Sitting on the east coast of Palau’s largest island, Melekeok, at 11 square miles, is a tiny jewel on the south Pacific. It has swampy marshes home to forests of mangrove and a long stretch of beaches occasionally punctuated by steep ridges, making it an ideal playground for the “big drop” (jumping off from a rock formation straight into the waters below) . Inland, the hills are covered with sparse vegetation –as sparse as the population, at less than 400 in 2005 – and thick forests along the Rael Kedam Divide on the eastern flank. Melekeok’s breathtaking vistas is an apt introduction to a small Pacific nation with the whitest of beaches, crystal-clearest of waters, unspoilt coral reefs, and one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystem. And no, the jellyfish here don’t sting.