"Keep your eyes peeled," our guide, Jayden Twelbang, warns. "Crocodiles like to hang out along these shallow shorelines."
"He's kidding, right?" I ask my husband who, after hearing this tid-bit of information, quickens up his paddle pace.
We're kayaking the raved Rock Islands, Palau's crowning jewels that scatter over the western corner of Micronesia.
Like a strand of emerald gems, they offer us treasures of many kinds: vibrant coral reefs, jellyfish-filled lakes, cascading waterfalls and yes, a few crawling crocs.
On our previous day, we'd seen proof. It was something I'd half expected on the jungle tour, and from inside our cruiser, where there was distance between my photographing fingers and his gaping jaws, I felt quite safe.
But here, while kayaking the sliver-thin channel beneath a mossy canopy of mangroves, we'd be pretty much at eye level.
Our enshrouded tunnel eventually (and thankfully) opens into a tranquil lagoon that's so brilliantly blue, it's blinding. But it's not just the water that gets my attention -it's what thrives above and beneath.
Breaking the ethereal silence is an ongoing symphony of bird song. Flocks of all types flit in and out of the lush rainforest, skitter over the glistening surface and dive for fishy prey. Noddies, Flycatchers, Fruit Doves -the Hitchcock-loving list includes a hundred and forty-nine species, of which twelve are endemic.
Digital cameras get more action than our paddles and from the top of my Precision kayak I enjoy a front row seat.
Joining these aerial acts are top-notch performers that swim below. Nerf sharks, water snakes and rabbit fish, unite here with all types of rays: Sting, Moon and Eagle Rays glide beneath my shallow hull and hunt the ocean floor for tasty treats.
I just hope I'm not on the menu. "Fear not," Twelbang reassures. "That's just their way of welcoming you."
Palau hospitality clearly comes in many forms.
This past vacationing week we've been embraced by the intriguing culture, enlightened by its war-rich history and treated to five star pleasures. The Palau Pacific Resort has provided us with all the perks: a chic suite, delectable dining, a rainforest spa. Beyond its infinity pool and chalk-white beachfront is this incredible underwater world just waiting to be explored. And Sam's Tours has offered us lots of ways to do this.
As well as this Planet Blue Kayak experience, they host sailing charters, boat excursions, snorkeling trips, and scuba. Whether it's just one plunge or a seven day live-aboard experience, every dive site in Palau's ninety mile-long aquatic playground is guaranteed to be riveting.
"Because Palau is linked to three major ocean currents, it's one of the richest eco-biospheres," Twelbang says proudly. "We have 1,400 species of fish, 500 types of coral, 30 varieties of whales and dolphins and the planet's finest display of sharks." He knows these incredible stats like the back of his hand.
But he doesn't mention the 'C' word?
IF YOU GO: Getting there: Continental Airlines makes regular flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Koror (ROR). http: //www.continental.com
Where to stay: Palau Pacific Resort http: //www. palauppr.com/