World-class Snorkeling and Idyllic Island Settings
Micronesia has all the elements of a world-class snorkeling destination: warm, clear waters; calm conditions; plentiful and varied fish life; and rainbow-colored reefs that begin in shallow water—and in some cases rise right to the surface. As an added bonus, these scenic tropical destinations see relatively few visitors. There are no high rise hotels, tour buses or cruise ships, and therefore no crowds. Often, a small group of snorkelers will have a reef all to themselves and can spend hours drifting over coral formations, grass beds and even intact war wrecks. For all these reasons, Micronesia is known as one of the best snorkeling destinations on the planet.
- Best for: All travelers including divers, snorkelers, kayaking and exploring
- Best season to visit: Year round
- Weather: The tropical climate has very little seasonal variation, with air temperatures ranging between the low and high 80s from night to midday, and minimal variations in water temperatures. Dec - May are drier and rain is most common from July - Sept
Snorkeling in Micronesia Overview
The coral reef barriers that surround the islands of Micronesia provide a diverse range of snorkeling opportunities. Sheltered sites within lagoons provide relaxing settings to explore shallow coral formations. Those seeking a bit more excitement can ride the currents in tidal channels teeming with fish, rays and even sharks. Many lagoons include small, uninhabited islands and hidden coves.
Snorkeling in Micronesia Tips
There are a number of ways to explore Micronesia's snorkel sites. Some are within an easy swim of the beach, others will require a boat ride, and some of the most secluded can be visited only by kayak, as they lie within shallow bays reached by narrow channels. Tour operators can provide advice on conditions, logistics and other details to help determine which adventures are best suited to your tastes and abilities.
Best Places to Snorkel in Micronesia
In Palau's Jellyfish Lake, snorkelers are immersed in clouds of non-stinging freshwater jellyfish. Kosrae's Blue Hole is covered in intricate coral heads that create a haven for tropical fish. Drifts along German Channel carry snorkelers through schools of jacks, snappers and barracudas, with a chance to see manta rays. On Yap, snorkelers can swim with manta rays or drift with the currents through lagoon channels. Chuuk's Jeep Island combines an idyllic beach setting with colorful coral gardens.
What to Pack for Snorkeling in Micronesia
Ask before bringing the fins aboard, as operators request fins not be worn at certain sites where shallow corals might be damaged by errant kicks. At all other sites, plan on the usual mask, snorkel and fins, plus a waterproof shirt to protect exposed backs from the sun.
Palau Pacific Resort
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Manta Ray Bay Resort
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Palau Royal Resort
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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 the Pacific Ocean the size of the United States but have a combined landmass 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 longhouse. 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 the 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, Phone 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, traveler's 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 Chuukese 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, the size of roughly 460 square miles. Palau is part of the Micronesia region. The most populated islands are Koror, Angaur, Peleliu and Babeldaob, the capital. 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.