Diving in Palau, Yap & Truk
Micronesia is more water than land, with some 2,100 small islands spread over three million square miles of the Western Pacific. This region is home to some of the healthiest coral reefs and clearest waters in the world. It was also a hotbed of fighting in World War II, and the pitched battles between US and Japanese forces that took place around the islands of Palau and Chuuk now present divers with a wealth of wreck diving opportunities. Each destination in the region offers it's own mix of diving adventures. Palau is a collection of small islands grouped atop an uplifted limestone plateau at the biodiverse intersection of the Pacific Ocean and Philippine Sea. The surrounding reefs support more than 1,200 species of fish and some 800 types of corals and sponges. The currents that wash channels and exposed ridges such as Blue Corner and German Drop-off draw sharks, groupers, rays, turtles, tuna and Napoleon wrasse, providing divers with a thrilling show as they hang on reef hooks to hold stationary against the flow. The lagoon holds a number of war wrecks, plus shallow reefs where currents are never a problem. Palau is famous are the submerged chambers of Chandelier Cave, which is decorated with stalagmites from an era when sea levels were lower. Equally well known is Jellyfish Lake. where non-stinging jellyfish have evolved to live in a marine pond, providing snorkelers with a rare chance to immerse themselves in a gelatinous cloud of life. Palau is also home to the famous Rock Islands. Some 200 of these unique limestone formations are found in the shallows west of Koror. Centuries of tidal erosion and grazing sea creatures have worn away the bases of these structures to give them the appearance of giant mushrooms rising from the sea.
Yap is known worldwide as a destination where interactions with manta rays are almost guaranteed. Located below the Pacific's Typhoon Belt, this coral-ringed island is washed by plankton-rich upwellings that support a resident population of mantas. These graceful members of the shark family gather at cleaning stations. The sites where mantas are most prominent are the cleaning stations of Mi'il Channel, which is located on the northwestern side of Yap, and Goofnuw to the northeastern side. As many as 40 individual mantas have been counted at each of these sites, and encounters happen with year-round regularly. Yap is not a one-hit wonder, however, as more than 30 additional dive sites around the island offer walls, drift dives and frequent encounters with gray, black and white-tip reef sharks on fringing reefs. Other sites offer caverns and canyons covered in large gorgonian and fan corals, and patrolled by varieties of reef fish, eagle rays and schools of tuna and jacks.
Chuuk provides the Pacific's most extensive collection of war wrecks. More than 100 Japanese ships and aircraft lie on the bottom, the victims of concerted bombing raids by US forces. Encrusting corals now cover superstructures in a colorful living blanket in hues from pink and purple to yellow and red, while shadowed cargo holds are still filled with munitions, tanks, motorcycles and other war ordinance. Lagoon waters are warm and generally current-free. Many dive profiles fall within the 80 to 100 foot depth range, with superstructures on favorite wrecks such as the popular Fujikawa Maru rise to depths of less than 30 feet. Other wrecks reach the limits of recreational diving and beyond, allowing those with appropriate experience and training to perform penetration and staged decompression dives. Chuuk's most popular wrecks can be accessed by land-based operations, while several liveaboards also cruise the lagoon. Though wreck diving continues to take center stage at Chuuk, there are miles of rarely visited reefs, and operators offer trips to sites such as Shark Island, where gray reefs and other species gather at cleaning stations.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for entry which must be valid for 6 months beyond your date of entry. The passport should have one blank page for entry stamp. No visa is required for stays less than 30 days. Proof of onward or return ticket may be required. Palau has a $50 departure tax and Green Fee, Yap, Pohnpei and Truk have a $20 departure tax and Kosrae has a $15 departure tax, all of which are not included and must be paid in the destination.
Check Micronesia's entry and exit requirements here.
Thre are no vaccines required for entering Micronesia, but you should always check with your doctor the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel here.
Culture and Customs
The group of more than 2,100 islands known collectively as Micronesia cover an expanse of Pacific Ocean the size of the United States, but have a combined land mass less than the state of Rhode Island. The region's ethnicity and culture is a mixture of Melanesians, Polynesians, and Filipinos. Due to their historic isolation from each other and the wider world, each island group developed unique traditions and beliefs. Colonial influences and the advent of jet-age tourism have brought metropolitan centers into the 21st century, while more remote out islands still hold to many of the old ways. Yap in particular is a land where daily life is centered around villages where the local chiefs conduct community affairs from the men's long house. Positioned outside many of these houses are giant stone wheels that represent one of the island's most interesting traditions. While the US dollar is now the official currency of Yap, hand-carved circular stones of up to 12 feet in diameter are still used as local legal tender for the payment of dowry or the purchase of land. Fishing has long been an important staple of life on Palau and Chuuk. The traditions of craftsmanship once used to hand-build boats and weave palm-fiber clothing are also expressed in such as intricate wood carvings and decorative accessories fashioned from sea shells and ivory nuts. Reminders of the conflicts of World War II are found across the islands, with bunkers, gun placements and fortified caves now overgrown by the jungle, and every manner of discarded or lost war materiel from rifles to tanks lying hidden below the water.
Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access
Electricity in Palau, Truk & Yap is 110 Volts, 60 cycles. If you travel with a device that does not accept 110 Volts at 60 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter.
Micronesia has a modern reliable telecommunication system. WiFi is available at many hotels. It is recommended that you check with your cell phone provider to see what international plans are available for voice, data and texting.
It is recommended by the CDC to not drink the tap water in Micronesia. Bottled water or purified water if supplied by the resort are best.
Language & Currency
There are four indigenous languages in Yap: Yapese, Ulithian, Woleaian and Satawalese.
English is the official language of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)
and is commonly spoken and understood. Many elderly Yapese are fluent in Japanese.
The official currency in Yap is the US Dollar. Yap is famous for its Stone
Money which is still in use for traditional exchanges such as the purchase of
land or in village ceremonies.
There are two commercial banks in Yap, the Bank of the FSM and the Bank of
Hawaii. U.S. currency is used. Major credit cards are accepted by most hotels, travelers
checks are recommended for purchases at restaurants and for shopping.
The official language of Palau is English and Palauan.
Currency is the US Dollar (USD). There are banks in all the major tourist areas,
where credit cards are widely accepted, at visitor oriented businesses.
The official language of Truk is English, but Chuukeese is also spoken.
The official currency is the U.S. Dollar (USD). There is a branch of The Bank of FSM located in Truk, although the hotel will be able to accept your major credit cards.
Micronesia follows the American custom and tipping is an accepted practice
in restaurants, hotels, baggage handling.
The Federated States of Micronesia and Palau to not observe Daylight Savings Time. Yap and Truk/Chuuk are 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+10 GMT). Pohnpei and Kosrae are 11 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+11 GMT). Palau is 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+9 GMT).
Location, Size and Population
The Federated States of Micronesia which includes Yap, Truk, Kosrae and Pohnpei are located in the western pacific approximately 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, 450 miles southwest of Guam and 360 miles northeast of Palau. The Republic of Palau is an archipelago of over 500 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, size of roughly 460 square miles. Palau is part of the Micronesia region. The most populated islands are Koror, Angaur, Peleliu and Babeldaob, the capitol. About 2/3 of the population of Palau live on the island of Koror.
The population of Micronesia is 104,966 (2016), with 21,501 in Palau, 11,377 in Yap, and an estimated 53,000 in Truk.