16 April 2009 | Ulong Island
After a relaxing day reading and resting the crews of Swingin' on a Star and Whistler set out to hike around Ulong island in search of the old settlement and petroglyphs. We started out on a Kayak plan but there are six of us and only 4 kayak places. In the end we took our dinghy and Eric Kayaked.
It was an amazingly calm afternoon. There was no wind whatsoever and the ocean was like glass. The coral gardens surrounding Ulong became a veritable aquarium. We could see clearly through the green water into the reefs and watch the damsels, parrot fish, butterfly fish and even a turtle swimming about.
We chose a secluded beach in a protected cove as our first point to disembark. It was getting close to low tide so we had to tilt the engine up in several places to get over the skinny bits. Ashore we found the jungle of the rock island fairly forgiving. You could pretty easily make your way through the banyans, betel nut and other vegetation. Surprisingly there are not too many coconut palms on these limestone islands.
Getting trough the vegetation was only half the battle however. These islands are basically coral reefs pushed up into the air. If you've ever walked on a dried out coral reef you know how jagged and viscous such rock can be. Rock Islands are not famous for their sweeping meadows either. You are either climbing up, or climbing down.
It was about 5PM when we left the beach and the boats behind and trekked into the jungle. After surmounting the top of the first cliff in a tangle of banyan roots we could look down on a stagnant pool in a little valley to the right and some impressive and sheer limestone cliffs to the left, all covered in dangling roots, vines and other greenery. Heading off to the left we found a small limestone glade that looked as if it could have been a camp or small village at one time, though we found no recognizable remains. There was another cliff ahead to surmount if we wanted to go on, so due to the general lack of proper footwear and failing light we decided to "on back" it as the hashers say.
Next we went around to the main beach on the west side of Ulong, where all of the dive boats break for lunch, to explore a bit. What do you know, they had a map of the site of the petroglyphs and the village at the very back of the BBQ area. The only problem is that the sign is in Palauan. From what we could make out, had we crossed that last cliff we would have ended up here.
We circumnavigated Ulong on the way back to the anchorage. The three islands that are Ulong make an interesting place to explore, with no shortage of challenging hikes. The evening was cool and the water was clear and green as we made our way home for the night.