Rock Islands, Palau

The Rock Islands are located south of Palau's main island Babeldaob in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Wind, weather and the ocean have shaped the more than 400 small islets into an idyllic paradise of lush vegetation, unique lakes, breathtaking beaches, colourful underwater worlds and spectacular limestone formations.

The Rock Islands (literally "rock islands") are part of the idyllic South Sea atoll of Palau and are actually called Chelbacheb Islands. They are part of Koror Island and lie just south of Palau's main island of Babeldaob. The picturesque islands are among our top 10 sights in the South Seas.


Scattered over an area of 70 square kilometres, the Rock Islands stretch over 40 kilometres from the southwest of Koror Island to the north of Peleliu Island. On both sides, the Rock Islands are surrounded by a coral reef. To Koror Island, the reef is naturally open; in the south-western outer reef is the "German Channel", an artificial breach created during German colonisation.

None of the more than 400 limestone islands is permanently inhabited, but the Palauans use the small islets time and again for cultural purposes and, of course, as a holiday destination.

Archaeological finds and petroglyphs on the islands of Ngeruktabel, Ngeanges and Chomedokl testify that the Rock Islands were inhabited by people about 5,000 years ago. On some islands, the stone remains of entire villages can still be found, but they were abandoned by the 18th century at the latest, when the population moved to the larger islands.

However, the culture of the former inhabitants of the Rock Islands is still present in Palau today in the form of myths, legends, dances and proverbs.

On the road through the Rock Islands of Palau

Wind, weather and the ocean have sculpted spectacular limestone formations, Rock Islands, Palau - © Ethan Daniels / Shutterstock
© Ethan Daniels / Shutterstock

The limestone islands of the Rock Islands of Palau are covered all over with lush green vegetation and rise like emerald mushrooms from the deep blue sea of the Pacific.

Over the millennia, the tides have shaped them into a wide variety of forms. Many of the islands are washed out and the incessant swell has carved caves, arches and bridges into the limestone.

Others lie directly on special ocean currents, giving the entire island an almost circular shape. The southern lagoon of the Rock Islands has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2012.

The world-famous Jellyfish Lake on the Rock Islands in Palau is home to millions of jellyfish - © Ethan Daniels / Shutterstock
© Ethan Daniels / Shutterstock

Nowhere else in the world are brackish lakes found in such dense concentrations as in the Rock Islands. Some of them have developed into exceptional habitats. The most famous brackish lake in the Rock Islands is on Eil Malk Island and is known as Jellyfish Lake. It is the only place in the world that is home to a non-toxic species of jellyfish.

The Rock Islands have been explored by holidaymakers for decades. The idyllic group of islands offers fantastic beaches and a colourful underwater world, a paradise for divers and snorkellers. Those who prefer to keep their head above water should not miss a visit to the Rock Islands either. A trip by boat or kayak through the fascinating limestone formations of the winding island world guarantees breathtaking nature experiences!

Tip: The Rock Islands on Palau are protected. Both water and land may only be walked or driven on in certain places. The best way to explore the beauty of this island world is with a guided tour.

Related links:

Tours of the Rock Islands (English)