If you are planning on visiting Palau, the question comes up – “Is it worth renting a car?”.
The simple answer is “Yes”, but the longer answer of mine is “For a day or two only”.
Palau is made up of thousands of islands spread across the Pacific Ocean. For most activities, you will be taking a boat. If you are staying in Koror, the capital city, you will mostly be on foot or in traffic if you drive. I would recommend renting a car to see the rest of the island.
When I visited Palau earlier this year, I rented a car for 1 day. Most of my time was spent walking around downtown, going out with the dive shop to other islands, or again, on foot with friends in the downtown area. I could have used a second day of having a car to see more, but in all honesty, one day of driving was enough for me. I was so active that I did not want to drive by the time it hit dinnertime.
If you are renting a car in Palau, here is what you need to know:
Rent from a Hotel
Unless you want to rent a car your entire stay, do not rent from the airport. The airport is about 15-20 minutes away from downtown Koror (in no traffic) and it would take you out-of-the-way to go back there for a car rental.
Many hotels have car rental agencies within them. They rent to the public as well and their rates are reasonable. I stayed at West Plaza Hotel by the Sea and got a four door sedan for $55 total (with taxes) for one day. That, to me, was worth it and the car was very good on gas.
Ask to Drop Off at the Airport
Many car agencies will let you drop off the car at the airport and I had no idea! This is as if you are getting a free ride to the airport within your cost.
The rental car agency I used, West Car Rental, told me to park anywhere and leave the keys under the mat. Literally I asked “Anywhere?”. The parking lot is so small, they said they would find it no problem and they were right. I took a photo of where I parked it just to be cautious. I received no phone call or extra fees, guess it was all OK.
Drive North and Explore Baldeldaob
Only accessible by car for a traveler, drive up north past the airport to explore the island of Badeldaob. You can drive along the coast for a bit towards Melekeok, up to Choll, to the top of the island at Ollei.
Along the way, you will see how the locals live, villagers, schools, and get to drive through the mountains. There are not that many beaches and I tried to find one near Melekeok, but decided to keep on driving.
You will see many WWII tanks and landmarks. If you did not know, Palau was badly hurt in the war and signs of the destruction are left on the island.
Check Out the Waterfalls
Drive to Ngardmau Falls where you can hike and take a dip in the waterfall.
It is about a 30 minute drive from Koror. The waterfall is open daily and it is only $5 for parking. To get there, pass the airport in Baldeldoab, cross over the bridge, and make a left at the gas station going towards Aimelik. There will be a marker 19 or 20 which indicates the entrance.
When you park, you will hike through the Natural Reserve and spot natural ruins on your way. It will be tempting to jump into natural pools which form from the Ngertebechel River.
The waterfall is the highest is Palau and is 120 feet tall. Wear comfortable shoes and a suggestion is to have a guided walk to hear the legends of the waterfall and surrounding areas.
Meyungs is connected to Koror via a bridge, but having a car makes it much easier to get to.
Visit high end restaurants situated at the top of hills for stunning views. More 5 star bed and breakfasts are on this island which have cocktail bars and nightlife for everyone to enjoy.
The best part is – this is where the beach is in Koror! You can taxi if you like since it is not that far from the bridge, or take a car and easily park it in the lot.
Have you rented a car in Palau?