The remote island of Yap has ancient basalt trails, a forbidden island, huge hand-carved rai stone coins, amazing cuisine, and the most beautiful ocean you will ever see. Access to this tropical paradise from any base in the Pacific is straightforward as the final leg is only a 96-minute evening flight from Guam International Airport to the island of Yap.

On a recent visit, I stayed at the Manta Ray Bay Resort, one of the largest properties on the island and distinguished by its manta swimming pool, large rooms, and huge schooner anchored out front which features a first deck breakfast restaurant, diner on the second deck and a bar and grill on the top deck.


The morning after our arrival, I woke up and went with a local friend for a trek on the famous Colonia stone path that started by my hotel and ran through the local villages. Although the hand-made stone path had been laid a millennium ago, long before the current roads came into use, it was in pristine shape. Before we started our trek, my friend trimmed both of us a handful of leaves that we needed to hold in our right hands during our hike to signify to the locals that we were passing visitors and came in peace. We spent an hour trekking through the jungle from village to village on the stone path. It was an area that time had forgotten as there was no water or electricity. At the end of the trail, we emerged back on the main road and returned to our hotel.


The next day, we boarded one of Manta Bay Resort’s dive boats for a glimpse of Inner Space Yap. After a blazingly wet 35-minute ride out, we arrived at the dive site, where huge manta rays congregate to be cleaned by wrasse and smaller fish. The actual cleaning area was only 15-feet deep above a huge coral head, but as we hunched down with our cameras, the marine bats would swoop in above us to be cleaned and then just as quickly fly away. After 40 minutes of observing the monstrous mantas, we dove into the depths and back to our boat.

For our second dive, we cruised out beyond the waves to the outer reef to a spot named Vertigo. Our boat anchored at the edge of the outer reef in about 15 feet of water, with the drop-off going down to about 150 feet to white sand. The amazing thing about this dive is that sharks are accustomed to being fed chum and blood by the boats, so when they hear the motors, they congregate nearby. When a diver splashes down, they all rush up, regardless of whether there is actual food available for them. During our dive, we had no fresh guts for them, so they soon swam deeper. However, the sensation of having so many sharks up close and personal was awe inspiring. After our hour was up, we returned to our boat and headed back to Manta Bay Resort.


Yap has many islands, but perhaps the most famous is the formerly Forbidden Island of Rumung, which is now accessible by private boat, albeit with permission only. Together with friends from Yap Visitors Bureau and others, we took a short 30-minute boat ride past the outer reefs to the Forbidden Island. Once we got to the remote coast, we docked at an old meeting house to meet our resident guide Ben, who led us on a hike to abandoned villages via raised limestone paths. As we trekked on, we were surrounded by ancient stone money that ranged from a few feet wide to huge pieces bigger than us and are the largest in the republic. After hiking through the sweltering heat, our guides gifted us freshly cut coconuts that were filled with sweet milk. Our guides told us that during World War II due to lack of supplies, many Japanese troops used the coconuts and their juice as natural IVs to rejuvenate from injuries and wounds. We then boarded our boats for the wet ride back, first stopping for a dip at the most beautiful, submerged beach on the planet.


For our last adventure, we traveled to the village of Balabat Rull in Colonia to view a traditional dance performed exclusively by female dancers. After arriving, we joined other guests and sat on the ground to view the show. Yap is traditionally segregated depending on the occasion, with females not allowed in the men’s meeting house. Since it was an all-female group performing, I was not allowed to cross over to the other side. After the ladies sat down, family and friends came out and presented them with presents ranging from candies and sweets to fruit juice and beer. After the gift presentation, a group of about 50 female dancers dressed in traditional colorful hula skirts came out and sat in front of the Rai money stones, chanting several songs before performing some dances. After the last dance, the ladies quietly retired back to their staging area. We went home with the satisfaction that we stepped back in time for a brief moment.

Contact info:

Manta Ray Bay Resort: Email: yapdivers@mantaray.com or use the chat feature on their homepage mantaray.com

Yap Visitor’s Bureau: Email yapvisitors@gmail.com or visityap.com

United Airlines: united.com

What to wear:

Always cool and comfortable gear is best. Shorts, slip-ons, and a T or polo shirt.

When to go:

Anytime. Yap is warm year around, although it does experience some heavy rainfall from September through December.

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