[y] Micronesia Visitors Guide
Micronesia means ‘small islands’ and is derived from the Greek words mikros – which means small – and nesos – which means island. This is a perfect way to describe these over two thousand tropical islands scattered across the heart of the Pacific Ocean between Hawai’i and the Philippines. They are spread over a great distance, yet each has its own culture, history, customs, rituals, myths and legends, lifestyle and topographical personality. Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Yap are four island states of more than 600 tiny islands and atolls, stretching almost the entire width of Micronesia, 1,800 miles across the Pacific from east to west. Known as the Federated States of Micronesia, each speaks its own language with its own distinctive culture, traditions, and history.
None of the bright lights of Guam and Saipan are to be found here. A more traditional island lifestyle prevails, surrounded by the spectacular beauty of the islands and their seas. An integral part of Continental Micronesia’s ‘Island Hopper’ route across Micronesia, the Federated States of Micronesia attracts the more adventurous traveler, such as experienced sports divers, underwater photographers, hikers, and backpackers.
Both Kosrae and Pohnpei are situated far to the east of the group and share a similar climate and geography. They are high volcanic islands with cloud-shrouded peaks, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and hidden mountain pools. They share the same pristine, fringing coral reefs, clear azure seas, mangroves, and sandy beaches. The Lelu ruins reached its peak in the 12th century. Nan Madol, however, began construction as early as 500 AD and was toppled by the present-day traditional government in the 1520s.
Chuuk is renowned for its dramatic wreck diving, which is recognized as the best of its kind in the world. Its vast lagoon, more than 30 miles across, was Japan’s ‘Pearl Harbour’ and more than 100 ships and aircraft were sunk while sheltering here during World War II. The warm, tropical water, prolific marine life and ocean currents have transformed these wrecks into breathtakingly beautiful coral gardens and artificial reefs, home to hundreds of marine animals and fish.
Yap has managed to let most of the modern world pass it by and practices Micronesia’s most traditional lifestyle. Some 200 miles from Palau, Yapese warriors sailed there in centuries past, despite great danger and hardship, to quarry the giant Yapese stone money. These large circular stones, carved symmetrically and holed in the center for transportation, can be greater in diameter than a man’s height. Most of the stone money is stored in a canal known in the money bank, though some still rest outside the thatched men’s hut and family huts to denote wealth and status. The Yapese, proud owners of the largest currency in the world, continue to delight in sharing their paradise with visitors. Yap is most famous for its Manta Ray viewing, but the diving doesn’t stop there – there is no shortage of beautiful reef formations and marine life in these waters.
True to its name, Micronesia is made up of small islands – yet it covers no small area. This last and beautiful island world, part of which belonged to Spain in the days of her glory (see map below). But Spain lost her interest in her Pacific empire and to relieve her financial difficulties following the Spanish-American War, she sold her Micronesian islands to Germany in 1899 for about $4,500,000. The first guns of the first World War had hardly been fired in Europe when Japanese warships sailed south and occupied this part of Micronesia. At the Peace Conference in 1919, the islands were entrusted to Japan as a mandate from the League of Nations.
Visitors to the elaborate massive stone structures of Nan Madol on the island of Ponape (Pohnpei). The mighty building blocks which composed the structure make the English castles seem delicate and lady-like in comparison. The quarries where these mammoth hexagons and octagons were obtained are fifteen or more miles away.
To transport the stones must have required craft very different from the present native canoe, and to raise them to their positions must have been a herculean task, even with the aid of inclined plane and unlimited manpower.
Indeed, Nan Madol was no isolated fort, nor even a walled village. It was a city, made up of about 50 fortified islets extending over eleven square miles – most of it now hidden by the advancing jungle. It seems clear that this city was built up out of the lagoon, and is not a land city that has sunk. It was constructed by a race of superior civilization apparently very different from our present Micronesian people who live in thatched huts and make no use of the mammoth basaltic prisms in any of their buildings.
According to tradition, a dynasty of kings by the name of Chau-te-Leur reigned in the city, but was finally overthrown by a savage invader, Idzikolkol, who stamped out the old civilization, abandoned the island metropolis, and established his brown race in the jungles of Ponape (Pohnpei), there to remain practically unchanged to this day.
Nan Madol is one of the most intriguing mysteries of Micronesia.
Marshall Islands Travel Guide
The Marshall Islands is Micronesia’s atoll diving destination. Made up of 29 coral atolls, diving in the Marshalls can be done either within the lagoons or in the open ocean. Dive sites include lagoon pinnacles, walls, channels, reel points and vast areas of the virgin unexplored reef. The Marshalls are also home to an abundance of WW2 ship and plane wrecks, concentrated in the lagoons of Bikini, Kwajalein, Jaluit, Wotje, Maloelap and Majuro Atolls. Dive excursions to seldom-visited outer atolls can easily be arranged with local operators and shark sightings are guaranteed!
The newest and most modern hotel in Majuro, the Royal Garden Hotel, features 24 rooms and warmly welcomes holidaymakers and business travelers. Each room is carpeted and air-conditioned and in-room amenities include telephone, color TV, refrigerator, hot and cold water, and a private bath. The hotel has a twenty-four-hour reception. There are laundry facilities, hire cars are easily arranged and, for business communications, guests have access to the fax machine.
The Royal Garden Hotel’s cozy bar and restaurant with ocean views is just the place to relax and is especially popular during happy hour ( 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) The restaurant serves excellent breakfasts, lunches and dinners and the staff are experts at looking after guests’ needs.
Palau Pacific Travel Guide
Palau Pacific Resort sits on its own white sandy private beach and is located just ten minutes from the capital of Koror and 25 minutes from the international airport. Set in 64 acres of lush tropical vegetation, Palau Pacific Resort has 160 deluxe guest rooms, including eight suites. This lavish resort is aesthetically divided into 14 adjacent, two-story tree top clusters. Each room is air-conditioned and has all the modern amenities you would expect of an international resort.
Palau Pacific Resort is a Mecca for recreation and relaxation. The resort offers excellent snorkeling right off its private beach with an array of colorful tropical fish, corals, and giant clams! And other than 1,000 feet of beach, there is a freshwater swimming pool, beach volleyball, sailing, and other water activities, as well as two lighted tennis courts, and a nature trail. There is also an Activity Centre with modern exercise equipment and two outdoor Jacuzzi tubs. Be as active or as relaxed as you choose.
The Coconut Terrace serves buffet breakfast, a la carte lunch and themed buffet dinners with various live entertainment every night. For air-conditioned comfort during mealtimes, guests may enjoy cocktails at the Akoi Koi Bar and Lounge before taking their places in the Meduu Rebtal Restaurant that features a creative Euro-Asian cuisine supplemented by island specialties. Naturally, the resort also has an idyllic poolside bar, the Mesekiu Waterhole, set close to the beach. A great way to watch the sunset together!
Located at the Palau Pacific Resort, Splash is a PADI 5 Star Dive Centre offering world-class diver-friendly services and facilities combined with strict safety standards. Splash has a modern dive shop and training center and a 42’ jet drive custom made dive boat. The facility incorporates fresh water rinse tanks, showers, dive gear storage, and a Bauer compressor. In addition, diving equipment and accessories such as B.C.D., regulator, west nut, fins, masks, and snorkels are available for rent at reasonable prices.
For the photo enthusiast, Splash is augmented by Photo Palau, a professional underwater photo and video center. Various services include underwater video and cameras for rent, E-6 film processing, personalized video and photo guided dives. Other photo and video camera accessories and logo souvenir items are available for sale.
Palau offers an unforgettable dive experience. You will visit marine life areas where there are turtles, giant clams, manta rays, barracudas and sharks, as well as 1,500 different types of fish and 400 varieties of coral. Water temperature remains a comfortable 27 degrees C (82 degrees F) year-round.
A popular addition to Splash’s offerings is a daily-guided tour by sea kayak. These low impact tours allow intimate access to Palau’s natural treasures as you glide through the Rock Islands on a sit-on-the-top kayak. You will paddle through crystal clear water over shallow reefs and through mangroves where you will observe native wildlife, birds, and sea life, including some rare species. Highlights include ancient caves, airplane and shipwrecks, tranquil marine lakes, volcanic island formations, and ruins from the WW2 Japanese occupation.
West Plaza Hotels
Whether you require a downtown location with kitchen facilities or a resort-style setting with a private balcony overlooking the ocean, West Plaza Hotel provides comfortable and affordable rooms for visitors to Koror. West Plaza Hotel By The Sea has an absolute water frontage offering spectacular views over the placid lagoon and nearby islands, and yet is only a kilometer from the central business district and main shopping center of downtown Koror.
All 35t guest rooms are fully air-conditioned, comfortably furnished, and feature cable TV, refrigerator, IDD telephone, mini bar, and beautiful ocean views. Guests can enjoy superb dining at the Hotel’s stylish Sea Horse Restaurant that has a wonderful reputation for tantalizing international, Chinese, Japanese and island cuisine. The coffee shop is very popular for snacks and slight beverages, while the bar is the perfect place to meet for an afternoon cocktail or dinner aperitif. There is a gift shop, fax, laundry service, and complimentary airport shuttle. For anything from car rental to information on the best places for sightseeing, you will find the concierge staff friendly, courteous, and eager to be of service.
West Plaza Coral Reef sits on a tranquil lagoon and features 14 spacious rooms with private balconies where guests can greet magnificent sunsets and inspirational moonrises. All rooms are air-conditioned and offer two double beds, private bathrooms with separate tubs and shower, telephone, cable TV, mini bar and laundry service.
The new West Plaza Malakal, opened in February 1998, offers 27 rooms just minutes from downtown Koror and within easy walking distances of dive centers. Two other properties are located downtown. West Plaza Desekel offers 30 rooms next to the banking and educational areas and West Plaza Downtown, in the center of Koror, has 22 rooms just minutes away from restaurants and shops.
All five West Plaza properties are convenient to major places of interest and your hotel will provide assistance with a rental car and a tour reservation. You are within walking distance from shopping areas of all descriptions from markets to Department stores, and you can drop your camera film at the front desk in the morning or same-day developing. In addition, a variety of specific rim cuisines, ranging from Asian flavors to local fresh seafood, along with US traditions like hamburgers and pizza are just minutes away.
West Plaza Hotels provide truly affordable and comfortable destinations for both holidaymakers and business people visiting the cosmopolitan capital of Palau.