Micronesia is another name for “small islands”, although these tropical islands are small they are filled with an abundance of beauty and steeped in history. Micronesia is situated 5, 150km southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii. Micronesia encompasses over 4.8 million kilometres of the pacific and includes around 2000 islands. The huge amount of islands comes from a result of volcanic activity which happened millions of years ago, however because of this, we get to enjoy the beautiful islands that are overpowering in their beauty. Calm lagoons, astonishing cliff faces, tropical jungle and of course, everlasting sunshine.
The most well-known islands of the Micronesia area are; the Marianas, Pohnpei, Yap, Truk, the Marshall Islands, the republic of Palau, Guam and Kosrae. Although there are many varied islands in Micronesia, none of them conform to a synchronised culture and instead, visitors find that each island group have their own customs and traditions, including language, history and culture.
Micronesia is a self-governed territory, with a population of 160, 000. The largest and most populated of all the islands is Guam, and is generally the gateway to Micronesia. English is spoken in Micronesia as well as local languages which are indigenous to the area such as Paluan, Chuukese, Marshallese, and Yapese.
When you visit Micronesia you are experiencing a richly diverse culture and experiencing a way of life, with local markets, and local custom. However for the traveller looking for more of a luxurious trip there is no shortage of upmarket resorts and lavish accommodation. Areas of Guam and Saipan are best for this.
Palau is the most well-known and picturesque islands of Micronesia and is home to the Rock Islands. These limestone rocks topped with lush greenery have bases that have been eroded due to the tides and the result is formations rising out of the sea looking like mushroom shaped floating islands.
Palau is home to some of the most interesting and unique marine life, this is due to the convergence of three oceanic currents. Not only will you find marine life breathtaking but the fauna on the island is remarkable as well with birds of all varieties flocking to Palau for the diverse species of trees, including banyan, coconut palm, pandanus and ironwood.
Divers flock to the tropical, warm waters of Palau, not only for the temperature and clarity but for the diving where you can scale dramatic cliffs, drop offs and walls as well as coral reefs that are beyond beautiful. There are copious amounts of fish and coral with around 1300 species of fish and 700 species of coral.
Known as having one of the largest collections of WWII shipwrecks as well as a large variety of pelagic animals, Palau caters to diving of every skill and certification. If you like drift diving, then Palau is the place to be, the currents that form along the walls, coral gardens, plateaus will ensure a pleasant drift dive, with the boat ready to pick you up at the end.
Some of the more popular dive sites:
The Ngemelis Drop-Off: This drop off is considered to be one of the most spectacular in the world. You start the dive in knee deep water and once you reach the drop off you end up in a world of brilliantly coloured sponges, soft and hard corals, nine foot long multi coloured sea fans and giant coral trees.
Blue Corner: This dive can almost guarantee you will see turtles, sharks, schools of barracuda, and brilliantly coloured tropical fish. The reason for this large variety of marine life is the strong tidal currents that permeate throughout the dive site. This dive site is generally not for beginner divers.
Blue Holes: An interesting dive which is located on the northern side of Ngemelis Island. It is cavern diving which has four giant holes on the top which allows light to filter through the cavern creating a beautiful dive and great photo opportunity. The maximum depth of the cavern dive is 30 metres.
Big Drop Off: This is a steep wall which is covered in hard and soft coral varieties and houses a generous population of reef fish. This dive site is great for scuba diving however due to the relatively shallow depth of 2 metres down to 17, this site is also ideal for snorkelling.
German Channel: Interesting dive from a historical point of view, the germans blasted this lagoon which connects the lagoon with the outer reef in the early 1900s. This was due to the need to transport the phosphates they had excavated from the island of Angaur to the port of Koror. You may see the elusive manta ray which comes to feed on the plankton which is brought in by the strong currents.
Popular WWII wreck divesOn the 31st of March, 1994, the American navy air raided the Palau archipelago in an operation named DECRATE I. During this operation more than 60 ships were sunk and they all lie at the bottom of the oceans waiting for you to explore them, some of the recommended sites are...
Helmet Wreck: This dive has a depth of 10-31 metres, it was a small supply ship and well worth checking out.
Buoy #6 Wrec: This dive has a depth of 26 metres and is a patrol boat which attracts interesting marine life which is best viewed as a night dive.
'Jake' Japanese Navy Seaplane: The depth of the ‘Jake’ is 13 metres, it is still intact and relics of old radios, helmets etc. can still be found.
USS Perry: The depth of this US shipwreck is 82 metres. This ship was sunk after hitting a mine on September 14, 1944, lots of marine life and abundant species of coral.
Chuyu Maru: The depth of the Chuyu Maru dive is between 23-35m, on this dive you can explore an old freighter which is still mostly intact. There are relics to be looked at such as stern guns, old bullets, and the old engine room.
Ir: The depth of this dive is between 23 metres to 35 metres, this was an old fleet oiler, which has been lying at the bottom of the ocean slowly becoming encrusted with stunning coral.
Amatzu Maru: The Amatzu Maru is one of the largest wreck dives in Micronesia, the depth is between 14 metres to 30 metres. This wreck is of a tanker used in the second world war and is home to a lot of black coral bushes.
With so many things to do it is important not to get too overwhelmed with the variety of activities. There are over 350 islands and there is no shortage of things to do. Any of the hotels or resorts would be happy to help you with any of your activity needs, such as kayaking or canoeing through the network of mangroves, lagoons, beaches, caverns and saltwater lakes. There is a service that takes you to the sites so you can find the best spots in order to look at reef fish, go bird watching, or take the time to paddle through the magical hidden spots of Palau.
Why not take a visit to the Palauan villages where the ceremonial customs of the island take place. Explore caves which are encrusted with stalagmites and stalactites, or simply lie back on the beach and read a book. There is no shortage of things to see and do on this extraordinary island.
Entry & Visa Requirements (subject to change)
IF your stay in Guam is less than 15 days, your stay in FSM less than 30 days and Palau less than 90 days then Australian passport holders do not need to obtain a visa. US immigration recommends you log onto ESTA the immigration website and complete an online application form (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov).
Medical & Health Requirements
There are no serious health risks in Micronesia, however we do recommend to keep your skin protected, and beware of medication that could make you extra sun sensitive. Also, there are recompression chambers in Guam, Palau, Chuuk, Yap and Pohnpei.
Guam and Micronesia operate on the US dollar. Most international credit cards are accepted throughout Micronesia.
Guam and Palau allow 200 cigarettes and 1.136 litres of alcohol. The allowance in FSM is 600 cigarettes and 2 litres of alcohol. However do remember that if you are in transit in Guam you are not permitted to carry duty free items to the outer islands.
Average temperatures in Micronesia reach 27 degrees with the lowest amount of rain occurring between January to March.
Swimwear is discouraged around the public areas of the hotel. Light cotton clothing is best for these tropical temperatures, and is best to prevent mosquito bites, and sun damage.
Same plug as the USA 110-120 volts Plug A and B
Australian dollar travellers cheques are strongly advised again as it can be difficult cashing them in. The opening hours of most banks are 8am to 12 pm and then an hours break for siesta and 1pm to 5pm weekdays, and closed on weekends.
Micronesia is predominantly English speaking due to the US influence, however there are indigenous people who speak a native language and the older population of the island are more than likely fluent in Japanese.
The dominant religion is Roman Catholic however there are traditional ceremonies and customs depending on what island you go to.
It is advised to always drink bottled water; however it is fairly safe to drink the water provided to you by major hotels and resorts. We recommend drinking as much water as possible to avoid dehydration.
In following the US custom, tipping is apart of the Micronesian culture especially in hospitality where tipping in restaurants, hotels and the baggage porter is considered the norm. However in FSM tipping is discouraged and not expected.
Micronesia is a haven for divers therefore many of the tourists in this part of the world are here to snorkel or scuba dive. The flora and fauna of Micronesia make this destination of the worlds leading. The temperature of the water averages around 29 degrees, so a 3mm suit is recommended. In Chuuk, you will need to purchase a diving permit which costs USD30, Palau charges a small fee to help their conservation program and Koror state, Rock island and jellyfish lake permit is valid for 10 days and costs 30 dollars. One of the many dive operators will supply you with tanks, and weight belts however if extra equipment is needed, you will expect to pay a fee.
This varies depending on what island you are on. In Chuuk it is USD20, Palau is USD35, and Kosrae and Pohnpei is USD17. No departure tax is required for Guam and Yap.
Please note: No trips are currently scheduled.