January 12th to 27th, 2014 Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon and Yap, Federal States of Micronesia
Excerpted From and Copy write© by FSM Visitors Board - Map from CIA World Fact Book
Truk-Chuuk: The many islands within this huge atoll are crowned with natural beauty. The outer barrier reef is punctuated with idyllic sand spits dotted with coconut palms. The high islands in the central lagoon rise into the blue island skies.
Lush vegetation and simple living punctuate the lives of the lagoon. Fishing, weaving and tending garden supplant the subsistence lives that many sustain on their individual islands. It is not unusual to see women waist deep in the mangroves hunting for a special delicacy or men walking the reefs by torchlight at night looking for baby octopus. Boat makers create vessels high in the hills of the inner islands and take them down to sea when finished. Open hearth fires are still used to cook the daily meals. Life here is close to nature and lived in conjunction with the land and the sea. Local carvers are also famous for using beautiful local woods to carve warrior masks and busts. And the Chuukese love stick is part of a legendary practice of courtship unique to this island group.
Chuuk, with its vast, shallow, beautiful lagoon is a Mecca for wreck divers. A major shipwreck site from WWII, Truk Lagoon is unquestionably the world's best shipwreck diving destination. Here, more than 50 hulks have been transformed into ship reefs, holding the very best of the undersea world and maritime history at one site. Hard and soft corals in a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes attract divers worldwide for both daytime and night diving. The vast selection of artifacts still found on the wrecks after five decades are testament to the unique history of the Micronesian Islands. The historical aspect of Truk Lagoon is not totally hidden by the jungles. Japanese lighthouses, perched high atop the lagoon's finest overlooks, can be reached by hiking or driving. Old runways, command centers, gun emplacements, cave
In Chuuk, the pace of life slows and tropical nature is easily observed and appreciated. Many of the islands offer lush vegetation that harbors rare and migratory bird life. Enthusiasts have been known to camp high in the hills to observe these special avians. Wild orchids and other flora are found in the scenic and sometimes rugged terrain of the islands. Traveling by ocean kayak from island to island is one way to enjoy Chuuk. Often overlooked are the outer reefs where a great variety of fish, both pelagic and reef dwelling, venture near cascading coral walls that stretch into the blue abyss of the Pacific Ocean. Windsurfing and sailing in the lagoon passes is also done during trade wind season.
Yap: Yap is the most intriguing island in Micronesia. It is a land steeped in ancient traditions, fascinating legends, and peopled by one of the most distinctive cultures in the Pacific. Attractions like a handmade seaside men's house, cultural village tours, huge, ancient stone money discs and stone money banks, dancing, handicraft making, marine life and mangrove forests highlight a visit to this unique outpost.
Dance is an art form in Yap. Through dance, legends are passed down, history is recorded and entertainment is created. The dances of Yap are raucous, colorful and well- orchestrated. Men and women both start at an early age to learn this special Yap tradition. This traditional life carries into the villages where fishing, sailing and weaving are still important parts of everyday life. Grass skirts for the women and thu'us, a type of loincloth, for the men are the basic garb in the small towns that sit in tranquil settings around the island.
Yap has a number of small hotels, including the finest dedicated dive resort in Micronesia, that cater to divers, sightseers and those wanting a closer look at the culture. The island's rolling green hills and lush mangroves make Yap a true tropical Eden. These can be seen every day while heading out to explore the sea. Or an ocean kayak tour can be arranged to allow the visitor to look at these wandering passageways in a very special way.
The people of Yap are shy but warm. They don't mind visitors who are respectful and appreciative of their lifestyle. With a little coaxing, the visitor may soon find his or herself helping with a chore, like launching a canoe or weaving a basket to carry coconuts. This special kind of island encounter is not unusual on Yap and is part of the Yapese spirit that makes the island so enticing and enchanting.
For the active person, there's plenty to do on land and in the ocean. The visitor can expect to go mountain biking, hike on an ancient stone path or try some deep sea fishing as part of the Yap experience. Or, just take a nap under a coconut tree on one of Yap's unspoiled beaches.
Yap is famous for its
clear waters where schools of tuna, dolphins and reef fish are found in
abundance. Observing the greatly varied marine life on the reefs and in the
channels has become a must for divers around the world. While clear waters and
sheer drop-offs certainly describe Yap's
diving, one fact stands above the rest. Yap is the world's foremost
destination for seeing manta rays up close and personal. There is no other place
on earth where they can be seen on such a consistent basis year 'round. This
fact has catapulted Yap to the top on all lists of the finest diving attractions
in the world.
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