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The Republic of Palau, in Micronesia, is a spectacular 400-mile-long strand of volcanic islands & limestone coral islets strewn across the Pacific. Their bases, having been worn away by tidal action and grazing sea creatures, are narrower than their tops causing some to compare them to giant mushrooms; others think they look like fuzzy green emeralds floating on a sapphire sea. Only 8 islands are inhabited, with the capital of Koror serving as the traveler’s hub. Palau’s mushroom-shaped rock islands offer a variety of exciting dives: WWII wrecks, shark-infested channels, blue holes, a freshwater lake with stingless jellyfish and even a few caves. There are also sheer walls covered in lush soft corals and huge anemones.