Lighthouses of Palau

The Republic of Palau (formerly spelled Belau or Pelew) is an island nation at the southeastern edge of the Philippine Sea, southwest of Guam and 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 United States as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. In 1979 Palau voted not to join the new Federated States of Micronesia. 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.

Palau includes at least 250 islands in arc extending northwest to southeast. Most of the population lives on the largest island Babeldaob and its near neighbor Koror. The population of the country is about 20,000.

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 Lightphotos.net.
Online List of Lights - Palau
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
Navionics Charts
Navigation chart for Palau.


Aivon Light ruins, Babeldaob, September 2019
Google Maps photo by Cory Robertson

Babeldaob Lighthouse
* Aivon (Babeldaob, Babelthuap, Babelthaup)
Date unknown. Inactive since 1941(?). Very little is known about this Japanese lighthouse, now lying in ruins. Cory Robertson's 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, and Google has a satellite view. 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. 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. 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 September 5, 2022. Lighthouses: 4. Site copyright 2022 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.