Photo: Blue Orange Studios/Shutterstock

What to Know Before Swimming in Palau's Jellyfish-Filled Lake

Palau Wildlife Beaches and Islands
by Matador Creators Jan 3, 2023

Jellyfish Lake in Palau is a marvel of nature and a popular tourist destination. Formed over 12,000 years ago by the rising sea levels that also created Palau’s other famous Rock Islands, this lake is home to millions of ‘golden’ jellyfish (Mastigias papua) that swim in its crystal blue waters.

Many people come to the lake to swim and snorkel with the gentle creatures, who have no natural predator or competition for food in the lake — it’s an ideal environment for them to thrive. Because of that, they don’t need the same defenses as other jellies, and thus have such weak stinging capabilities that they can’t hurt humans.

Where is Palau’s Jellyfish Lake?

Jellyfish Lake is located on Eil Malk Island in Palau, one of the most beautiful and remote island nations in the world. The lake itself is within a marine sanctuary, surrounded by ancient limestone cliffs and lush rainforest. Despite its remote location, Jellyfish Lake is easily accessible via boat from Koror or Angaur islands, making it an ideal destination for travelers looking for a unique day trip.

Palau can be reached by plane from Guam, Manilla in the Philippines, and other major cities in Asia. Most flights to Palau land at Roman Tmetuchl International Airport (ROR) on Babeldaob Island. From there, it’s super-easy to reach Jellyfish Lake. Just drive to Koror (about 15 minutes south of the airport), where you can sign up for a speedboat tour to the lake.

Visiting Jellyfish Lake

A jelly swimming in palau's jellyfish lake with sky above

Photo: Blue Orange Studio/Shutterstock

Visitors can visit Jellyfish Lake year-round, but the best time to go is between April and October when jellyfish numbers are at their peak. There are several tour operators offering day trips to the lake from Koror or Angaur islands, and tours typically include snorkeling gear, a guide to help you navigate the jellyfish-filled waters, and lunch or snacks on board. The speedboat ride from Koror is about 45 minutes, and then it’s just a very short walk to the lake.

Visitors to Jellyfish Lake in Palau are asked to follow a few simple guidelines to reduce their impact on the jellyfish population. Firstly, touching jellyfish or any other marine life should be avoided as much as possible. Secondly, plastic bags and other forms of litter should not be brought into the lake with you. Lastly, sunscreen and insect repellent can damage jellyfish populations, so only wear reef-safe sunscreen (and be sure to wear SPF clothing on the boat). Always practice Leave No Trance principles, and note that the lake will occasionally close if marine biologists determine that the jellies need a little extra protection at any given time.

Do all jellyfish sting people?

Snorkeler in the water of Jellyfish lake in Palau

Photo: Blue Orange Studios/Shutterstock

Not all jellyfish sting people. Many jellyfish have tentacles that contain stinging cells called nematocysts, which they use for defense and to capture prey. However, not all species of jellyfish are capable of stinging humans, and some that are capable of stinging may not do so unless they are provoked or threatened. Some species of jellyfish have tentacles that are too short or too weak to be able to deliver a sting that is painful to humans, while others do not have tentacles at all. So it’s not fair to say that all jellyfish are dangerous — but it’s rare to find such an isolated place as Jellyfish Lake, where you can be absolutely sure there are no other types of jellies in the water.

Jellyfish Lake is populated primarily by the golden jellyfish (Mastigias papua). However, there’s also a small population of moon jellies. The moon jellyfish are potentially invasive; since lake is near other bodies of water, invasive species are an ongoing concern.


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