The FSM offers an amazingly diverse range of natural ecosystems, from the world’s lowest elevation cloud forests, tropical rain forests, agro-forests, freshwater “Redwood” wetlands, giant taro swamps, large and varied mangrove tracts, to some of the world’s most pristine coral reefs, sea-grass meadows and estuaries and lagoons. Local guides can take you through a unique island adventure through one or several of these equatorial wonders in a single day due to the relatively compacted nature of these ecosystems, from waterfall to reef. Trails, such as the ancient stone walking paths of Yap, are readily accessible. Awesome mountain vistas to the cavernous bowels of ancient banyan trees await. The lack of any predatory animals, or of snakes, allows the whole family to enjoy these activities on land. Due to the nearly constant presence of both sun and rain, the shimmering greenery and foliage of the islands in FSM are unsurpassed. It is truly vibrant and alive. You have to see it to believe the actual splendor of the Caroline Islands.
Note: Many trails, lands, beaches and reef areas are private. When entering these areas, please follow
the designation of a local guide.
Bird and Flora watching
The islands are blessed with many indigenous bird species: the nightingale reed-warbler, the Truk monarch, the blue-faced parrot finch, the Pohnpei Lori, the Kosrae greater white-eye, to name just a few. The island of Chuuk in particular has become a mecca for the bird-watching enthusiast. In addition, each of the FSM States hosts indigenous and extremely rare flying fox (fruit bats) populations. Guides can bring the intrepid visitor to flying fox colonies where hundreds of bats sleep and congregate during the day, before this keystone species disperses across the islands at night. A profusion of tropical shrubs, flowers and trees numbering more than six hundred species of higher plants are found in the FSM States. Hibiscus, Hong Kong orchid, ironwood, eucalyptus, Honduras mahogany, papaya, banana, coconut and plumeria trees can be found just about everywhere.
Note: Many trails, lands, beaches and reef areas are private. When entering these areas, please follow the designation of a local guide.
Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
FSM reefs and ocean are some of the cleanest and clearest waters in the world and are comfortable for diving and snorkeling all the year round. Schools of tuna, barracuda and trevaly, pods of dolphins, turtles, Grouper aggregations and colorful collections of many tropical fish are commonly found. Yap and Pohnpei are famous for their world-renowned reef passes that have large groupings of giant manta rays, where divers and snorkelers can encounter these magnificent and gentle creatures up close and personal as the mantas feed on nutrients and plankton year-round. In Kosrae, it is not unusual for the visibility under the water on and around the pristine fringing reef of the island to reach 60. There are over 172 types of hard coral and 10 types of soft coral, with an abundance of beautiful sea anemones and over 250 species of reef fish as well as other pelagic species that often venture near to the reef. Grey reef sharks, which are known to be quite harmless, are also a constant presence in and around the fringing reef. Chuuk Lagoon is the known as the wreck diving capital of the world and any diver worth his or her salt should dive the sunken armada of the Japanese Fourth Imperial Fleet at least once in their lifetime. (See the category of “Wreck Diving” below for further details on this world-class adventure.)
The sea floor beneath the warm, clear waters of Chuuk Lagoon is steeped in history. It is a major shipwreck site from WWII, with the hulks having been transformed into amazing underwater museums and wonders of nature, holding the very best of the undersea world and maritime history at one site. Dubbed “ship-reefs”, the sites are as colorful as they are compact and offer hours of diving on each wreck.
By law, the underwater museum is intended for the enjoyment of the world’s most adventurous divers and the respectful diver should remember to leave all artifacts and remnants on-site.
Sport and game fishing are literally unparalleled in the FSM, with some of the biggest sport fishing remaining in the world. A relatively new and undeveloped component of the growing variety of tourism activities within FSM, this is a niche that will get the juices flowing, from the novice fisher to the avid angler. One may also enjoy excellent bottom fishing, casting from shore, trolling, catching giant mangrove crabs, and a variety of other fishing methods. Fishing is quickly becoming a very popular activity for visitors in Micronesia. There are many fishing tournaments throughout Micronesia, and visitors are welcome to enter. Or contact a local guide of fishing-tour operator and enjoy a day of sun, sport-fishing and beautiful, deep blue waters and glimmering reefs on the ocean.
Waterfalls and Caves
PahnTakai Cave and Falls (POHNPEI)
It is a 30-minute hike into the rainforest to this huge overhanging cave and waterfall. The waterfall is 150 feet high and the cave more than 900 feet across. A large colony of bats live in the cave and there is access behind the waterfall that leads to the Kupwuriso cannons, relics from the WWII era. Indeed this is where the name PahnTakai, which means “underneath the rock”, is derived from.
Kepirohi Waterfall (POHNPEI)
This is the most popular waterfall in Pohnpei. The large, open lake at the base is perfect for swimming, and is popular for both visitors and locals alike. Kepirohi falls is about 66 feet (20 meters) tall, 98 feet (30 meters) wide, and is made up of large, square basalt stones. It is truly breathtaking and should not be missed. It is an easy 5-minute walk from the main road along a stone path hedged by tropical flower varieties of excellent color and beauty.
Nanpil River and Liduduhniap are twin falls with an upper and lower level and are a popular place to swim. It is only a short walk to the falls and there is a large pool, thatched huts and picnic area. The picnic area overlooks the falls from above and provides an awesome panorama of pure tropical jungle and mountain valley vistas./p>
Lehn Paipohn Waterfall (POHNPEI)
Sahwartik/Sahwarlap Waterfall (POHNPEI)
These two falls can be seen from a distance reflecting sunlight from large volumes of cascading water tumbling into the surrounding jungle. The smaller falls are called Sahwartik (shining faintly) and the larger falls, Sahwarlap (shining brightly).
Sipyen Waterfall (KOSRAE)
Sipyen Waterfall is a refreshing 30 foot cascade of mountain waters that bathers and photographers alike will enjoy. Located in Utwe, the waterfall offers a relief from the tropical heat. A small bath pool at the bottom rewards those healthy enough for the short five minute walk. Rocks can be slippery, so be careful when walking up the cleared path and in the shallow creek bed. The landowner lives nearby and it is courteous to ask permission before enjoying this site.
Saolung Waterfall (KOSRAE)
About a mile past Sipyen Waterfall and visible from the road, this waterfall is a tropical delight, with refreshing, clear waters year-round. At the base of the fall is a larger pool than at Sipyen Falls. The owner lives nearby and permission should be asked.
Wiya Bird Cave (KOSRAE)
A natural cave of impressive size with thousands of Resident Island swiftlet birds, it is the only residing place for this type of bird, which easily number in the hundreds. At the base of the cave is a pool of guano, accumulated over the decades, which locals use as a high-nutrient additive to the ubiquitous Kosrae home gardens in all of the villages. Legends say this cave to be home to a family of real giants, and that the cave goes through a tunnel to the other side of the island. Easy to get too just off the main road, it is truly a rare and awesome sight.
Beaches and Parks
James Palsis Marine Park (KOSRAE)
The James Palsis Marine Park offers visitors a look at some of Micronesia’s most pristine forests, mangrove and lagoon and sea-grass meadow ecosystems. Located between Tafunsak and Walung villages the Park is a community-based conservation area, recognized by the people and state of Kosrae for its outstanding and sustainable biodiversity. One may snorkel in crystal clear, 83 degree F waters over colorful reefs teeming with life, or stroll along the isolated beaches near Walung Village, which is only accessible by boat, or for the real adventurous, by foot over jungle trails forged by wild boar hunters. At the entrance to the Park, one may unwind at the newly completed picnic huts and have a BBQ, or just unwind and enjoy the aqua-blue waters moving in and out and the gentle breezes that consistently waft through. Toilet facilities and water available.
Utwe-Walung Marine Park (KOSRAE)
The Utwe-Walung Marine Park offers visitors a look at some of Micronesia’s oldest and most diverse mangrove forests, as well as a series of highly unique deep marine lakes, small islets, and back-water mangrove channels. Located between Utwe and Walung villages the Park is a community-based conservation area, recognized by the people and state of Kosrae for its outstanding and sustainable biodiversity. In 2005, the area was designated as the first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Pacific. Take a canoe tour through the channel that runs the length from Utwe to Walung villages. You’ll be amazed at the natural wonders and peaceful solitude of this vast area.
Nan Madol (POHNPEI)
Nan Madol consists of 92 separate islands covering 222 acres (90 hectares). Much of the ruins still remain in the form of enormous basalt “logs” assembled into walls and buildings. Nan Madol, the capital during the Saudeleur Dynasty, was also the center for politics and religion. It is said to have been constructed between 500 and 1500 A.D. It included the residence and tombs of the royal family, servant quarters, a guest house for visitors, and separate islands for funerals and storage. However, complete surveys have yet to be conducted, so many of the details are still a mystery, and that mystery is how these huge stones – some weighing more than two tons – were quarried, transported and finally assembled into what has been referred to as the “Venice of the Pacific”.
Pohnpaip Petroglyphs (POHNPEI)
Pohnpaip (Pohn=on top of) (paip=large rock) is about 5 meters in height with a gently sloping surface covering about 30 square meters. Petroglyphs including a sword, the sun, the moon, people, fish, and human footprints are scattered about the surface. While the creators of these Petroglyphs are unknown, it is believed that they were carved long ago by visitors from another land.
Lelu Ruins (KOSRAE)
Considered one of the wonders of the Pacific and once an ancient ruling empire complex of the entire Micronesian region, a similar version of this ruin were replicated later in Pohnpei (Nan Madol) and other islands in the Pacific. Huge basaltic slabs arranged in order, making 20-ft walls that encompassed a capital city of Kosrae in the ancient times. In fact, if the fabled stories of Lois Becke – Trader, Journalist, Writer and the famed 19 year-old Super Cargo for the legendary pirate, Bully Hayes – are to be believed, the Lelu Ruins were an active ruling metropolis through the latter part of the 19th Century. The genesis of these ruins of large basaltic walls, channels, streets, tombs, and living quarters dates back to the 13th century.
Menke Ruins (KOSRAE)
Holds the temple of the Goddess of Breadfruit, Sinlaku, where she spent her last days before fleeing to Yap before the arrival of the Missionaries in 1852. The Menke Ruins are otherwise considered – according to famed, Visiting Archaeologist to the FSM, Dr. Felicia Beardsley – as the oldest such ruins in FSM, and perhaps even the entire Micronesian sub-region, pre-dating both the Lelu Ruins in Kosrae and Nan Madol in Pohnpei. What is perhaps the best feature of the Menke Ruins is the Menke Valley itself, which holds the pure and untrammeled Menke River and one of the last two stands of TerminaliaCarolinensis (known as “Ka” in Kosrae forest in the world. The hike itself is an excellent way to enjoy the best natural beauty that the high islands of the Caroline archipelago offer.
Mountain and Hiking Trail
Iras is, at 229 meters, the loftiest peak on Weno. The mountain is the legendary home of the God, Souwoniras, and his divine son. Situated by the Wichon River and Falls, the Wichon Men’s Meeting House is the site where Weno chiefs are reported to have met with Poomey, the eldest of the six brothers who were the first chiefs of Chuuk. The shallow pool at the base of the Falls is still used for bathing and sports, just as it was in historical times. The site of Poomey’s dwelling on a mountaintop can be seen from and his gardens are nearby. Numerous Petroglyphs are etched in the exposed basalt above the falls.
Pohndollap (Sokehs Rock / Mt. Sokehs) (POHNPEI)
Mt.Sokehs is located just behind Sokehs Rock and is quite accessible. The old Japanese Army built various facilities here and the ruins have been quietly sitting deep in the jungle ever since. It is approximately 2 hours from the beginning of the mountain path to the peak (even after wandering around the battlefields). You will walk through some exceptional tropical forests as you journey to the giant cannons (think: Guns of Navarone) overlooking Palikir Pass, Pohnpei’s famous world-class surf spot. For those hard-core mountaineers and mountain-climbers, the face of Sokehs Rock offers never-climbed sheer-face basalt routes waiting to be named and conquered.
YelaKa Forest (KOSRAE)
Yela offers the visitor that rarest of dreams: a pristine series of tropical island ecosystems nearly untrammeled since the beginning of time. Indeed, Yela, one of the last roadless areas in the Pacific, remains largely closed to the public due to lack of access. At the center of the area is the increasingly famed YelaKa Forest, a globally unique freshwater swamp dominated by hundreds of towering Terminaliacarolinensis (Ka) trees. These trees have been referred to by leading Micronesia conservationists as the “Redwoods of Micronesia”. This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience and not to be missed. Contact the Yela Environment Landowners Authority (YELA) for access and an interpretive nature tour of the area.
Mt. Finkol Hiking Trail (KOSRAE)
Mt. Finkol is the highest peak in Kosrae, at more than 2,064 ft, and hosts the lowest elevation cloud forest on the planet. It is perfect for action packers. The hike requires a guide and the hiker must be in good physical condition to challenge the trail, although the climb is moderately easy. If you’re up for it, in shape and the weather cooperates – Finkol is one of the top two or three wettest places on earth – don’t miss the rare opportunity to climb Finkol. Usually, only one, or at most, two expeditions make the summit annually. It is a rainforest in its extreme beauty and full of excitement for hikers. The climb through the sinews of a series of gigantic banyan trees (think of a scene out of J.R.R Tolkien’s, The Hobbit) just past the midway point is an experience for the ages. Once you reach the summit, you’ll have panoramic views of a tropical island and fringing reef that are unmatched. The whole tour can take between 7 to 8 hours.
Mt. Oma Hiking Trail (KOSRAE)
This hike yields some of the most beautiful cultural and natural sites in Kosrae with tropical fauna, flora, cascading waterfalls, WWII caves. The summit is a few feet shy of Mt. Finkol and offers excellent and breezy vistas of the island. The tour may take 6 to 7 hours. Also available are short hikes of 45 minutes. This picture is the view from Mt. Oma.
Surfing and Kite Surfing
Surfing is a bona fide activity in Pohnpei and Kosrae in particular, where beginner and world-class surfers come to find the perfect and uncrowded breaking pipe-waves on the fringing reefs. It is the perfect waves that impress and attract professional surfers, who often travel with photographers and film-makers for major surf magazines to capture one of the world’s best right-hand waves in Pohnpei. Kite surfing has also become a popular niche amongst the surf set in FSM. The best season is from October to March. Contact surf club operators in advance as the major surf points are reached by boat.
Canoe & Kayak
AThere is no experience quite like the solitude and natural wonder of a canoe or kayak ride through a mangrove channel. It gives one a unique perspective into the ecological wonder of Micronesia’s wondrous and varied mangrove forests up close and personal. Traveling through these ancient native passage ways, one can find giant monitor lizards, the blue reef warbler, the Pacific reef heron, the red-breasted nectar-eater, and a host of other rare and unique avian fauna amidst the fantasy-novel settings that these forests provide. The quiet, glassy surface of the water also reveals an amazing array of colorful marine life below. It is an amazing and beautiful world.
Old Japanese Lighthouse (CHUUK)
On top of a hill with a fine view, the lighthouse was built in the 1930s by the Japanese Army. Offers a spectacular view of the island of Weno as well as other high islands, atolls and sand spits that dot the massive Chuuk lagoon.
Lenger Island (POHNPEI)
During the war, this island, located north of the main island of Pohnpei, was used as an important defense point and a marine flying boat base was founded here. The base was almost completely destroyed during the war, but afterwards it was restored and functioned as the official Pohnpei Airport until 1970.
Dolopwuropwur Guns (POHNPEI)
On top of the hill, which commands a beautiful view of Temwen Island, a battery and powdermagazine from the Japanese era still remains. The battery was installed to guard the channels around Pohnpei and, apparently, was never hit by enemy fire. Since the Japanese Army used this area as a base camp during the war, this site is considered historically important.
Xavier High School (CHUUK)
Xavier High School, managed by the Society of Jesus, is the first four-year high school established in FSM, built in 1953. Even now students come from islands all over Micronesia, and the educational standard is high. Many of past and current leaders of the nation, in both business and politics, are graduates of the school, which has commanding views in nearly every direction. In 1940, the Japanese Army requisitioned the church and used it as a command center.
Kosrae State Museum (KOSRAE)
The museum is located in Tofol. Artifacts from the excavations of Kosrae’s famed ruins are displayed along with other exhibits on Kosrae’s history and culture. The Museum is open and free to the public.
Giant Clam Farm (KOSRAE)
Originally a national aquaculture station where protected giant clams that reached up to 3 meters long were raised and taken out to various sanctuaries in the reefs off Walung, Okat and Utwe, the operation is now operated as a public-private partnership, known as Micronesia Management and Marketing Enterprises (MMME). MMME raises rare giant clam species primarily for export to the salt-water aquarium markets in the United States and Europe. Working with local producers in selected grow sights on the reefs of Kosrae, MMME also grows corals both for export and for planting on the reef. The facility also exports aquarium fish to the international market. 10% of all corals and clams produced are put back into the wild to help repopulate the reefs with the once abundant clams, a vital filter in the reef ecosystem, as well prized food source. MMME is located on the Lelu Causeway.