ANGAUR
An island of beauty and history, Angaur is located southwest of Peleliu outside of Palau’s fringe reef.

Some of the most spectacular blowholes crash on the rough shorelines. The beaches are known for clean white sand and cool. fresh air. History includes old phosphate mines and Uab, the giant who formed the Palau archipelago, came from Angaur. There are also World War II relics, an old German lighthouse, shrines, and some stone platforms. Angaur’s traditional first childbirth ceremonies are unique as the mothers climb a platform. Diving in Angaur is also spectacular with its steep drop-offs and abundant sea life.

HATOHOBEI
Commonly referred to as “Tobi”, the island is located some 450 km southwest of Angaur.

This island state includes Tobi island and Helen Reef, covers a combined area of .63 square km. Like the island of Sonsorol, Tobi is composed of limestone and sandy soils, and only a few feet above sea level. The very extensive and productive Tobian taro fields were documented to have exist around the 1830’s. This photo shows how extensive the taro fields were during the beginning of the 20th century. Significant sites include the Ferehuhe Diangel Canoe House. Other sites are the Bonuyong, a man-made cave and the Matahong, Japanese living quarters.

KAYANGEL ISLANDS
At approximately 1.78 square kilometers, Kayangel is Palau’s only true coral atoll with untouched beaches and reefs that surround the island and about 40 kilometers away from the tip of Babeldaob.

The waters around this atoll are a favourite spot for fishermen to troll, and the land is rich with a lot of different species of bananas which Kayangel is known for.

KOROR
Koror is the state comprising the main commercial centre of the Republic of Palau. It consists of several islands, the most prominent being Koror Island (also Oreor Island).

MELEKEOK
Melekeok is located on the central east coast of Babeldaob, about 25 square km which extends from the lagoon on the east coast to the central divide of Babeldaob.

The state consists of long white sand beaches, thin fringes of mangrove along parts of the coast, swampy marshes, rolling hills and Palau’s largest fresh water lake and conservation area, Ngardok Lake. This nature preserve is open to visitors for hiking and wildlife/ bird watching around the pristine lake. Officially opened in 2006, the new Capitol Buildings are located here.

NGARAARD
Ngaraard is home to one of the finest and longest beaches in Palau.

A pathway that connects the east part to the west is great for hiking, or visit Ngerchokl spring, a fountain of youth by Palauan legend, and Ngerkall Lake. You can also snorkel, kayak or fish in Ngaraard. A narrow stretch of land in this State offers you both sunsets and sunrises for you to enjoy. Favorite local dishes include demok, the taro leaf soup.

NGARCHELONG
Located at the northern tip of Babeldaob Island, Ngarchelong extends north from the narrowest part.

It is covered with mostly grass and low vegetation. Popular for an impressive archaeological site called Badrulchau, the stone monoliths cover an area of five acres with scattered stones and carved faces. Badrulchau is considered Palau’s premier archaeological site which dates as far back as A.D. 161. This state is also abundant in marine life such as giant clams and sea cucumbers, and at the reefs and channels, there are more fish than you can count.

NGARDMAU
Ngardmau is a place for adventure, whether you are riding a zipline to Palau’s largest waterfall, hiking in the forest, or diving in the Iuekako Channel where manta rays mate.

Rich in bauxite, Ngardmau was mined for this resource during the early part of the twentieth century. Terraced hillsides and a port are some of the reminders of this time. From Palau’s highest point, Mount Ngerechelchuus, you can view most of Babeldaob and some of Koror. Ngardmau’s traditional dish is the mangrove clam, which is a delicacy enjoyed fresh with lemon.

NGAREMLENGUI
The largest land mass of Palau’s archipelago, this state covers about 109 square kilometers of Babeldaob.

It has the longest river in Palau called Ngermeskang River. Ngeremeduu Bay, a breeding area for marine life which is now a protected area, borders the state. The Ngermeskang Bird Sanctuary is an area with high bird species richness, and you can walk through forests to view an amazing 30 resident species. Ngeremlengui is also famous for their sea cucumber, a delicacy which Palauans enjoy eating raw.

NGATPANG
Ngatpang is situated on Ngeremeduu Bay, a UNESCO biosphere reserve that comprises of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems.

Wildlife includes mangrove crabs, freshwater eels, water snakes, and crocodiles. There are new aqua and agricultural farms in this state, and it is a great place to visit for hiking and kayaking. Ngatpang also has a waterfall, ancient terraced hills, stone monoliths and pathways, and 2 Japanese shrines. Traditionally this was the pottery making center of Palau because of the excellent natural clay.

NGCHESAR
Ngchesar is located on the south central east coast of Babeldaob.

It covers an area totalling 41 square km and has thick mangrove swamp forests. There are coconut trees and savannah grasses on its ridges and plains. The waterfall trail is a great place for hiking. If you like crocodiles, you can take a boat tour along the Shimizu River. Thought to be one of the most important archaeological sites in Palau, the Terraces in Ngerngesang Village are examples of terracing and through radio carbon dating, were dated as far back as A.D. 491 and A.D. 1150. Sites to visit include these terraces, and a war canoe.

NGIWAL
Ngiwal has unique legends and sights that are part of its history, such as the famous “Basket of Taro for Iluochel” (Sualel a Iluochel), the sunken village of Ngibtal-where the old stone platforms are still visible under the sea, and the amazing Bird Nest made of stones called “The Nest of the Morning Bird”.

Visitors can see the statue of the legendary warrior Ngirngemelas, the main feature in the center of Ngirngemelas Square. Legend has it that the people of Ngiwal were big eaters, eating about 7 meals and 9 soups per day. Today the phrase “7-eat 9-soup” is a common phrase, and one of the favourites is the pumpkin with coconut milk soup of Ngiwal, known as “subliwal”. Also in Ngiwal, a boat ride through the mangrove channels at high tide leads to a stunning waterfall hike.

PELELIU
Located at the southern tip of the barrier reef, Peleliu has a total area of 19 square km and one of the fiercest battles of the Pacific took place here in 1944 during WWII.

In anticipation of an American invasion, the Japanese defenders dug cave systems into the limestone hills, and built bunkers that are still accessible today. Visitors to Peleliu can get there by boat or by small airplane. The airstrip was built during the Japanese occupation. Peleliu is great for fishing and diving, as it has some of the best dive sites in Palau. It also has a museum packed with WWII memorabilia. Visitors can also enjoy the beautiful beaches and war monuments and relics scattered around the island.

SONSOROL
Located some 300 km southwest of Angaur, combined with Fanna, as Pulo Anna and Merir, they total an area of 3 square km.

The islands are miniature platforms of reef composed of limestone and sandy soils covered by forest and bush. Along the sandy beaches, coconut palm trees are abundant and were the primary source of copra production on the islands. For culture and history seeking travellers, Sonsorol has the Bai ra Ringal, a registered site for its significance as the place used by the island chiefs for meeting and used as a navigation learning center as well as a place to stay for travellers. Fanna is an uninhabited bird nesting site, while Merir is known for nesting turtles.

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