Like a constellation, the islands of Micronesia – or "Small Islands" – splash across the eastern Pacific, and the diving leaves many starry-eyed, too
There are few destinations as welcoming for divers as Micronesia. The islands stretch across the Pacific, 2,300 of them running from the edge of the Philippines in the west to Hawaii in the east. They're not the easiest place to reach. The best diving sites never are. If you want plenty of fish and other fauna, it's best to be far from all the people who eat them. Dive tourism is a key component of most of the economies in the region. So governments and locals alike roll out the proverbial red carpet for divers. It also means almost everyone sees merit in maintaining healthy reefs. Many resorts in Micronesia cater to families, and with warm, calm waters, children will feel at home. Palau's Blue Corner is quite possibly the best dive site in the world, a place where currents and pelagics converge. Divers hook in a reef hook and hang on, watching grey reef sharks, tuna and other big fish feed in the surge. Palau became the first place in the world to designate itself a shark sanctuary, banning all shark fishing entirely. That's reflected in their populations. Unlike other spots in Asia, you're likely to see a shark just about every dive. The island of Peleliu has a great drift dive, the Peleliu Express. Great hammerheads and other large pelagics often sweep into view. For history buffs, there is Truk Lagoon, which has some 70 wrecks in its waters, a bucket list trip for any wreckhead. They are the product of Operation Hailstone, the U.S. Navy's attack on the Japanese fleet near the end of World War II in 1944. Relics like bullets, china and even bones can still be discovered. Dive into a hold and you may find jeeps and other wellpreserved materiel. Several wrecks reward technical divers, only reached by those with extended bottom time. A liveaboard is a natural choice if you're spending any length of time in Micronesia and want to get in some serious diving. Expect up to six dives a day if you want. Guam is the hub of travel around the region, and offers good diving in itself. It's a strange slice of Americana in the middle of the Pacific, all Hawaiian shirts and Hard Rock Cafés, populated by the Japanese tourists who dominate the arrivals, mingling with Marines and Air Force flyboys. The Northern Mariana Islands to Guam's north provide a chance to get away from it all, and Rota, Saipan and Tinian are worth exploring underwater as well as on land. The Federated States of Micronesia stretch across an expanse of ocean to Palau's east, with Yap famous for its manta rays, reef sharks and large schools of fish. Pohnpei is famous for Nan Madol, a bizarre series of 92 deserted man-made islets that date from the year 1100 and once served as the centre of life for the island. The Marshall Islands had been proving a popular dive site, particularly Bikini Atoll, the site of U.S. nuclear testing. But with Air Marshall Islands currently grounded, the only way to reach Bikini is by boat.
Fish 'n Fins • Ocean Hunter 1 • Ocean Hunter 3 • Palau Aggressor II • Palau Pacific Resort • Palau Siren • Solitude One • SS Thorfinn • Truk Master