Micronesia: remote paradise

Explore the Pacific: explore Micronesia!

The term Micronesia encompasses multiple island countries spread across the Pacific Ocean. One of those countries is the Federated States of Micronesia, which is comprised of four separate island states – Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap – all of which have different local languages (though English is the official language of the country).

One of the most exciting parts about the FSM is the relatively untouched natural beauty there.

The FSM escapes the notice of many tourists, due to its location (pricey plane tickets) and other development needs.

Be prepared to pay multiple fees for trekking across people’s land.

They aren’t trying to scam you; you’re just crossing the land of multiple different families. Also be sure to have exact change and rely on cash (US$), not plastic.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, the author has really gotten to know the culture there. Even though you are visitors and no one will say anything outright to you, please dress modestly; it’s the respectful thing to do. Micronesian women usually wear knee length, loose skirts (but shorts can be ok) and men can wear knee length shorts.

The author spent two years on the island of Pohnpei, and only about a week in the other states, which is why there is so much more focus on Pohnpei. From east to west, here are my Top Ten.

Kosrae

Tafunsak Gorge is a beautiful hike through the jungle of Kosrae. Be sure to obtain permission from the governor and hire a local guide (ask staff at your hotel to call for you). You will follow the water pipe up to the source; a beautiful, cold waterfall. It’s quite a hike, so bring good shoes!

Pohnpei

Ahnd Atoll is the paradise island of your dreams. It’s an hour boat ride from the main town of Kolonia and a bit pricey, but well worth it. The crystal clear waters and fine sand will make you forget everything else. Talk to staff at Mangrove Bay Hotel to organize your trip.

Nan Madol is where the Pohnpeians’ ancestors first built their city. These structures are made of enormous stone logs and, like Stonehenge, nobody really knows how they were moved. This ‘city’ is right on the ocean, so take a dip while you’re there.

Sakau is the Pohnpeian word for kava. Hit up a local market! Nobody really likes the taste, but keep a chaser at hand, and after a while you will feel the calming and relaxing effects of the sakau. Plus, the locals will love to have you join them!

Sokehs Rock is the giant rock you will see as you fly in. Climbing to the top is not for those scared of heights, but if you don’t mind a little danger, the view is spectacular. The path is not super clear in some areas, so don’t be afraid to hire a local guide.

Sokehs Ridge is the safer version of Sokehs Rock. Other than one very steep incline, the hike is easy, and you will have a beautiful view at the top. Not quite as amazing as the Rock, but an excellent alternative and/or addition.

6 waterfalls is a day-long adventure. You will hike down the mountain to an area where six waterfalls are all mostly close together. Be careful – it’s very slippery! This hike pretty intense, so do not bring young children. A local guide is necessary – If Kenji is still on island, he’s a great guide; just call Nett Ramen (a restaurant) and ask for him.

Nihco Marine Park in the municipality of Sokehs is a great picnic getaway! There are many nahs (local huts) for you to relax in, and the ocean is right at your doorstep – well, if there were any doors. Bring a hammock and your swimsuit!

Chuuk

Wreck diving is a treasure. Depending on your level of certification, you will be able to swim inside the wrecks and see things close-up.

Yap

Diving with manta rays is an experience you will never forget! These huge gentle giants will take your breath away (but luckily you will have a full tank of oxygen on your back).

Getting to all four states of the FSM is not cheap, but if you have the opportunity, you will be in for a real treat. Enjoy Micronesia!

Rachel Barnes

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