Magic Underwater: Swimming with Jellyfish in Palau

Posted on November 21, 2012 by

Green, green, green all around me. Besides a few strands of dirt, I could hardly see anything in the dark, emerald water.

But I swam on, armed with nothing more than my snorkeling mask and fins, into the darkness. My group of friends had plunged in earlier, leaving me alone, slightly nervous in this jade green water world. “We saw a crocodile here last week,” said the park ranger, just before I dived in. That didn’t help.

I’d swum barely twenty meters before a  beige-ish jellyfish appeared out of the blue.  I examined it and smiled to myself.

Soon another jellyfish appeared, this time even bigger than before.

And then another showed up. And another.

All of a sudden, hundreds of translucent jellyfish surrounded me, pulsating unanimously in a hypnotic rhythm. I stayed still to observe the creatures as they bobbed gracefully up and down, their translucent skin glowing under the sunlight and their short curly tentacles dancing in the water. With slight hesitation, I stretched my hands out to touch them and was wildly surprised when one of them glided gently by my fingers, right into my cupped hands. Entranced by the graceful movements of the underwater ballerinas before me, I watched in bewilderment.

All of a sudden, hundreds of translucent jellyfish surrounded me, pulsating unanimously in a hypnotic rhythm.

Nature’s Anomaly

Thankfully, these aren’t your average jellyfish — In Palau’s Jellyfish Lake, these jellyfish are miraculously ‘stingless’ and there are thousands of them who call this home. Scientists aren’t sure exactly how or from where the jellyfish arrived, but over the years, they have somehow evolved  to lose most of their sting (probably due to lack of predators).  Naturally, they are a very fragile species and they need to be protected on various levels to ensure their continued existence.

Fortunately the Palauan government is very serious about protecting Jellyfish Lake and its unique inhabitants. The Koror State Permit costs US$35 per person and the government has stipulated an additional green fee for all visitors of the country. There are even park rangers at the site to make sure that there’s no foul play.

With Palau’s eco-conscious approach to conservation, I’m confident Jellyfish Lake will stay this way for a long, long time. Meanwhile, get there soon because you never know when the jellyfish may decide to stop dancing.

Here are some photos by my friend Michelle Jerson who was there with me. (My GoPro was super lame underwater). Read her article about Palau on her blog, Passport Romance.

A lonesome jellyfish bobs in a hypnotic rhythm

A jellyfish comes right up to the camera lens

 Their short, curly tentacles dance in the water

More golden jellyfish beaming under the sunlight

That’s me, looking slightly afraid to hurting these fragile creatures

Michelle with a jellyfish in her cupped hands

 There are literally thousands of them in the water…


I visited Jellyfish Lake as part of a diving trip with Sam’s Tours. There are also snorkeling day-trips or island-hopping trips that include a stop here. Check this page for a list of tours.

Disclaimer: My trip was hosted by Sam’s Tours and Palau Visitors Authority, but all opinions above are my own.

About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

38 Responses to “Magic Underwater: Swimming with Jellyfish in Palau”

  1. @GetACarHire November 22, 2012 2:33 am #

    Aww. These tiny creatures look so fragile & yet so beautiful. That must be a one-in-a-million experience.
    -Mark @ GetACarHire

    • Nellie December 3, 2012 5:45 am #

      They are extremely fragile, we were asked not to kick too hard when we dove in as they can easily get injured by our fins. It was a very rare and unique experience, hope you make it there soon!

  2. Car Hire Germany November 22, 2012 5:23 am #

    It seems to be a wonderful experience. Jelly fish looks wonderful.

  3. Delhi Information November 26, 2012 6:00 am #

    Woooh! This is such an amazing experience. Lucky you!
    Hope I get to visit them while they are "still dancing" :)

  4. ElaineSchoch November 26, 2012 11:23 pm #

    Your photos are great! I was kinda nervous when you said you were surrounded by hundreds of jelly fish. Glad they were stingless. =)

  5. Jason November 27, 2012 10:09 pm #

    Awesome.Truly amazing experience.I like the many different jelly fish!I wish I can visit there too.Seeing the pictures makes me feel relax.I'm glad you shared this.Thanks.

  6. Eva December 11, 2012 3:35 am #

    I just amazed with God's creation !!!
    Great photos, thanks for share with us :)))

  7. Migration Expert December 19, 2012 1:00 am #

    They are so cute and colorful. I wonder if your skin doesn't itch after the underwater swimming with jellyfish because I read on an article before that their tentacles can cause itchiness in the skin.

  8. alex December 26, 2012 9:09 am #

    travel envy! Palau is on my diving Bucket List – hope to travel here this coming year :-)

    • @WildJunket December 29, 2012 11:49 am #

      If you're a diver, you would absolutely love Palau! Hope you get there soon.

  9. Laura January 5, 2013 4:42 am #

    What an amazing experience! Love your pics :)

  10. Yeity January 9, 2013 5:47 am #

    Yea, we tried that one (unintentionally) in Australia, not the same effect….pretty awkward when your backpacking roomie has to pee on you. The Palau jellies are pretty amaze balls – like the xanax versions of the real deal

  11. Faisal January 31, 2013 8:34 pm #

    Beautiful pictures, I really like the reddish/orange one.

  12. General Knowledge March 3, 2013 8:02 am #

    Dancing with Jellyfish in water. You feel amazed swimming with Jellyfish, the most dangerous creature in world.

  13. Pam Fat March 5, 2013 2:33 am #

    Wow! This is an amazing post.. I wish I could experience that too. Jellyfish really looks great. I admire you for that knowing that jellyfish are dangerous.

    • @WildJunket April 15, 2013 7:29 pm #

      hey John, no these jellyfish have evolved into a poisonous, stingless species (read my write-up above).

  14. Jessica March 13, 2013 1:55 am #

    what amazing photos!!!!! would love to experience that one day!

  15. Happy Philippines March 14, 2013 8:51 am #

    awesome!!! this is on my bucketlist – swimming with the stingless jellyfish, but will do it in the Philippines this summer. crossing my fingers.

    • @WildJunket April 15, 2013 7:30 pm #

      Do you have them in the Philippines too???

  16. agate cameo March 22, 2013 4:41 pm #

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  17. Jasa Beli Barang March 23, 2013 2:28 am #

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    • @WildJunket April 15, 2013 7:30 pm #

      Oops sorry about that! I'll check to see if we can resolve that.

  18. Mint April 6, 2013 3:02 am #

    i have seen jellyfish many times on Discovery but its always great to see them alive..i had this opportunity in Mauritius.
    -Mint @

  19. maximuz04 April 13, 2013 4:06 am #

    Amazing, I am going soon!!! To add to this, I am a huge fan of UNESCO world heritage sites (as obvious by my blog). Did you know that the UNESCO inscription says that the rock islands, where the jellyfish are, show different epochs of evolution. It is like looking back a thousand, then a million, then 10 million years all in the same group of islands. It is unique to Palau.

    • @WildJunket April 15, 2013 7:32 pm #

      Thanks for sharing! It is indeed fascinating to know that the rock islands show the different epochs of evolution- I didn't know that!

  20. Dream Holidays Guide April 23, 2013 5:12 am #

    Adding this on my bucket list! Beautiful captures! Such an amazing experience in Palau indeed!

  21. @wanderlustersuk May 15, 2013 7:10 am #

    What a fantastic sight! We encountered some similarly translucent beings while diving out at Osprey reef in the Coral Sea. They looked so ornate floating amongst the inky blue. Fab photos Nellie and excellent snorkel pose!

  22. online video creator May 20, 2013 4:57 am #

    Very amazing pictures. I like sea creatures. If you have some more pics. so please upload it. Thank you for sharing these pics. :)

  23. Keandre Morris May 22, 2013 2:20 am #

    Amazing photos! Cute harmless colorful jellos. I thought this was an incredible experience. Hopefully, I'll have my chance soon.

  24. Gabriel May 26, 2013 2:13 pm #

    That is amazing. I saw a documentary on these. Don't you have to go for a 10-20 minute swim before you get to the sanctuary where there are 1,000's?

    • Nellie May 26, 2013 11:10 pm #

      hey Gabriel, thanks for dropping by! Yes it indeed was a phenomenal experience – nothing like I\’ve ever seen. To get to this particular jellyfish lake, we had to hike inland for perhaps 10-15 minutes. Perhaps the one you\’re talking about is somewhere else in Palau. :)

      • Gabriel May 27, 2013 8:12 am #

        Could be, either way it looks awesome and I want to go =)

  25. Palau bound June 6, 2013 9:28 pm #

    Do u know why your go pro didn’t work well? Which one do you have?

    • Nellie June 7, 2013 8:11 am #

      We have the GoPro Hero2, it works well underwater only if you have the diving case. I recommend getting the new model or the diving case. Are you heading to Palau?

  26. Palau bound June 9, 2013 11:18 pm #

    Yes I am heading to Palau for ten days. My sister lives there. The last time I went was in 2001 when she got married so we didn’t have time to explore like I wanted to. I have the gopro3 with the diving housing. I just bought that red cover that is supposed to help with the colors when diving. Hopefully it will work well.

    • Nellie June 10, 2013 10:41 am #

      Wow that\’s awesome! Palau is an amazing place to be, we\’re very jealous of your sister! Our best dive was at the blue corner, plenty of white tip sharks and rays, be sure to go there. :)

  27. jual apartemen July 29, 2013 1:43 am #

    come on diving @ Bali :)

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