A scenic flight over the Rock Islands is one of the most popular things for tourists to do in Palau, and it’s easy to see why: this is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Pacific!
While it’s a great idea to visit the Rock Islands on a boat tour, the scenic flight gives you an amazing perspective that is just hard to beat.
I joined one of these flights recently on a little prop plane with Pacific Mission Aviation, and the whole thing was a great experience.
They take the doors off for pictures, and you get an overhead view of the town of Koror, followed by hundreds of Palau’s nicest islands, lakes, and lagoons. It’s paradise!
This travel blog will explain everything you need to know about the Palau scenic flights, including the booking process, prices, safety, and what to expect when you’re in the air. I’ll also share some of the pictures I took on my own flight!
The Rock Islands are located about 10 kilometers (6 miles) southwest of mainland Koror, Palau, so they’re easy to reach by plane.
With a prop plane, you can get to the main islands in about 10 minutes, although the scenery starts as soon as you lift off from Koror!
Scenic flights in Palau have been pioneered by a company called Pacific Mission Aviation (PMA), and they’re currently the only company that offers scenic flights over Palau.
PMA is primarily a Christian missionary organization, and by doing a scenic flight with them you’re helping to subsidize the humanitarian and medical work they do in the islands, while also helping them offset the costs of the inter-island flights they run for Palauan locals.
They’re doing a great work in Palau, and being able to contribute to that is a nice little bonus of being on one of their scenic flights!
My scenic flight in Palau started with a 10:20 AM pickup from my hotel in Koror.
I was traveling solo, but I had contacted PMA in advance and they were able to join me with a group of 3 other passengers doing the Rock Islands flight that day.
I hopped in the PMA van with the other passengers, and together we made the quick 20 minute drive over to their hangar at the Palau International Airport.
For check in, we spent a few minutes filling out a liability waiver and they charged our credit cards, and then we went out to the hangar to get ready for our flight in the Cessna 206.
PMA takes the doors off of the plane for all of their scenic flights, which gives you great views and photo opportunities. For safety, you’ll have a seat belt and there’s also a safety bar that covers part of the open doorway.
The main thing you need to be careful about is sticking your phone or camera out the open door. The wind can be strong, so you have to hold it really tight with both hands or you might lose it.
If this is your first time flying in a little prop plane like this, then you may be a bit nervous lifting off the ground at first, but you forget about that pretty quick once you’re in the air.
The views are amazing even as you leave Koror. The town may not seem like anything special when you’re on the ground, but from above you can see that it’s actually surrounded by all kinds of lagoons and limestone rock formations.
PMA handed each of us a headset to wear, which blocked some of the noise from the plane, and they gave a commentary explaining all of the sights in Palau as we flew over. The Rock Islands look so perfect from above. It’s one of my favorite landscapes anywhere!
We saw tropical islands of all different shapes and sizes, with turquoise lagoons, white sand beaches, barren sandbars, and rock arches. Even with a drone, you could never hope to get views like this.
Some of the famous landmarks we spotted along the way include the Milky Way, Jellyfish Lake, German Channel, and the iconic ’70 Islands’ formation that you usually see on postcards and other souvenirs from Palau.
The total experience took about 2 hours including the pick-up and drop-off from my hotel, and the flight time is about 40 minutes, but we got to see and photograph so many things in that amount of time!
As a cool bonus after we arrived back at the hangar, we got to watch a C130 plane from the Australian Air Force land on the same runway.
The Palau scenic flights normally go in the morning, when there’s the best chance for clear weather. The sky was totally clear when we started our tour, and by the time some clouds began to build, we were already back at the hangar.
The time of year doesn’t matter too much, since Palau has plenty of rain all year long. The driest months in Koror and the Rock Islands are January to April, but even those months have plenty of rain.
I wouldn’t worry about it too much either way, because the rain tends to come in the evening or at night. You can never guarantee you’ll have perfect weather no matter when you go.
I visited Palau in September, which is supposed to be one of the more rainy months of the year, but actually the weather was perfect and there was no rain at all for several days, so it didn’t affect my travels one bit.
As a solo traveler on this trip, I paid $180 USD plus a 3.5% charge for paying by credit card. They accept US credit cards, but not American Express.
Their flights have a 3 passenger minimum, so that can also affect the cost. If they don’t have at least 3 passengers for your flight, then you may have to pay extra or reschedule it.
You can check the current prices and other terms on their website. They provide free hotel pickup and drop-off in Palau, and there’s no charge to take the doors off the plane.
Pacific Mission Aviation has been doing flights in Palau since 2012. In addition to the scenic flights, they also do inter-island flights in Palau to places like Angaur and Peleliu, so they have a fair amount of experience.
A plane is only as safe as the person flying it, but the Cessna 206 is generally known to be a safe and reliable aircraft. I wouldn’t want to fly one every day for my occupation, but I think a short scenic flight like this is very safe.
Yes, I think the Palau scenic flight is totally worth it! This is one of the best landscapes in the world, and there’s no better way to see it than from above.
It’s an amazing experience, and the price is very reasonable for what you get. For comparison, I paid almost twice as much for my Great Blue Hole flight in Belize, and also for the Franz Josef glacier helicopter tour that my wife and I did in New Zealand.
On the Palau flight, I was able to take lots of great pictures of the Rock Islands, and overall it was much better and cheaper than similar tours I’ve done around the world.
Overall, as a photographer, this flight was a much better experience than my scenic flight over the Great Blue Hole in Belize, although that was fun too.
While many people choose to see the islands with a scenic flight, another great option is to visit them with a boat tour.
On a speed boat tour to the Rock Islands of Palau, you can swim in a bright turquoise lagoon nicknamed the Milky Way, walk on a soft white sandbar called Long Beach, and even snorkel in a lake full of stingless jellyfish!
If you have the time and budget, you should try to do both activities. The scenic flight and boat tour are very different experiences, but they’re both amazing!
Read More: Rock Islands Palau Boat Tour
Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this guide for how to do a Palau scenic flight over the Rock Islands. It was one of my favorite experiences in the little country of Palau.
Don’t forget to check out my other travel blog posts before you go!
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