Travel Palau on a budget
Spoiler alert: Palau is not a cheap destination! However there are ways to keep costs down and visit Palau on a budget.
Getting to Palau:
Flight. Pretty much your only option is to fly, unless you own a sailboat or yacht, etc.
Flights arrive to Koror, the capital from Guam, the Philippines, China, Japan, and South Korea. Most of these flights roundtrip will cost $400-600.
Depending on what flight network you belong to you can sometimes take one of these flights for as little as 15,000 miles if you airline or a partner fly there.
Keep an eye out for deals. When I visited Palau in November 2016, the word on the islands was that the country wanted to diversify its tourism and entice more Europeans and North Americans to visit (Palau’s tourism is almost entirely catered toward China). In 2016 a deal was ran offering tickets round trip Amsterdam-Koror for €250. This isn’t a frequent occurrence but it does happen.
Yet again most accommodation in Palau is catered toward Chinese package tourists with big budgets. If you look and are willing to sacrifice it is possible to find accommodation in Palau on a budget.
There is one hostel in Koror. Beds go for $40.00 per night in a dorm. I was in Palau to visit a friend living here, she was in fact living in the hostel dorm. This is the Pinetree Hostel and Baba who runs it is very kind. The hostel is a great way to meet other travelers and team up to save on activities.
There is another hostel in Peleliu. Check it out here.
Otherwise check Hotel and resort prices here.
Other ways to save is seeing if you can get hosted with Couchsurfing but it is few and far between.
Another budget option is AirBnb.
Koror and Melekeok:
The two main islands are connected by bridge. It is possible to rent a car and self-drive around the islands. For cheapest prices book in advance. Also know that most flights do arrive very late night so give flight details to your rental company so that they do have someone there at their counter when you arrive.
The best way to get around Peleliu is by bicycle. Plan to pay around $10 per day.
Getting between islands:
Flights can be arranged between Koror and Peleliu with Pacific Mission Aviation. They also connect Yap and other islands of Micronesia with Palau. Not looking to go anywhere? You can also take a scenic flight over the Rock Islands.
Government boats connect Koror with Peleliu, Angaur and Kayangel. Expect to pay $5 for a one way trip.
It’s possible to charter a boat, or search for a diving boat that’s headed in the direction you would like to go. This will be much more expensive than the government boats and are quicker.
Palau has a lot to see for how little land makes up the islands. Note that Palau is the land of fees, which drive up costs more. And double note: it is no longer possible to visit the jellyfish lake. After the extreme drought Palau suffered most of the plankton that the oddly evolved stinger-free jellies eat died off, resulting in a mass death of the jellyfish. There are very few left alive. Different time frames have been given as to the estimate when the population will begin to bounce back, but 2019 has been the most optimistic.
Scenic Rock Islands Flight:
My personal favorite! Mind you, this is coming from someone who has still not completed their PADI certificate. This was the highlight of my time in Palau. Personally if I was going to splurge anywhere when traveling Palau on a budget, this would be it! And no need to worry divers, the planes don’t fly higher than 1,000 feet. Contact Pacific Mission Aviation to book. A 45 minute scenic flight will run $180 per seat.
Diving The Blue Corner:
Most who come to Palau go for the diving. The Blue Corner is as good as it gets from what diver friends tell me. Looks pretty cool from the air too.
Diving The Drop Off:
Another world class diving site. Yours truly has snorkeled here and can attest that it’s an amazing spot from what limited areas I could reach.
The Battle of Peleliu:
The Battle of Peleliu was one of bloodiest and battles of the Pacific Theater. Hire a local guide to bring you to all the sites or go at it on your own.
Rock Islands Boat/Kayaking Tour:
$100 per person to take a day trip south of Koror around the Rock Islands. And here’s where one of those pesky fees comes in… a Rock Island Permit will set you back an additional $100 per person,
Carp Island Resort:
Want a peaceful place to kick back and enjoy some of Palau’s finest beaches? Look no further than Carp Island. An overnight on the island including your boat transfer will set you back $95. You can purchase meals at the cafeteria or buy snacks at the shop on the island. Otherwise plan to bring your own food out and cook for yourself.
Diving trips can be arranged during your Carp Island stay. Kayaks are also on rental.
Supermarket prices are just slightly higher than those in the USA, so food prices won’t shock you coming from western countries. Eating out isn’t much higher than in the US either. My friend living in Palau usually ate Bento Boxes as you can pick them up for $2-3 which is a dirt cheap meal.
Then there’s Peleliu…
Peleliu doesn’t have much in the way of options. Your best bet to save is to purchase provisions in Koror and bring them with you. Otherwise your options are very limited in stores or pricey resort restaurants.
Note: Tap water is not safe to drink. You will need bottled water or to bring a purifier with you.
But wait! There’s more! Fees
Remember earlier when I said Palau was land of the fee? Don’t forget to factor these in when your planning to travel Palau on a budget. Well here it goes… the pesky fees:
When departing Palau:
$20 Departure tax
$30 Green fee
Rock Islands Permit:
Peleliu Land Permit:
*Note: these are the fees I encountered. There may possibly be more for other sites.
Explore Palau without breaking the bank.
Hopefully this will help you visit Palau without making as big of a dent in your savings as it could.
Have a question about traveling Palau on a budget?
Ask away in the comments below!