Palau is located between the Caroline, Marshall and Mariana islands, Indonesia and Guam, and its inhabitants are distant relatives of Malays, Melanesians and Polynesians. Stretching back some 4,000 years, their culture centres around a deep respect for the environment. Today just 20,000 people live in Palau, proud stewards of its many rich traditions.
Reverence is woven into the Palauan way of life, from the protection pledge all visitors are asked to sign to daily lives lived in harmony with land and sea. Omengull is the Palauan word for respect – for one another and for the incredible natural surroundings. From resilient communities to plant medicine, chants to oral histories, omengull is as much a part of this vibrant nation as the islands that make it home.
Four Seasons Explorer’s on-shore excursions are handled by insightful guides, combining the exceptional service Four Seasons is renowned for with an authentic connection to the traditions, disciplines and respect at the heart of Palauan culture.
- AIRAI BAI, BABELDAOB ISLAND
The bai (meeting house) is one of the most iconic symbols of Palauan culture and tradition. Bais are centres for community functions, gatherings and learnings. Airai Bai, Palau’s oldest bai, is more than 100 years old, 21 metres (69 feet) long and 6 metres (20 feet) wide, and has a steeply pitched roof reaching a height of 12 metres (39 feet). Symbolic scenes and motifs are painted inside and out.
- BADRULCHAU STONE MONOLITHS, BABELDAOB ISLAND
Palau’s oldest archaeological site (estimated to date back to the year 161) comprises 52 hillside basalt megaliths, some carved with crude faces. Babeldaob Island is also home to lush forests, majestic waterfalls and the National Museum – the oldest museum in Micronesia.
- CAVE PAINTINGS OF ULONG ISLAND
Part of the Palau Rock Islands World Heritage Site, these red and yellow geometric designs can be found in a rock shelter above the high tide line, overlooking pristine sands, excellent reefs and forest hiking trails.
- MULTIPLE World War II SITES
As harrowing as they are historic, these fascinating sites include the well-organized Peleliu World War II Memorial Museum; the man-made Thousand Man Cave – a maze of tunnels and chambers built by the Japanese, named after the 1,000 or so men who sheltered in them during an intense WWII standoff; and Kaigun Sho, used as a communications centre by the Japanese, with a tank and anti-aircraft guns still in the grounds.
- THE MUSIC OF PALAU
If there is one thing Palauans know, it’s how to party. Young and old, they love to dance until they drop to a plethora of tunes both traditional and modern. Four Seasons Explorer is proud to showcase local musical maestros during private on-board concerts, such as self-taught singer-guitarist Beckwin Mechol Jr, whose dazzling talent has taken him from his Micronesian roots to a globe-trotting career.
- BELAU NATIONAL MUSEUM
Situated in Koror, the Belau National Museum offers intriguing insights into Palauan culture and heritage. Browse artwork, photography, sculptures and artefacts alongside an exhibition exploring Spanish, German, Japanese and American colonial influences, as well as a library containing more than 5,000 books relating to local history and traditions.