Like a con­stel­la­tion, the is­lands of Mi­crone­sia – or "Small Is­lands" – splash across the eastern Pa­cific, and the div­ing leaves many starry-eyed, too

Action Asia - - FINAL FRAME -

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.

Plan­ner Con­tents

Fish 'n Fins • Ocean Hunter 1 • Ocean Hunter 3 • Palau Ag­gres­sor II • Palau Pa­cific Re­sort • Palau Siren • Soli­tude One • SS Thorfinn • Truk Mas­ter

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