Surely some of you have seen photos like the above. Mushroom or better broccoli shaped islands in deep blue waters surrounded by brillant coral reefs. This is Palau, a group of islands about 3 to 4 hours away from the Philippines. Palau is an independent nation only since the 1990's and is firmly on the dive map not only because of its famous Blue Corner (a well known dive site) but also for declaring the worlds first shark sanctuary. Heike and I spent about a week on these magnificent little islands and while our first days were affected by a tropical storm - actually a typhoon which thankfully missed us - we had some great diving days and also sailed to Peleliu Island further south to learn about the role the islands played in the second world war when soldiers fought for more than 70 days for an island that one can drive around in a few minutes. Photos below.