When I told my friends about a pending trip to the island country of Palau to swim in something called Jellyfish Lake their faces had that half quizzical and half “you’re a crazy lady” look. The rapid-fire of questions followed; Why? Aren’t you scared? How many jellyfish are there in that lake? Will you wear a wetsuit?
What touched me the most is that the people closest to me actually thought I was courageous enough to jump into a lake surrounded by stinging jellyfish. Not a chance. The reality is that begging strangers to pee on my stinging wounds does not sound like a bucket list worthy travel experience to me.
Palau’s Jellyfish Lake is actually home to millions of jellyfish, deemed relatively harmless since their sting is so light. See, I am playing with a full deck of cards. Most of they time.
When you arrive you are greeted by the rules that must be abided by before entering this lake; Don’t hold the Jellyfish. Uh…Ok. Don’t kick the jellyfish. Wasn’t planning on it. Do not remove the jellyfish from the water. They probably wouldn’t make good souvenirs anyway.
There is a small dock to drop your shoes off and from this wooden platform we saw one solo Golden jellyfish. Just one. I was worried.
We were instructed to swim about a hundred feet out, towards the sunlit waters. Apparently, jellyfish like the light.
Each foot I swam closer towards the light the jellyfish population grew, until I was completely surrounded.
And now I was worried for an entirely different reason and the rapid-fire questions infested my brain. Are they really harmless? What if there is one that isn’t? It would surely find me. Are there medics close by?
The first five minutes in the water were spent panicked any time a jellyfish would brush up against a limb. After that, a sense of security set in and I began inspecting each one of these interesting creatures.
Thousands were within visibility, every direction I looked. And I couldn’t get enough. Some were tiny like a lemon, others were the size of softballs and they felt smooth like a dolphin. It was easy to be mesmerized by their lackadaisical movements.
I stayed in the water until my fingers looked like shriveled grapes and my back was certainly the color of a red delicious apple. But, the experience was worth every blister that was sure to be making an appearance tomorrow.
Disclosure: I was a guest of the Palau Visitors Authority, but all the words I write come straight from my, sometimes distorted, mind. Just as it should be