The Nan Madol ruins (File photo)
The Nan Madol ruins (File photo)

Pohnpei: The Land of Mystery

by MICRONESIATOUR.COM
MICRONESIATOUR.COM

Pohnpei is upon a “stone altar.” There is nothing like it anywhere in the world! Full of magic, mystery, and tradition of ancient culture, where the past is today but modernized.

Pohnpei in the North-Western Pacific Ocean, lies 7 degree north of the equator, 1690 kilometers southeast of Guam and 5214 kilometers south west of Honolulu. Its population is estimated at 36,000. The normal daytime temperature is 27 degrees celsius throughout the year. Visit Pohnpei via United Airline through Guam and Hawaii.

Pohnpei State incorporates Pohnpei main island, a large volcanic island with eight atolls totaling 344 square miles, 25 smaller islands within a barrier reef and 137 widely-scattered coral atolls.

Pohnpei is one of the four states of Micronesia and is the capital of Federated States Micronesia. It is also the country’s largest and tallest island. It is 884 meters high, 21 kilometers wide and shaped like a circular tent. It fits the typical South Sea island image with lush vegetation, abundant rainfall and tumbling waterfalls. Unlike other Micronesian islands, Pohnpei has tropical jungles, mist-covered mountains and one of the healthiest mangrove swamps and exotic flora in the Pacific.

The mountainous, rainforest island of Pohnpei is jam-packed full of exciting things for the adventurous eco-tourist to do. Mountain and jungle hikes, dozens of pristine waterfalls, idyllic lagoon islands and atolls, snorkeling, fishing, surfing, kayaking and more await.

The diversity of tropical landscape and scenery found in Pohnpei has earned its title “The Garden Island of Micronesia.” Many believed that it is also the most beautiful island in the Micronesian islands. Mt. Nahna Laud rises to 2,660 feet and receive one of the world’s highest rainfalls, some 400 inches annually, creating a lush tropical jungle and 40 rivers that sweep over the rugged terrain in a series of swift-running streams and create spectacular waterfalls.

The rugged and largely uninhabited interior of Pohnpei is the best place for close encounters with the island’s natural beauty, flora, and wildlife. More than 750 species of plants thrive here, 250 of them indigenous to the island. There are 50 species of birds, five of which are endemic, more than 70 species of lizards, wild pigs, deer and the nimble Pohnpei Flying Fox.  Most of Pohnpei shoreline is covered by mangrove swamps, however, artificial beaches have been created and nearby Reef Islands boasts stunning shores. Fishing and diving here are superb in this part of the world. There are also hiking trails, kayaking venues, surf sites, glyphs and war relics and even difficult challenges of weeklong treks high in the mountains. If you love the outdoors, Pohnpei has something for you!

For more information about Pohnpei, visit Pohnpei’s official Tourism website: http://www.visit-pohnpei.fm

U.S. citizens may enter Pohnpei with a U.S. passport or proof of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate). Non-U.S. citizens must have a valid passport from their country of origin. Plants and animals must be given prior approval before entry, and animals must be quarantined. Importation of controlled substances or weapons is strictly prohibited. Vaccination or certification is not required unless the traveler comes from an infected area. A visa is not required for a tourist visiting FSM for 30 days or less although an onward or return ticket and valid passport (120 days) are required. For more detail information please visit the FSM website at www.visit-micronesia.fm

On foot is the best way to discover and explore Kolonia. Taxis are also easily available and can be called to most locations around Pohnpei. Taxi fare is inexpensive in Kolonia, at about $1.00 to any destination within the city. Renting a car is another great way to get around Pohnpei. Rental cars are available at the airport and through hotels. Renting a boat or bus is also available, just ask your hotel to make the arrangement for you.

Pohnpei offers a wide range of accommodation to suit all visitors coming for tourism or business. From in-town hotels to resorts located just outside of Kolonia Town. More information on accommodations: www.visit-micronesia.fm.

On foot is the best way to discover and explore Kolonia. Taxis are also easily available and can be called to most locations around Pohnpei. Taxi fare is inexpensive in Kolonia, at about $1.00 to any destination within the city. Renting a car is another great way to get around Pohnpei. Rental cars are available at the airport and through hotels. Renting a boat or bus is also available, just ask your hotel to make the arrangement for you.

Pohnpei presents a wealth of historic, cultural and geographic sites that highlight the unique richness of the Marianas.  The best part is, you can easily visit a number of significant sites in a single day.

The Nan Madol ruins are one of more than 100 sites of historical significance from the pre-contact period till Trust Territory. This is a mysterious man-made city that was once housing a thriving royal civilization. Archaeologists and engineers are attempting to discover more about the race which constructed the island city. However, much is still to be learned about mysterious ancient stone City Island. Nan Madol is reached by boat or car from the main town of Kolonia.

A 20-minute ride out of Kolonia takes you to the Nanpil River and a large natural pool where the river temporarily slows down. Further along, the same river are the spectacular Liduduhniap Twin Waterfalls where you can rest or picnic in a natural jungle setting. A day trip to privately-owned Nahlap and Black Coral Island in the lagoon is the perfect way to safely snorkel the reef. For a family day, visit Nihco Marine and Resort, Nahlap and Black Coral Islands with its simple cottages where visitors can stay overnight for a small fee.

In Kolonia you can see the Spanish Wall, built in 1889 as a boundary for Fort Alphonso XII. Nearby is the Catholic Mission Bell Tower, all that remains of the old German church torn down by the Japanese during WWII. Also, take a stroll into the Kapingamarani village and watch the craftsmen whittle ornaments from locally grown ivory seed. Most tours operate from Kolonia, and many of the waterfalls and areas of historical and ecological importance can only be reached by guided tour.

Surrounded largely by rich mangrove forests, Pohnpei’s jagged coastline is intersected by numerous channels that carry nutrients into the vast lagoon. These nutrients attract marine life and make Pohnpei on of the most varied marine environments in Micronesia.

The fishing and diving around the island is superb. Warm, crystal clear water, untouched reefs teeming with marine life, dazzling corals, manta rays, sea turtles, white and black tipped reefs, sharks, barracuda , and breathtaking drop-offs are beckon enthusiastic divers. The island coral reefs and colorful drop-offs are enchanting.  Sea anemones, soft corals, and colorful gorgonian sea fans are dotting the walls.

The neighboring atolls, Ant and Pakin Atoll, and Black Coral Island are the best-known dive location in Pohnpei and are just a short boat trip away. The atolls exude the aura of paradise unspoiled. Here, the true meaning of pristine diving comes to the fore. Whether it be riding a raging current out to sea through an island pass or exploring the deep fan-laden chasm, the atolls are a fantastic experience. Outer island journeys are available via charter plane or government boat (Mwoakilloa, Pingelap, Nukuoro, Sapwafik, and Kapingamarangi).

Pohnpei is now known in the surfing world for its awesome waves at the Palikir Pass. Surf magazines, professional surfers and intrepid travelers alike have been traveling here to sample the huge potential that the islands hold for surfing. With cross and cross-off conditions prevalent throughout the year, Pohnpei has some of the perfect set-ups for surfing, kite surfing and more. Visit the Pohnpei Surf Club website at www.pohnpeisurfclub.com to get an update an about surfing in Pohnpei.

Natural parks and recreation include Keprohi, Liduduniap, Sahwartik, Pahnsile, Pahn Takai and Nankewi. Each site has a waterfall pool for swimming. One of its oldest landmarks is the Sokehs Rock, a steep cliff face that has spectacular panoramic views over Kolonia, the airport, and the barrier reef.

Pohnpei is famous for its energetic dance and also the relaxing drinking sakau, a kava-like brew drink use in ceremonies and also sold in bars. Watching sakau being prepared is an experience unique to Pohnpei. Enjoy the mild root tincture on the rock in a local sakau market or in one of many remote villages of the island to experience the true essence of Pohnpei. Pohnpei people offer a look at family life island style. Communities come together to weave a new boathouse or just wash clothes. Kids frolic in the water of the many rivers that flow from the mountains and down past the villages.

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