Unusual Place of the Month: Jellyfish Lake

By Nomadic Matt | Published August 11th, 2010

the jellyfish lake in palauPalau is an island in the South Pacific and is often overlooked for Fiji, Bora Bora, or the Cook Islands. This makes Palau a great destination if you are looking for a nice, beautiful, and quiet tropical island. But more importantly, Palau has the amazing Jellyfish Lake. The Jellyfish Lake is a marine lake located on Eil Malk island in Palau and is probably Palau’s most famous attraction. Everyday, millions of golden jellyfish migrate across the lake. While they do this, you can go swimming with them!

Jellyfish Lake is about 12,000 years old and is a remnant of the last ice age. About 12,000 years ago, the sea level rose to the point where sea water began to fill the Jellyfish Lake basin. But when the glaciers receded, there was no place for these jellyfish or other fish to go. This isolation allowed the species in the lake to develop on their own and become a unique species (Darwin would be proud!). This is why you can swim in the lake- these jellyfish have lost their stingers. Without the need for them, they have lost their ability to sting so you can swim unharmed. The jellyfish in the lake live on algae that are attached to them. Twice each day, the jellyfish in the lake swim from one side to the other so they algae they live off of can grow.

Snorkeling in Jellyfish Lake is a popular activity for tourists to Palau and there are many tour operators here. Tourists require a pass to access to Jellyfish Lake. The Rock Islands/Jellyfish Lake pass is $35 and is good for 10 days. You’ll be able to swim for hours with these creatures as they migrate from one side of the lake to the other. While Palau might not be one of the biggest destinations in the region, this lake is Palau’s big destination. Don’t expect to be the only one swimming here.

Scuba diving by tourists in the lake is not allowed for two reasons: First, the bubbles from scuba tanks can harm the jellyfish if they collect beneath their bell. Secondly, at about 15 meters below the surface, there are high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide which can be absorbed through the skin of a diver and cause death.

the jellyfish lake in palau
If you are looking to do something different, try going for a swim with a few million jellyfish. Most of the jellyfish in the world sting and while they are beautiful creatures, you can’t really go swimming with them. Yet here in Palau, nature gives you a chance to get all tangled up without being stung.

P.S. – If you are like me and enjoy visiting cool and unique places around the world, check out my “unusual places” category to read more about odd places to visit in your travels.

comments 20 Comments

This place sounds incredible. Able to swim with many of pretty looking jellyfish like this, wow! I hope someday I can go there.

I would so love to dive with those Jellyfish, either there or at the other place in the world that you can find them, Kakaban island, just off the coast of Malaysian Borneo http://www.indonesiadiving.com/derawan/kakaban.htm – which also has the benefit of being slightly more accessible than Palau. My flatmates have dived there and said it was an awesome experience

I went to Palau earlier this year just to swim in Jellyfish Lake. Not only was that experience out of this world, but Palau itself is beautiful, with friendly locals and spectacular beaches and sunsets. If, like me, your perfect idea of a beach holiday is swimming, snorkelling, diving, and then relaxing with a cocktail and watching the sky turn from orange to pink to purple, then I can’t recommend Palau enough.

Saw a prog on the TV the other day on this place

This has been on my bucket list for years!!!

vira

Oh the stingless jellyfish, I love ‘em!
Swimming with them was one of the highlights in my trip to Derawan Islands (Borneo, Indonesia), at the Kakaban Lake, just like Geoff mentioned above.
I’d like to go to Palau someday…

Palau has always been pretty hard to get to I think. However, I beleive there is now direct flights from Brisbane, Australia. This should make it easy for us Aussies to see these amazing jellyfish!

Wow! That sounds amazing. I always avoided swimming with jellyfish – but now I just might have to try it haha.

You can actually swim with them? Wow..!! It sounds like a great place to have a family adventure.

I try to keep my expertise to the Caribbean but I would give a kidney to swim and Kayak through the Rock Islands of Palau. I will pass on the jellyfish though. Not a fan of those weird guys. Can’t look them in the eye!

Cheers!

Very cool. Tell me, do they feel anything like tapioca balls? Sounds like a great place to get loose with some psychedelic drugs.

Take care, Phil

Unbelieveble! Jellyfish always fascinated me. I have to get to see this lake one day.

always wanted to do this! I know they have this in Russia – didn’t know it was down in the south pacific as well.

NomadicMatt

I had no idea they had this in Russia! Where?

Glenn

There is also this one Jellyfish sanctuary in the Philippines which have millions of sting-less Jellyfish. It is in Bucas Grande Island (you can Google it). :)

NomadicMatt

Cool! I’ll check that out too!

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