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Underwater coral and fish


A snorkel and diving adventure

Travel to one of the most sustainable destinations in the world with a Stanford scholar who has longstanding ties to the area. Drawing from his teaching, research and coastal science missions in Palau, Professor Rob Dunbar provides valuable insights to the natural world we’ll explore.

Each day brings snorkel or diving excursions in waters that boast more than 1,500 species of fish, more than 700 species of coral and a variety of pelagic organisms. Explore barrier reefs, inner lagoons, seagrass beds and awe-inspiring mangrove forests. In addition, we’ll learn about ancient Yapese culture, one of the most unique and best-preserved cultures within Micronesia, and spend a day immersed in the history and impacts of WWII on the island of Palau.


February 2–12, 2023


11 days


From $10,795 per person

Trip size

23 participants

Minimum age

14 years

Faculty leader

A different kind of classroom

With renowned Stanford faculty and scholars leading the way, every Travel/Study trip is a one-of-a-kind educational experience.

Rob Dunbar

Earth Systems Science

Rob is interested in global climate change and how we translate scientific knowledge into better policies and practices to promote the sustainable use of the Earth.

A Long History in Palau

Professor Dunbar has been conducting coral reef research in Palau since 2005 and has twice served as the leader for the International Atomic Energy Agency for coastal science missions in Palau (including 2021-2024). He regularly teaches a Stanford undergraduate field course on coral reef ecology and management in Palau, most recently in 2022.

Our Lecture Program

Learn about marine ecology and island conservation during our trip. Professor Dunbar's lectures will cover the following topics:

  • Islands, cultures, corals, and marine environments and organisms of Palau, Yap and the broader Coral Triangle of the western Pacific

  • Geopolitics of Marine Protected Areas, fishing rights and island nation sovereignty


An immersive adventure in Palau and Yap

In addition to daily water activities at some of the world’s most incredible snorkel and dive sites, we connect with the local communities to learn about their ancient culture as well as modern-day life on these remote islands. On the island of Palau, we explore the history and impacts of WWII.

  • Palau

    Upon arrival in Palau, transfer to the Palau Pacific Hotel, our home for the next seven nights.


    Palau Pacific Hotel

  • Palau

    After a morning briefing and breakfast, we grab bento boxes and depart for a day in the water. Today's snorkel sites are shallow and calm, allowing us to test our snorkel gear and brush up on skills. After a full day with two snorkel excursions, return to the hotel for dinner.


    Palau Pacific Hotel

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • to


    In the true spirit of exploration, daily activities are determined based on current weather and tide conditions to ensure we visit the best sites at the most ideal times. The following is a sampling of locations we hope to experience:

    Rock Islands
    Board a covered speed boat and enjoy gorgeous tropical scenery en route to Palau’s geologically fascinating Rock Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Jellyfish Lake
    Take a short hike through lush forest to the world-famous Jellyfish Lake. Snorkel among thousands of melon-sized jellyfish, that have become stingless through centuries of isolation and relations with symbiotic algae. Swimming alongside these pulsating creatures as they follow the movement of the sun is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    German Channel
    During the German occupation of Palau, this channel was blasted and dredged to connect the inner lagoon of Angur Island to the open ocean. Explore these nutrient-rich waters that flow into the channel with the tide as they attract manta rays, schools of sharks, jacks, barracudas, trevallies and snappers. The sandy bottom is home to garden eels and blind gobies.

    Ngemelis Conservation Area
    A sheer vertical wall runs along the length of Ngemelis Island, providing a habitat for soft, leather and fan corals. Watch for colorful anemones and an abundance of reef fish on the reef's upper layers. Sharks, green and hawksbill turtles, Moorish idols, sergeant majors, and a variety of butterflyfish and angelfish patrol the reef edge.

    Long Lake
    Conditions permitting, enjoy a kayaking excursion at Long Lake. Paddle through winding mangrove forest, keeping an eye out for kingfishers, herons and fruit doves. The calm waters provide habitat for a variety of juvenile fish with frequent sightings of young spotted eagle rays and feathertail stingrays. Step ashore on a powdery white-sand beach, fringed by rich tropical rainforest, to watch for nesting birds, then go for a snorkel at Einstein's Coral Garden to marvel at its collection of multi-colored brain coral.

    Cemetery Reef
    Named for an artificial structure in the shape of a cross that was placed on top of the reef, Cemetery Reef is a great snorkel site with many hard and soft corals at shallow depth. The area abounds with small reef fish such as fusiliers, anthias and rainbow runners.

    Giant Calm Beach
    Hundreds of giant tridacna clams, some weighing up to 500 pounds, line the beach here. With an amazing variation of color and patterns within the clams' iridescent mantles, these beautiful living pieces of art make fantastic subjects for photographers.

    Stone Monoliths
    Possibly the oldest and largest archaeological site in Palau, the Badrulchau Stone Monoliths are situated on the slopes of Babeldaob Island. Explore the site, consisting of 52 basalt megaliths lined up in two rows, estimated to date back to around the year 161.


    Palau Pacific Hotel

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Peleliu, Palau

    During WWII, Palau was the site of a fierce battle between the United States and Japan. Peleliu was the site of one of the Pacific's bloodiest battles as U.S. Marines made an amphibious assault on the beaches in an attempt to liberate the island from Japanese forces. Visit the infamous Thousand Man Cave and the Japanese Shrine, and witness remnants of Japanese buildings, gun emplacements, tanks, planes and weapons still scattered around the island today.


    Palau Pacific Hotel

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Palau / Yap / Blue Holes

    After breakfast at the hotel, board our charter flight to Yap, which includes a sightseeing tour over the Rock Islands for stunning aerial views of the verdant limestone islets. Upon arrival in Yap, transfer to our hotel for lunch. Spend the afternoon snorkeling at Blue Holes. Named for the sandy holes in Tomil Lagoon, they contain large hard coral outcrops and are often surrounded by fields of staghorn coral. Stingrays are often found resting in some of the shallower holes.


    Manta Ray Beach Resort

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Manta Ridge, Yap

    After breakfast, take a speed boat to Manta Ridge, a 30-foot ridge of coral that straddles Mi'l Channel. Conditions permitting, enjoy a drift snorkel as the tidal current allows easy access for manta rays to glide in and out of the lagoon. The area is also popular with white-tip and gray reef sharks, as well as schools of jacks and black snappers.


    Manta Ray Beach Resort

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Colonia, Yap

    This morning. explore the small town of Colonia and take a cultural excursion to learn how the Yapese have surpassed the rest of Micronesia in preserving their ancient culture. Stroll through a traditional Yapese village and learn about the history, and modern-day life, of the Yapese people. After lunch, enjoy free time before a late afternoon sunset cruise followed by a farewell dinner at the hotel.


    Manta Ray Beach Resort

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Yap / Home

    After resting at the hotel, depart in the early hours of the morning—shortly after midnight on February 11th—for Yap International Airport to board flights home.

Trip details

Start preparing for the trip of a lifetime

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The price of your trip covers a comprehensive educational program in addition to meals, accommodations, tours and excursions. Continue reading for a full list of what’s included.

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