Day 8: Free Time

Today was a day of rest and/or free exploration for us. Some of us went to the beautiful Long Island Park and Conservation area to hike in the jungle.

Ngermalk – Long Island Park and Conservation Area
One of many labeled trees along the trail and the raucousness of the jungle (volume up!)

At the park was a medicinal plant garden full of species like Kertaku (Myrtaceae Descaspermum fruticosum – native), Blaulked (Rubiaceae Timonius mollus – endemic), Rur (Rubiaceae Bakia palauensis – endemic), Ebechab (Plypodiaceae Microsorum scolopendria – native), Chemudelach (Rubiaceae Hedyotis Korrorensis – endemic), Kelsechedui (Lamiaceae Vitex trifolia – native), Ukellelachedib (Fabaceae Chamaecrista mimosoides – native), Ngmak (Asteraceae Ageratum conyzoides – native), and several others. We learned that endemic refers to species found only in a certain region, and native refers to species that are naturally occurring without human introduction but can be found in other regions.

Indigenous medicine garden

Medicinal uses for Kelsechedui, for example, include reducing high blood pressure, use as a mosquito repellent, a tonic to simulate appetite, give you energy, and keep your body hydrated. Recipes and instructions for these remedies can be found in the Palau Primary Health Care Manual.

Across the island, another group spent the day with Sam’s Tours diving out in the Rock Islands. Palau is known worldwide for its incredible diving and this group did not want to pass up this opportunity.

Ready for a day of diving! From left to right: Brittney, Reid, Melissa, Scott, Alex (eyeballs only), Jocelyn, Dustin

We left the dock and before we even reached our first dive site, we came across a reef manta ray swimming across the reef.

Reef Manta Ray

The first dive took place at German Channel. An equal mix of sandy bottom and reef, this was the perfect easy dive to begin the day. We spotted many varieties of fish and other sea life including sharks and turtles.

Before ascending to the surface, we stopped to snap a few quick pics to remember the moment.

Brittney and Dustin throwing shakas 50 feet down
Jocelyn throwing shaka 48 feet down

The next dive site, Dexter’s Wall, exhibited plunging reef walls that disappeared far below what we could see. The reef was made of mostly soft corals mixed in with hard corals. Here, the sea turtle sightings continued with our group spotting at least five of the beautiful creatures.

Melissa observing a green sea turtle

The dive concluded when we arrived at the Blue Corner, which swept us away into a drift dive. People who talk about diving in Palau never fail to mention the sudden swift currents that can catch a diver off guard. After a fast-moving safety stop at 15 feet, we popped to the surface for lunch.

After a delicious bento box, we hopped back into the water for our last dive of the day, Canyons. This site displayed steep walls of colorful hard corals with canyons breaking up the scenery. We swam though a rather large overhead tunnel and finished our dive at a vertical wall full of life and color.

Hard coral rock wall at Canyons

From laundry to shopping, to diving and hiking, we ended our day feeling rested, refreshed, and ready for another week of adventure here in Palau.

Written by Jocelyn, Dustin, and Hilary (Shaka)

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