FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA
The Federated States of Micronesia are located in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Indonesia. They form an archipelago of 607 islands which stretch for 1,800km east from the Philippines.
This island nation is made up of four island states which are, from west to east, Yap, Chuuk (Truk), Pohnpei (Ponape) and Kosrae.
The western islands of Yap and Chuuk are coral atolls and low islands with rolling hills, surrounded by coral reef and azul blue lagoons.
The eastern islands of Kosrae and Pohnpei are high volcanic islands (some still active) covered by verdant rainforests with waterfalls and hidden mountain pools. They are surrounded by fringing coral reefs.
The islanders of the Federated States Of Micronesia live traditional lives with agriculture and fishing still important to the economy. They even use stone money!
With little variance from warm and humid throughout the year, the temperature becomes warmer and even more humid the closer an individual island is located to the equator. The heat is tempered somewhat by the sea breezes and is rarely unpleasant.
The northern islands have a dry season followed by a season with heavy rainfall. This rainy season is from June to December. Closer to the equator the rainfall tends to occur daily, normally late afternoon, with heavy downpours followed by blue skies and sunshine.
Pohnpei, the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia, has a high annual rainfall with rain two days out of three and a monthly rainfall of up to 18 inches of water.
How to get there
There are five international airports in the Federated States of Micronesia - two in Yap and one in each of the other states.
Continental Airlines serve this area as does Air Nauru. There are flights from Honolulu, Manila and Guam and also twice weekly flights from Taipei.
For those intending to hop around the islands purchasing air travel passes can be a cheaper option.
The states of Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap and Kosrae are linked by air, and there are small airstrips on many of the other islands in the Federated States of Micronesia. The cheapest way to get from island to island within an individual state is by boat. Outer islands are serviced by cargo boats which do take passengers, but journeys can be very long (several days) and uncomfortable.
Where to stay
Accommodation in the Micronesian states is moderately priced. They range in quality from beautiful resorts offering hotel rooms or private thatched bungalows to adequate hotels and apartments. Most of the rooms available have sea and lagoon views.
Many of the resorts and hotels have their own restaurants serving a wide range of international cuisine.
The Village Hotel in Pohnpei won the OPIC's inaugural 1991 Ecotourism Award. It features spacious huts with wall-to-ceiling windows covered with screen, not glass.
What to see
The Federated States of Micronesia attracts the more adventurous traveller especially divers, underwater photographers, hikers and backpackers.
One of the things that all the islands have in common is that the diving is excellent. The constant water temperature and excellent visiblity allow divers to explore the reefs which are alive with colourful coral, tropical fish and schools of dolphins.
The Giant Manta Rays
which appear in Yap at certain points of the year can have a wing span of up to 22 feet. And in
Kosrae the reef plays host to mating turtles in December.
Some wrecks from WWII lie just off the shores of Kosrae and these too can be explored by divers and scuba divers alike.
Around the islands of Chuuk there are many wrecks that lie on the sea bed. An entire Japanese fleet was lost here in 1944 - the largest naval loss in history. Many of the ships are practically intact with planes and trucks still sitting on decks. The entire lagoon is protected and the many artefacts must be left in situ.
Yap is the most traditional of all the states and village chiefs still reign. The native dress is a loin cloth for men and grass skirts for women. The traditional dances performed here will be more for celebration than for the tourist.
The ancient Yap people used stone currency and travelled many miles to quarry it from the island of Palau. These pieces of money are circular with a hole in the centre and can be very large and heavy. Although the currency now is the US dollar, this stone money is still used as legal tender within the islands and is often displayed outside native homes to show the wealth and status of the occupant.
Pohnpei is the largest state and home to the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia, Kolonia. To the south east of the island is Nan Madol, an ancient stone city
built on a series of artificial islands and linked by a network of canals.
In 1874, the boat of pirate William Hayes sank in Utwe harbour, Kosrae. He is said to have buried his treasure somewhere on the island so you never know . . .
To the east of Kosrae and connected by a causeway, is the island of Lelu
where a massive walled city was built between the 13th and 14th centuries for Kosraean royalty. You can trek here through fairly thick vegetation to explore the ruins which include burial mounds and dwellings.
Wallis and Futuna
The Federated States of Micronesia
Northern Mariana Islands
Torres Strait Islands
Diving and Snorkelling in Guam And Yap
Lonely Planet Guide
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Dubbed the "Hard Coral Capitals" of Micronesia, the islands of Guam, Rota, and Yap offer a unique mix of underwater environments and topside cultural diversity. From the clear blue waters of Guam's Blue Hole, to the grey reef sharks at Shark City on Yap, this book describes 62 of the best dive sites with full colour photographs.
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Micronesia (Moon Handbook)
The sixth edition of this travel guide is packed with the most current information on sightseeing options, diving and recreation, accommodations, and restaurants, as well as custom maps, colour photographs, fascinating sidebars, and a complete coverage of the area's culture, history, and social issues.
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