Micronesia is without a doubt near the top of most divers bucket list but at the same time, a country that very few people know anything about. I made the journey out there last month to see what it was all about. Indeed it is a serious journey since it is by no means a ‘well connected’ destination but I can say now that it was worth it and I would do the journey time twice, three times over just to get in those waters.
My first stop was Chuuk Lagoon, the site of Operation Hailstone in WWII and famous now for having the best wreck diving in the world. Having not done a huge amount of wreck diving before, and the wrecks I have done were nothing to write home about, I had little idea of what I was in for. I was staying on The Odyssey, one of only two liveaboards in the area, and really the best way to experience Chuuk Lagoon. It is hard to know how to put it into words but there is nothing quite like cruising along a 550 foot wreck, drenched in soft corals of every colour, picking your way through corridors and engine rooms that have been submerged for over half a century, Japanese books where you can still read the characters after 70 years underwater, and more harrowing the human skulls and bones reminding you just how devastating Operation Hailstone was. These wrecks are fascinating historically, marine biologically and how intact they are after so many years underwater. Without a doubt the most exciting and extraordinary diving of my life, if not the best.
Next stop was Yap, west of Chuuk, and famous as the manta ray capital of the world. For 10 months of the year you are guaranteed to see the mantas, so much so that Manta Ray Bay Resort (where I stayed) gives you your money back if you don’t see a manta! Head out to the cleaning stations and watch the mantas gliding back and forth above the reef, up to 4m wingspan and so graceful. You can see a dozen or so at a time and the resort is owned and run by the ‘manta man’ (as he is known by the Yapese) who has been a resident on the island for 32 years and who has an undying passion for the marine world – you are in the best hands to go in search of the mantas!
Although I didn’t make it there, Kosrae is meant to have fabulous diving as well with pristine, untouched corals. Hopefully I will make it there some day!
This really is an incredible dive destination with such variety: best wreck diving in the world, manta capital of world and untouched coral reefs.