Micronesia is located in the Pacific Ocean, an area of nearly 3 million square miles, twice the size of the continental United States.
Micronesia is populated with thousands of tiny islands and over half a million people live within its borders. Micronesia includes the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) and Guam.
Located above and below the equator in the Western Pacific, the islands share many similarities when it comes to their tropical beauty, gorgeous beaches, and the warmth and open hospitality of their people. But there are also many dynamic differences that make Micronesia such an exciting and diverse place to visit.
Starting with Guam, the largest in both Micronesia and its own Marianas chain. The Marianas Islands run along the curve of the Marianas Trench, with Guam located closest giving it claim to the tallest mountain in the world from below sea level, Mt. Lamlam. It is a beautiful tropical island with luxury resorts and hotels along the beaches, cosmopolitan shopping centers, water sports, golf courses, and so much more.
Guam makes a wonderful starting or ending point (or both) for an adventure to Micronesia. Start your trip by learning about the oldest culture in the Pacific with a visit to the Guam Museum or enjoy the Heritage Walking Trail in Hagåtña with well-marked historic and cultural sites, including the Guam Museum and I SengSong Chamorro Village, where you can try Chamorro food for lunch or go shopping for local souvenirs and art.
The island’s balance of traditional culture and modern life make for a unique way of living that honors its history while living in a contemporary world. Visitors enjoy dinner shows featuring Chamorro cultural performances as well as Las Vegas style shows. There are shops that offer locally Made in Guam products, luxury designer goods, and American brand names. Guam’s duty free status makes shopping an extra pleasure.
One of the many things that Guam shares with her sister islands in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas is the latte stone. The Chamorro people of the Marianas are the only culture to carve these shapes from the limestone, though the sizes vary. In Guam, the tallest average is about ten feet, but in Tinian, particularly at the House of Taga site, the latte stones are as tall as 15 feet. Saipan, the largest of the islands that make up the CNMI, has preserved much of its history from World War II and is a great spot for diving and golfing. Rota is renowned for its unspoiled natural beauty. Visitors really enjoy the natural sea swimming hole and eco-tourism opportunities.
Palau lies below the equator to the west and is full of unexpected surprises, Jellyfish Lake being top on the list. Basically a hidden oasis, Jellyfish Lake was once open to the sea but became enclosed and separate. Due to a lack of natural predators, over the years, the jellies lost their stingers and now spend their days leisurely floating from one side of the lake to the other chasing the sunlight and interacting with visitors who come to swim with them. Swimming with dolphins, kayaking in to hidden lagoons, taking a tour of the Rock Islands, and sightseeing are just some of the amazing things to do in Palau.
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) are made up of four main island groups, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap, and Kosrae. Each island has its own secrets waiting to be discovered, like the mysterious ancient ruins of Nan Madol in Pohnpei. The island also boasts Micronesia’s only rain forest because its location puts it out of the way of typhoons. Chuuk is known for its diving, especially in the Truk Lagoon where downed ships and planes from WWII can easily be seen by snorkeling or diving.
Yap is known as “The Land of Stone Money,” where Rai stones, as they’re called, still stand in their original locations. Yap is also familiar for its spectacular diving opportunities, including the Manta Cleaning Station where the giant mantas gather to clean themselves of algae. The last island of the FSM is Kosrae which has incredible mangrove channels you can explore by kayak or hike to the ancient Lelu ruins in the jungle.
The final group of islands is the Republic of the Marshall Islands, known as the “Pearl of the Pacific.” The Marshalls are a wonderful place for eco-tourism enthusiasts. The islands are pristine and offer great opportunities for diving, sports fishing and surfing. Tours to WWII historic sites and the Bikini Atoll are available.
The further out in to Micronesia you travel, the more rustic and natural the journey. This is why some visitors like to start in the less developed parts of Micronesia and end their tour in Guam, which is the most modernized. For more information about Guam, including advice and suggestions for planning a personalized trip, visitwww.visitguam.org. To learn more about the other island destinations in Micronesia, visit www.micronesiatour.com.