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Palau, Air/Hotel, $1,777

A rare package for spending a week in the faraway diving paradise of Palau, Micronesia, where the many coral reefs and caves are full of rainbow-hued marine life.

The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, seven nights' accommodations, and transfers from $1,777 per person — plus taxes of about $75.

When: Sept. 16-Dec. 14, 2007.

Gateways: L.A.; add $400 for Boston, Cleveland, Houston, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

The fine print: Hotel taxes, service charges, and airport-hotel transfers are included. The lowest price applies to midweek departures on a Continental Airlines carrier; add $119 per person for weekend travel. Taxes are an additional 4-5 percent. Based on double occupancy. Single supplement is $270. Bookings can be made over the phone only; use dialing prompts 1, 2, 9, and 1. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability.

Contact: Continental Airlines Vacations, 800/829-7777,

Why it's a deal: In comparison, a recent search on Sidestep yielded the following lowest round-trip fares between Los Angeles and Koror, Palau: $1,761 in late September (multiple carriers), $2,002 in early October (Continental Airlines), and $1,713 in mid-November (multiple carriers). For about the same price — or less — Continental Airlines Vacations will cover seven nights' accommodations on top of the round-trip flight.

Trip details: The Palau archipelago, the westernmost of the six island clusters that make up the Carolina Islands, is situated between Guam, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. Like many of the places featured in our 2007 Scouting Report feature, Palau is off the beaten path and worth any extra effort! It has a tough-to-beat array of coral gardens, plunging walls, and World War II-era wrecks, plus 1,500 species of fish, ranging from barracudas and reef sharks to butterfly fish, snappers, and cuttlefish. In fact, Palau's Rock Islands — 250 to 300 foliage-covered limestone formations — are rated among the seven underwater wonders of the world by marine experts.

The package includes round-trip airfare to Koror and bus transportation from the airport to your hotel. You'll check in for a seven-night stay in one of the 36 ocean-view rooms at the West Plaza by the Sea Hotel. While no meals are included in the package price, the hotel's Red Rooster Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Palau is well-suited not just to diving, but also to scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, fishing, and just about any other way you can think to enjoy the water. It's worth spending time on land, too, and exploring the islands' forests, caves, waterfalls, and World War II-era historic sites.

There's plenty of sunshine in Palau year-round, with an average temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll see the highest rainfall between July and October (luckily, typhoons are rare).

For more tips on what to do in the area, visit the Palau Visitors Authority Web site. And before you go, check the weather forecast, the exchange rate, and the local time at

This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.