Lighthouses of Palau

Palau (formerly 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 colonized by Spain, although there was little European contact until the 1880s. 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.

General Sources
World of Lighthouses - Palau
Photos by various photographers available from
Online List of Lights - Palau
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.

Aivon Light ruins, Babeldaob, May 2011
Flickr Creative Commons photo by NekaPearl

Babeldaob Lighthouse
* Aivon (Babeldaob, Babelthuap, Babelthaup)
Date unknown. Inactive since 1941(?). Very little is known about this Japanese lighthouse, now lying in ruins. A photo is above, Etoshas Pfanne has a 2013 photo and a second photo, Satoshi Metaspect has a 2017 photo showing a surviving wall of the lighthouse, and Google has a satellite view of this area that shows the ruins. 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. The site is privately owned and a photo of the entrance shows that a fee is charged to visit the ruins. Located in Ngarchelong, on the extreme northern tip of Babeldaob (Babelthuap), the largest island of Palau. The island is connected to Koror by a bridge. Site open. Owner/site manager: private.

Koror Area Lighthouses
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, Trabas has Thomas Philipp's 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.
* Koror (Roisremiu, Urukthapel, Palau)
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, but jungle hides the ruins in Google's satellite view of the area. Obviously endangered. This lighthouse was built by Germany, which controlled Palau between 1899 and 1914. A historic photo from the early 1920s is available, and a 1991 postage stamp shows an idealized view of the lighthouse when it was in service. According to a 1941 U.S. Army map, the lighthouse showed a white flash every 3 s. 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 188 m (617 ft) atop Ngaremediu Head on Ngeruktabel (Urukthapel) 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.

Angaur Lighthouse
* Angaur (Ngeaur)
Early 1930s (?). Inactive since 1941(?). There is a Japanese lighthouse on Angaur, southernmost island of the Palau archipelago. Jason and Carrie Schlafmann's photo shows how the ruin is disappearing into the jungle, a 1984 topographic map locates the lighthouse, and Google has a satellite view. Obviously endangered. Angaur has a population of less than 150 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.

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

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining page: East: Micronesia

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Posted August 28, 2005. Checked and revised February 15, 2019. Lighthouses: 4. Site copyright 2019 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.