Stuart and Michele Westmorland are a photographic team residing in Mill Creek, Washington. Their photo files are 70,000 pictures strong and have appeared in a variety of publications, including more than 100 magazine covers. Although Stuart and Michele gather images of all types, from travel to lifestyle, their first love and passion is diving and photographing the wonderful marine environment. From the cold waters of South Africa to dive with Great White Sharks to the gentle warm oceans of the South Pacific, the couple spends many months a year bringing interesting stories and photographs to readers. With a combined experience of more than 25 years, their curiosity to explore new diving territories never wanes. Find out more about the Westmorlands at www.westmorland
Day 4: The Rock Islands and a Night Under the Stars
0730: This segment of the canoe trip starts out from Fish 'n Fins' dive shop and begins by speedboat. Since we will be several miles to the southeast of Koror (the capital city of Palau), the canoes were taken the night before and placed in a protected lagoon at the eastern end of the Rock Islands. We are so excited these final few days of the broadcast because it means exploring the perfect little mushroom-shaped islands, snorkeling on reefs with an abundance of fish life and warming my toes in the white-sand beaches.
A limestone Rock Island.
0830: We arrive at our canoe location and take some time to stretch and ready our arms for our longest paddling journey. We start out with the best weather to date. The sky is so blue and the popcorn clouds so close that you want to reach up and grab one. The sea is incredibly calm. It is so flat that each little island, with its crown of clouds, is perfectly reflected in the azure water.
Adults and kids alike are lathered up in sunscreen, covered by protective clothing and wide brimmed hats weaved by a local Palauan woman. I can't help but feel I am in a trance. The peace and calm is so soothing. As we cruise along, the limestone undercuts provide relief from the hot sun. Water droplets from the limestone rock fall on us and help refresh our overheated bodies. To my amazement, it's closer to fresh water than salt. The limestone must act like a of purifier.
An easy ride through the islands.
1100: We watch as a school of baitfish rockets out of the water a short distance away. Obviously a sizable predator is chasing them. Picking up a morsel for themselves, seabirds swoop down and skim the surface. There are a variety of birds--several species of terns and long-tailed tropic birds. They soar the sky in search of their small piece of the action.
1230: A well deserved lunch! A beach called Fantasy Island is a nice hangout before continuing our short hop to our own little island for the afternoon and evening.
Michele and the kids snorkel at Honeymoon Island.
1330: We are anxious to get to Honeymoon Island. We can see it in the distance and it's beautiful. Perfect white beach, turquoise water and palm trees straight out of a postcard. The kids are more excited to see what's under the water instead of on top. We pull up to the beach, and before you can say "snorkel," the kids have their equipment on and are splashing into the water, shrieking with pleasure. What they find are golden gobies with blind shrimp helping to keep the den clear of pebbles, anemones and clownfish and lots of small colorful reef fish.
1630: We're ready to set up camp and prepare our evening meal. We are protected from the elements, although there is not a threatening cloud in the sky for our night under the stars. We dine on the finest Palauan cuisine once again--all natural and quite delectable. Skewers of chicken and fish, rice, Palauan spinach and fresh coconut juice (the adults' jazzed up with a generous dose of cognac). Sitting by the fire we discuss the day's discoveries and look at the celestial show after a spectacular sunset.
A perfect family outing.
It is amazing that we can cook, eat and sleep with almost no bugs or flies bothering us, a comfort indeed as we settle under our woven-matte semi-tents for the night. Sorry that we can't share our campsite evening images as the batteries died and the video card on the digital camera was full!
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Fish 'n Fins
Fish 'n Fins, the pioneer dive shop in Palau, offers a variety of
activities: diving, snorkeling, hiking and canoeing. It offers a flexible
itinerary and personalized service, as well as amenities on the dive
boats, including toilet, shower and oxygen. Tova and Navot Bornovski
are available every day to greet their guests and assure personal
Diving offers high voltage action at Blue Corner, gentle Giant Manta
Rays at German Channel, historic WWII wrecks, mysterious jellyfish
at Jellyfish Lake and the psychedelic mandarinfish at Fish 'n Fins Wall.
Tova and Navot with their outrigger canoe.
In between dives hikers can discover the rain forest's lush fauna,
majestic waterfalls and historical and cultural sites.
There is also good fishing available. Canoeing follows the
traditions of old Palau, but with a western comfort. There
are expeditions to Bat Caves, Yap's stone money quarry, an
ancient sunken village, Rock Islands and mangrove channels.
For more information, please visit Fish 'n Fins' website at www.fishnfins.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (680) 488-2637, fax (680) 488-5418.
Staying at the Palau Pacific Resort
Palau Pacific Resort is one of the top-rated luxury resorts in Micronesia. Situated near a 1,000 foot white sand beach, it has every amenity you would expect of an award winning international resort.
Palau Pacific Resort.
The property features an array of leisure activities such as Splash, a PADI Five Star Dive Center, and Photo Palau, a full service photo and video center. Poolside is the center for watersports, including windsurfing, snorkeling, sailing or kayaking. There is a fitness center, outdoor tennis courts and guided hiking on a botanical nature trail.
For more information call (680) 488-2600, fax (680) 488-1606 or 1601. Check out the website at www.panpac.com or send e-mail to email@example.com.