So Deep

The Federated States of Micronesia is a nation made up of 607 islands in the archipelago of the Caroline Islands, located in the South Pacific northeast of Papua New Guinea. This nation is best described as an exotic paradise of islands so undiscovered that the traditional customs and way of life of its people remain as evident as ever.

While the Federated States of Micronesia consist of hundreds of islands, only 65 of the islands are actually inhabited. Although scattered, the islands are nevertheless grouped into four states for administrative purposes: Chuuk, Yap, Kosrae, and Pohnpei, with the capital in Palikir on Pohnpei. These islands are considered a part of Micronesia, a region of hundreds of islands northeast of Melanesia and northwest of Polynesia and includes countries like Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Palau.

The Federated States of Micronesia was first inhabited 4000 thousand years ago by the Austronesians. In the 16th century, the Spanish colonized the Caroline Islands but later transferred its claims to Germany in 1899. The Japanese took control of the islands during WWI. After WWII, the islands were administered by the U.S. until the islands gained independence in 1986 by signing a Compact of Free Association with the U.S.

Today, the few tourists who have discovered the Federated States of Micronesia love it and not just for its great climate. These islands present the true picture of tropical a paradise – clear-blue skies, sandy beaches, shallow and outstretched azure lagoons, hard and soft corals, trees of coconuts, bananas, and papayas, and remnants of shipwrecks of past. The coral reefs of these islands teem with unique tropical fishes as well as interesting marine life such as manta rays, marlins, marine turtles, mahi-mahi, barracudas, sailfishes, and tuna. These islands are definitely one of the best destinations for sportfishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. For the latter, favorite dive spots include the unspoiled reefs of Pohnpei, the legendary Manta Ray dive in M’il channel near Yap, the 50 dive sites of Kosrae, and the Truk Lagoon, where you’ll find an entire sunken Japanese fleet.

The interiors of the islands are not to be forgotten either. The Federated States of Micronesia boast lush tropical rainforests, secluded lakes and waterfalls, and a rural countryside. You’ll find everything from indigenous and rare birds to deer, lizards, and fruit bats. There are also more than six hundred species of rare plants like the Hibiscus, ironwood, eucalyptus, Hong Kong orchid, Honduras mahogany, and plumeria trees.

Those interested in archaeological ruins should not miss Lelu Island and the Nan Madol. The former is connected to Kosrae and the site of a 13th and 14th century city. You’ll find the ruins of dwellings, burial mounds, and sacred compounds. The Nan Madol is an archaeological site where you’ll find a religious and social center built during the Saudeleur dynasty. Nan Madol is the site of past rituals performed by Micronesians. It is comprised of 92 islets southeast of Pohnpei connected by twisting canals, known as the “Venice of Micronesia”. There are ruins of temples, burial vaults, baths, houses, basalt pillars, and hexagonal columns.

But the best part of the Federated States of Micronesia is perhaps the traditions and customs of the Micronesians you’ll find on live display. Some of the islanders still trade in ancient stone currency, wear traditional garments, sing island music, and perform the traditional village dances.