Lighthouses of Palau

Palau (also spelled Belau or Pelew) is an island nation at the southeastern edge of the Philippine Sea, west of the islands of the Micronesian federation. The islands were claimed by Spain, but there was little European contact until the 1880s, when Germany occupied several of the islands. After the Spanish-American War of 1898, Spain sold its interest in Palau to Germany. In 1914, early in World War I, the islands were annexed by Japan. American forces captured Palau in 1944 after bloody fighting.

Following World War II, Palau was governed by the U.S. as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Palau was the last region of the trust territory to achieve its independence, in 1994. The new country signed a compact of free association with the United States; this agreement provides for U.S. economic subsidies and continues various U. S. domestic services to Palau's citizens.

Navigational aids in Palau are managed by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries, and Commerce.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume M of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 111.

* Aivon (Babeldaob, Babelthuap, Babelthaup)
Date unknown. Inactive since 1941(?). Practically nothing is known about this Japanese lighthouse. A Japanese blog has a photo of a ruined building (2/3 the way down the page); the caption above the photo describes it as "traces of the northernmost lighthouse built by Japanese forces." A web page on the World War II submarine USS Batfish mentions "the Aivon lighthouse on northern tip of Babelthaup Island" as a prominent landmark, and there are several references to U.S. dive bomber attacks on the lighthouse during October 1944. Located on the extreme northern tip of Babeldaob (Babelthuap), the largest island of Palau. Google has a satellite view of this area that may show the ruins. The island is connected to Koror by a bridge. Site open.
* Koror (Roisremiu)
1903. Inactive since 1941(?). 9 m (30 ft) round stone tower, in ruins; the base of the lantern remains. The top of the tower is accessible via a rusty exterior ladder. The lantern dome is lying on the ground nearby. A photo is at right, and Steven Maher has posted a closeup photo. This lighthouse was built by Germany, which controlled Palau between 1899 and 1914. A 1991 postage stamp shows an idealized view of the lighthouse when it was in service. When the U.S. reality TV show Survivor was filmed in Palau in 2004-05, the Tribal Council set was not far from the lighthouse. Located at an elevation of 250 m (820 ft) on Urukthapel (Ngeruktabel) island marking the entrance to the Lighthouse Channel and the harbor of Koror, the capital of Palau; accessible by a fairly strenuous climb up an old Japanese military road. Site and tower open. ARLHS PAL-004.

Leuchtturm Koror ruins, August 2000
photo copyright Controlled Burn; used by permission

Malakal Pass
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 7.5 m (25 ft); white flash every 6 s. 7.5 m (25 ft) round concrete tower, mounted on a round pier. Lighthouse painted white. Arne Kuilman has a closeup photo, Catriona Finlayson has another photo, and Google has a satellite view. This small tower is frequently photographed. Located just inside the southern entrance to the strait between Koror and the neighboring island of Malakal. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS PAL-003; Admiralty M8408; NGA 111-10936.
* Angaur (Ngeaur)
Early 1930s (?). Inactive since 1941(?). There is a Japanese lighthouse on Angaur, southernmost island of the Palau archipelago. Tim Schimpf has a 2007 photo taken atop the lighthouse, Jason and Carrie Schlafmann's photo shows how the ruin is disappearing into the jungle, and Google has a satellite view. Angaur has a population of less than 200 and attracts few visitors. It was never a naval base, but during the Japanese administration phosphate was mined on the island and shipped from its harbor. The lighthouse was damaged but not destroyed after being shelled by the battleship Tennessee and cruiser Denver as U.S. forces took the island from Japan in September 1944. Located on a hill north of Ngaramasch, the principal settlement on the island. Accessible by a short hiking trail. Site and tower reported open, with a fine view. ARLHS PAL-001.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining page: East: Micronesia

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Posted August 28, 2005. Checked and revised September 9, 2014. Lighthouses: 4. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.