Pacific Vacation 2004



Micronesia is a collection of islands in the western Pacific Ocean divided up into a few nations, including the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM; here's a map) and Palau (map), among others. This region was occupied by the Japanese prior to World War II, and became American territories or "protectorates" after the war. Over the past couple of decades they have transitioned into independent nations (except for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, which chose to remain a US territory).



During my vacation, from mid-July to mid-August 2004, I visited four islands, three in the FSM plus Palau. I spent about a week on each island, and spent as much time as possible scuba diving. At both ends of the trip I stayed overnight in Honolulu, to break up the long flights: It takes about 12 hours to get to Hawaii, and about 8 hours from there to Guam.

Pretty much the only way to get to some of these places is to fly Continental Airlines, and the cheapest way to do that is to use their "Circle Micronesia" special fare (which you won't find mentioned anywhere on their web site). This fare allows you to hop across several islands for one fixed price. There are something like five flights per week, starting at Honolulu and stopping at Kwajalein and Majuro (Marshall Islands) before heading in to the FSM. Once you get to Guam you can catch a connecting flight to head north to the Marianas or south to Yap and Palau.



In preparation for this trip I bought a lot of new gear. Here is a run-down of the major items.


Scuba Gear

My regulator was an AquaLung Legend.

My dive computer was an Oceanic Pro Plus 2.

My BC was a SeaQuest Pro Unlimited.


Camera Gear

I bought a digital camera shortly before this trip. It worked out rather well, considering the entire package, including underwater housing and memory cards, was under $500.



Federated States of Micronesia



My first vacation point was the island of Kosrae (pronounced koesh-rye) (map), the easternmost island (and state) in the Federated States of Micronesia. I spent five nights there, at the Kosrae Village Resort. I did a total of seven dives, over three days, with the Village Resort's dive operation. The day with three dives included a night dive, my first ever.
This is a view of the island as seen from the dive boat. The dives were all at about this distance from the shore, because that's where the coral reef wall is.
Here is a photo of the bungalow where I stayed. See all the leaves on the ground? There are about as many crab burrows as leaves, if not more. And the crabs are as big as those leaves, too. But they mostly just scuttle out of the way.
This is what the beach at KVR looked like. It was very nice, and just a few steps away from the bungalow. I went snorkeling there briefly, but it's too shallow at low tide, and at high tide the swells make it a bit problematic. A stronger swimmer could make it out over the reef, though.
Here are the underwater photos from Kosrae.


My second stop was Pohnpei (formerly "Ponape") (map), where I stayed for a week and did eight dives. Some people stay in town, but the nicest place to stay is The Village Hotel. The Village runs its own dive operation, as well as other tours, which made planning activities easy.
This is a view of the ocean as seen from the restaurant at the Village Hotel.
In the distance is Sokehs Rock, a major landmark, and intriguing hike. Or so I'm told—Pohnpei was too hot and humid for hiking, to my way of thinking. This image was also taken from the Village Hotel restaurant.
Here are the underwater photos from Pohnpei.


Next on the itinerary was Yap (map), where I did eleven dives over the course of a week with Beyond the Reef. The dive operation is run by Dave Vecella, who is the guy who taught me how to dive when I was in Yap last year.
This is the dock at Beyond the Reef. This is the size boat we took out to the reefs, typically with three or four guests, plus dive guide and boat captain.
Here are the underwater photos from Yap.


Republic of Belau (Palau)

I spent over a week in Palau (map), and did nine dives. (I would've done ten or more, but I got sick and ended up in the hospital. Not to worry, I survived.) I went with a great dive operator, Keith Santillano, who takes a few people at a time to places the bigger dive operations don't go.
I didn't take any above-water photos during this part of the trip, but this is a bird's eye view of the Rock Islands, where most people spend their time when they visit Palau.
Here are the underwater photos from Palau.


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