Swim in Jellyfish Lake in Palau, Micronesia

When I told my friends about a pending trip to the Micronesian 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. Jellyfish Lake in Palau, Micronesia

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.

We walked up a moderately steep set of stairs, which I cursed the entire way. These jellyfish better be worth the quarter sized blister forming on my big toe.
Jellyfish LakeJellyfish Lake in Palau

There is a small dock to drop your shoes off and from this wooden platform we saw one solo Golden jellyfish.

Just one jellyfish? I was worried.

This didn’t look anything like the photos on the Internet where countless plankton were completely surrounding you. Maybe I should purchase a copy of Photoshop, it can obviously do wonders. Jellyfish Lake in Palau

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.

Jellyfish Lake in Palau, Micronesia

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?
Jellyfish Lake in Palau

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.
Annette White at Jellyfish Lake in Palau, Micronesia

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. Plus, it was an incredible addition to my list of the top things to do before you die.

. . . Check it Off Your Bucket List . . .


Palau is an extraordinary archipelago in Micronesia with more than 200 magical limestone and volcanic islands, lying 800 miles southwest of Guam. It is well known for its world-class scuba diving and snorkeling sites, plus fairy-tale scenery that range from dense jungles to glorious blue waters to pristine sandy beaches. Jellyfish Lake is located on Eil Malk, an uninhabited island off the coast of the main town of Koror. It is home to millions of stingless golden mastigias and translucent moon jellyfish that migrate from one side of the lake to the other to follow the path of the sun. 

Getting to Jellyfish Lake:

Most excursions to Jellyfish Lake begin from the state of Koror that is serviced by Palau International Airport (ROR). The main gateways to Palau are Guam, Manila (Philippines), Seoul (South Korea), Taipei (Taiwan) and Tokyo (Japan). Common flights are on United Airlines (www.united.com) from Honolulu to Guam to Koror or direct from Manila. From the airport, the city center can be reached by car or taxi in about 20 minutes, plus many hotels will offer shuttle service for about $20 USD each way. You should make arrangements with your chosen hotel prior to your arrival. A one way fair for a taxi to Koror is approximately $25. Keep in mind that taxis are not metered, so confirm the cost beforehand.


Palau has two official languages, Palauan and English. English is widely spoken.


US Dollar. You will find plenty of ATMs in Koror and major credit cards are accepted at most restaurants, stores and hotels.


Plug type A/B plugs, 110v. The outlets are the same as North America, so no adaptor is needed if traveling from the United States.

When to Go:

Palau has a yearly average temperature in the mid 80s with high humidity, which makes it pleasant to visit any time of the year. But, being that Palau is in the tropics, rainfall can occur at any time of the year. The best time to go is during the dryer months (November to April or February and March) when there’s a decreased chance of rain. In September, we experienced sporadic rain throughout the day that did not affect any activities and one storm on a snorkeling excursion that created choppy waters that prevented me from jumping in, but not the scuba divers I was with. The water temperature throughout the rock islands is generally between 81-84, perfect bath water.

How to Visit/Planning:

Most water-based activities and exploration tours, including Jellyfish Lake, leave from the main city of Koror. For the most part, trips to Jellyfish Lake are not individual excursions; instead they are included in either group dive trips or snorkeling tours of the Rock Islands. With Neco Marine (www.necomarine.com) Jellyfish Lake is included in their all-day Rock island snorkeling tour for $150, which can include such spots as Clam City or Cemetery Reef. Sam’s Tours (www.samstours.com) offers a similar tour with additional snorkeling stops at places like Big Drop off and Milky Way for $125. Fish n’ Fins (www.fishnfins.com) has two tank dives with a stop at the lake for $210, or if you’d prefer snorkeling the cost is $175. There is also an option to charter your own boat starting at $1500 for a full day. Keep in mind that the $100 Koror State Jellyfish Lake permit is typically not included in the quoted price, but should be expected.

Getting Around:

Getting around Koror can be done by rental car, taxi or the evening BBI shuttle. Renting a car can be done at the airport terminal, as well as at some of the resorts. Though, navigating your way by car may be tricky, as Koror does not have street signs or traffic signals, plus it’s not really necessary to have a car. Taxis can easily be used when having one arranged beforehand by the concierge or restaurant host. Don’t expect to be able to hail one while just walking along the street. The taxis are not metered; fares are based on your destination. Taxi fares within Koror roughly range from $6-8. In the evenings, you can also take the BBI shuttle that completes a round-trip service in an hour and stops at many of the main locations on the main street of Koror ($7 for a one week pass). Ask your hotel where to get tickets. Most dive centers and hotels offer shuttle service to and from their locations during dive/tour days.

Where to Stay:

Most tours begin in the main city of Koror, which makes it the best option choice for your lodging while you are visiting Palau. For the ultimate luxury experience after being in the water all day stay in an oceanfront room or overwater bungalow at the Palau Pacific Resort; from $425), known as Micronesia’s most luxurious resort. Sleep in a villa surrounded by the natural beauty of a tropical paradise at Palau Plantation Resort; from $180). For a more economical, no frills option book a room at The Penthouse; from $76) or DW Motel; from $82).

Where to Eat:

For such an unknown place, the country has an eclectic mix of delicious restaurants with heavy Japanese, Korean, Filipino and American influences. Indulge in fresh fish tacos at a favorite in Palau, Kramers Café (1 Pirates Cove, Koror City). Eat with the locals at Emaimelei Restaurant (Lebuu St, Koror) where the kitchen churns out a blend of Filipino, American and local cuisine, at a reasonable price. If you want your Japanese fix, head over to Tori Tori (Derbei, Ikelau Hamlet, Koror) for delicious sushi and sashimi. Elilai (www.elilaipalau.com/e/elilai) is a special treat, situated atop a hillside with lagoon views. Their fresh local ingredients are used to make Pacific Rim cuisine with Japanese, Thai and Italian influences. At Taj (www.tajpalau.com) you will tempt your senses with the smells and tastes of the spices of India. For the adventurous bucket list eater visit Mog Mog (www.mogmogpalau.com) to dine on bowl of the local delicacy, fruit bat soup, where the whole bat (wings, fur and head included) are cooked in a coconut broth. Not for folks who don’t want their food staring them in the face!

Nearby Must-Dos:

  • Cover your body in the limestone clay at the bottom on the Milky Way. The creamy mud found on the floor of the inlet is known for its therapeutic properties. Most half and full-day tours of the Rock Islands will make a stop here.
  • Head 40 minutes outside of the Koror city center to stand under the 100-foot Ngardmau Falls. If you have a rental car you can navigate your way on your own, otherwise Palau Impac (palau-impac.com) offers a seven-hour tour for $95.
  • Explore the thick jungles of Palau on an exciting 4WD adventure. With Palau Off-Road Jungle Tours (offroadjungletours.com/index.html; from $160) you will be exploring otherwise inaccessible landscape; waterfalls, WWII relics, abandoned villages and the lush rainforest.
  • After you have explored the Rock Islands by day, take a night kayak excursion with Rock Island Tours (palauritc.com/english; $55). In the dark you will be able to see the bioluminescent organisms come alive. Their fluorescent glow along with the moon and twinkling stars will light up the calm waters.

Essential Information:

  • You will need a Koror State Rock Island permit to scuba dive, kayak, snorkel and swim in Jellyfish Lake. The cost is $100 and is valid for 10 days. Your guide will typically take care of purchasing these permits, but it is not included in the cost of the tour.
  • There is a $50 per person departure tax and green fee that can be paid in cash directly at the airport upon departure. A visa is not required for United States visitors staying for less than 365 days, though you must have a valid passport with at least one blank page.
  • Protecting Jellyfish Lake is incredibly important, so be respectful while you are there; do not lift the jellyfish out of the water, enter the lake clean and free of sunscreen, do not use the lake as a restroom and wear fins to slow your movements. Follow the rules of the lake in order to ensure that the jellyfish will be there for a long time to come.
  • Scuba diving is not allowed in the lake because the bubbles can be trapped in the jellyfish’s bell.

Packing Tips:

  • Palau is very casual, with a relaxed island style; shorts, tanks and tees prevail. Leave your stilettos and sparkly dresses at home.
  • Don’t come to Jellyfish Lake (or Palau for that matter) without an underwater camera, you’ll be disappointed at not being able to capture the underwater treasures. If your camera has video capabilities that’s even better as the mesmerizing pulsating moves of the jellyfish are fascinating.
  • Pack a rash guard as an extra protection from the hot sun.
  • A small dry daypack is helpful not only for the hike to Jellyfish Lake, but also the boat rides through the Rock Islands
  • Bring along comfortable walking/water shoes that have some traction, it can get slippery on the trail.
  • Pack light snacks for the tours. Even though lunch is typically included a granola bar or trail mix can ease some hunger.

Helpful Websites:

Pristine Paradise Palau

. . . Read More . . .

Explore the Micronesian Island of Palau by Sea

Get a Natural Mud Bath in Palau’s Milky Way

Micronesia & Palau Travel Guide

Disclosure: I was a guest of the Palau Visitors Authority, but all opinions are my own

2018-12-22T12:32:20+00:00October 15th, 2013|Categories: Oceania, Palau, QUIRKY, TOP PICKS, TRAVEL|Tags: , , |


  1. Emma's bucket list October 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    I am so jealous, I first learned about Palau soon after I started my list, and this has been on it ever since! Your pictures look greener than the ones I’ve seen, I imagined it very blue and tropical, like Caribbean or Indian oceanic waters.

    It’s still so beautiful though, and this really is worthy of that spot in the list!

    • Annette White October 15, 2013 at 5:07 pm - Reply

      It is definitely a little paler green, but not blue like the Caribbean. I can’t recommend enough taking a swim in Jellyfish Lake. It is completely wild! With as much adventure as you pack into your life, I am sure you will end up there soon 🙂

  2. estherjulee October 15, 2013 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    i loved that you did this!! i have this on my bucket list too.. but marine life weirds me out. haha but i might actually be less scared of these than a school of fish. i’ll let you know when we go there!

    • Annette White October 16, 2013 at 2:39 am - Reply

      Schools of fish are fine for me, unless they are a school of sharks!

  3. Annabel October 16, 2013 at 3:44 am - Reply

    If the pee-on-a-jellyfish comment is a reference to “friends”, then you just got even cooler :p

  4. Heather October 16, 2013 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    Amazing! So did it really not hurt at all when they brushed up against you? I’ve always wondered how people were able to swim in there.

  5. Mike | Earthdrifter October 16, 2013 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Unreal! I never would have imagined a whole lake packed with stinging yet harmless jelly fish. Were the light stings massaging or ticklish like at the fish spa?

    • Annette White October 17, 2013 at 7:19 am - Reply

      The jellyfish weren’t actually massaging or ticklish. I couldn’t feel a thing even when I touched one with my hand.

  6. Heather October 17, 2013 at 5:03 am - Reply

    This is so cool! I’d love to go swimming here, even though I’m sure I’d be nervous for the first few moments — just like you, I’d be wondering if there was just one that could sting me! So pretty!

  7. SO cool! Makes me wish I was a stronger swimmer…

  8. Matt October 24, 2013 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    This is pretty incredible! I lived in Australia for 6 months and it was the complete opposite of this.

    There’s a joke that everything in Australia can kill you, and the jellyfish are no exception! You can’t swim in the ocean in many parts of the country simply because of the danger of the jellyfish. These little guys you swam with on the other hand seem awesome. Would definitely like to do this one day. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Hurssel November 7, 2013 at 7:11 am - Reply

    Wow! So beautiful underwater scenes Annette. After seeing this amazing and adventurous trip you had I hate my self. I don’t know this water scares when I try to go for Swimming. 🙁

  10. mark November 23, 2013 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    Awesome post, this has been on my bucket list for a long time now. It’s time to make it happen.

    • Annette White November 24, 2013 at 9:47 am - Reply

      I hope you are able to check it off your list soon, because it is incredible!

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  12. Justyna Maserak January 10, 2014 at 6:20 am - Reply

    Oh my! This is so amazing! I would like to do this too!
    After this post I will definetly visit your site again!
    Btw, I would have been afraid, that some of those creaures can harm me, just like you 😉

    • Annette White January 10, 2014 at 11:41 am - Reply

      I think most people I was with were a little bit scared in the beginning. How could you not be?!?

  13. List of Living January 22, 2014 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Awesome post!! Loved the pix and details. I enjoyed reading your post and I think others will too so that’s why I used one of ur pic on my blog, List of Living (http://wp.me/p4fLip-3P). I ensure that proper credit was given but if you would like me to remove the content, I totally understand. Again, thanks for the awesome post and keep being an inspiration!

    • Annette White January 22, 2014 at 1:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the mention on your blog. I’m looking forward to your future posts 🙂

  14. Swim w/ Jellyfish | PALAU | List of Living! January 22, 2014 at 12:16 pm - Reply

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  15. Escapist February 17, 2014 at 3:23 am - Reply

    Have you tried swimming with piranhas or with barracudas? 😛

  16. Dean February 28, 2014 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    Such great memories! And without a doubt one of the TOP travel experiences to date. Love the photo of me sitting on the dock getting my GoPro sorted. Looks like I’m wearing a bra or something!

  17. Jellyfish Lake in Palau, Micronesia is a wonder of our world | Amazding - Trending News March 13, 2014 at 8:47 pm - Reply

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  18. Sunny April 4, 2014 at 7:50 am - Reply

    I just loved it. amazing!

  19. […] is the best travel experience you’ve had? Swimming in Jellyfish Lake in Palau was one of my best travel experiences. You are surrounded by thousands of jellyfish and […]

  20. `Kerry July 10, 2014 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    They don’t sting because they have adapted for so long in there and they have no natural enemies. I would still be afraid though, at first. Jellyfish are probably my favourite sea creatures, next to whales, but am absolutely terrified of them as it should be. They are a little tricky to imagine because I can not see them, so I think this would be the perfect experience for me to check them out in a totally safe way. Maybe one day.

    • Annette White July 11, 2014 at 7:35 am - Reply

      I suppose it would be sort of similar to me swimming under water in a pitch black sea and that would terrify me if I couldn’t see what was within a few feet of me. If something brushed up against my leg I’d freak out!

  21. Sami July 24, 2014 at 9:56 am - Reply

    I love this story! You have inspired me to someday complete this jelly fish encounter on my own personal bucket list. I only recently found your website but I love reading about your experiences and you’ve actually inspired me to add a few to my list. (I hope that’s okay)

    I’ve always had an adventurous mindset and I love writing so I thought why not start my own and combine the two aspects? I’m only in the beginning stages of my website and in my bucket list in general. I have not set foot out of the country yet but I daydream about it daily. I have however partaken in adrenaline junkie activities and other items on my bucket list.

    Thank you for the inspiration and I hope one day my husband and I have our own versions of some of the stories you have!

    • Annette White July 24, 2014 at 12:28 pm - Reply

      Hello Sami! I checked out your blog and it looks like you have a GREAT start to your bucket list. In the beginning of mine, I didn’t travel so much, but still managed to check off quite a few things close to home. I wish you the best of luck in having the most memorable experiences life has to offer 🙂

  22. Sami July 24, 2014 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the response! I really appreciate the fact that you checked mine out! It will continue to grow until I’m totally happy with it 🙂 But if you have any suggestions and such, I would appreciate it any time! That’s exactly what I’m doing right now: checking off local items and I think I’m doing okay for only recently starting it. The travel will come with time I’m sure 🙂 I subscribed to yours today so I really look forward to reading more of your adventures in the future! Again thank you for the feedback! 🙂

  23. Evelyn August 17, 2014 at 5:08 am - Reply

    Looks amazing! I am obsessed with jellyfish. I am planning to travel there for the jellyfish but am not sure what time of year is best to go see them. I don’t wanna plan a trip then arrive at the lake and there be no jellyfish! What is/are the best month/months to go? Help me out please!

    • Annette White August 17, 2014 at 1:53 pm - Reply

      Hello Evelyn,
      This was one of my favorite bucket list experiences of all time. I went in the month of September and they were plentiful. Here’s what thecircumference.org has to say about the season: “Although snorkeling Jellyfish Lake can be done year round, the best time of year for Palau diving is considered to be November through May, due to a decreased chance of rain. A few years ago, all the jellyfish in the lake were killed by extreme and sustained hot weather. Luckily the eggs survived, and the next year the jellyfish were back in even greater numbers. If you’re flying all the way to Palau for this particular experience, it might be worth emailing Fish n’ Fins ahead of time to check in on the status.”

  24. Evelyn August 18, 2014 at 3:28 am - Reply

    Ahhhhh thank you so much for the help!

  25. `Kerry August 18, 2014 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    I just heard recently about the dangers in the lake for the jellyfish. This was new to me. Is there any danger?

    • Annette White August 19, 2014 at 6:08 am - Reply

      It is probably best to speak to your licensed guide, but when I was there, there were absolutely no problems. Myself and about a dozen others bumped into plenty of Jellyfish without a dangerous incident.

  26. Travellingforfun November 3, 2014 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Cool photos. I didn’t know somewhere like this existed but as long as they don’t sting I think that would be brilliant.

    • Annette White November 3, 2014 at 12:01 pm - Reply

      Yes, that was my criteria for swimming there too 🙂

  27. Elle Kirsten October 24, 2015 at 1:38 am - Reply

    OHhhhh myyyyy. I am so absolutely jealous! I saw Brian Cox swim with these Jellyfish on TV and ever since I’ve been obsessed. I only wish it wasn’t so expensive to fly to. 🙁

    • Annette White October 25, 2015 at 8:02 am - Reply

      To date, this is still one of my most favorite experiences!

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  32. Elmo February 5, 2017 at 8:15 am - Reply

    This place is truely magical. Have been there last year and it was a wonderful experience. At first when we arrived in Palau, we had some issues to reach our hotel becuase we arrived at night. But after a few days everything was fine and we had the best vacation ever in palau.

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