Check out the stone money
The intact traditional culture of Yap leaves many visitors in awe, and one of the greatest attractions is Yap’s stone money.
Locally called rai, the stone money is in the shape of a donut and about one to twelve feet in diameter. It was formed out of crystalline calcite from limestone caves and was said to be produced 2,000 years ago. Only about 6,600 pieces survived the changing times and the war.
The stone money was quarried mainly from Palau. Men sailed the 250-mile journey on a canoe, carved round stones out, and holed them so they could easily be rafted back to Yap.
It was a rigorous and dangerous process, and many perished along the way, which increased the value of the stone money. Up until today, the stone money’s value depends on its history and age. The harder it was to obtain, the more valuable it is.
These money disks are not legal tender in Micronesia, but they are still used in Yap for traditional exchanges such as land transfers.
However, they are not often moved from where they are because of their size and weight. They are fixed outside the houses of the villagers, available for all to see. Some are tucked into canals known as stone money banks.
These money disks are unique to Yap, so when you visit, take a good look at them, or have your picture taken with them – but be sure not to lean or put your feet on these centuries-old money disks.
Micronesia waters are characterized by great marine diversity, which translates to one thing: a spectacular diving experience.
And true to its unspoken promise, the island nation offers tourists a memorable time underwater.
Beneath the clear waters of Yap is a high concentration of manta rays, which positioned the state as the leading manta ray dive site in the world.
Manta rays are seen here almost on a daily basis, never failing to entertain all kinds of divers. Completing the underwater spectacle are tunas, sharks, dolphins, trevallys, mandarinfish, nudibranchs, and coral reefs.
Chuuk, of course, is famous for its World War II wrecks. Fusing marine beauty with history, the underwater world in Chuuk is the best wreck dive site in the world. Now with corals covering them, the wrecks beautifully blend with nature.
Pohnpei and Kosrae are equally entertaining dive sites. Pohnpei is known as the most diverse marine world in Micronesia, because of the many different species that thrive in its waters.
Kosrae, on the other hand, keeps a big collection of corals. It has 172 hard coral species and 10 soft coral species, making the underwater world alive with bright colors.
There are several dive operators in each state, so arranging for a dive is as easy as plunging into the waters.
Set sail on a canoe
There is something special about traversing the sea on a canoe. The entire sea view is laid bare before your eyes, calming your senses as the wind blows to kiss your face.
It is a beautiful moment, indeed, but what makes it even more special is the fact that you are sailing the traditional way – on a traditional vessel, the use of which is passed from generation to generation.
Sailing on a canoe, therefore, becomes not only a way to explore the sea but also a rare chance to experience for yourself an ancient culture.
Canoe sailing is offered in Yap and is usually arranged by hotels. The canoes are handmade and crafted using ancient construction methods.
If you want to take your canoe adventure to another level, you can take the canoe tour offered by the Yap Traditional Maritime Institute. Through this tour, you will learn how canoes are carved and used for navigation.
Spend a day fishing
Many Micronesians are fishermen, which is not surprising since Micronesia is surrounded by water. It is also not surprising that one of the tourist attractions in the country is sport fishing.
Fishing is done in different ways – you can go trolling, whipping, fly fishing, or deep sea fishing. But however you fish, you are guaranteed to have a catch. Micronesian water is so abundant that catching skip jack, mahi-mahi, yellow fin tuna, marlin, and Wahoo is not uncommon.
Because of this marine abundance, many sport fishing enthusiasts are flying to Micronesia year in and year out. And they are never disappointed, because the water of Micronesia is ever so generous.
Fishing can also be arranged by hotels, but touching base with fishing societies is an ideal way to go about it.
Learn about the Micronesian culture
How Micronesia preserved its traditional culture in the modern generation is an outstanding feat.
Ultimately, it is rooted in the loyalty of the people to their culture, an attribute that is disarmingly attractive. And as a result, the country doesn’t seem to be overwrought by the demands of time and just exists in silence like it used to.
You cannot escape the ancient culture of Micronesia, because time-worn practices and customs are evident in everything and everywhere. Still, it doesn’t hurt to go deeper and get to know the people and their culture in a more personal level.
This can be done in several ways: Have a tour in Yap villages, where you will be treated to a genuine island experience. Basket weaving and traditional dances are only some of the attractions here.
You can also buy love stick souvenirs in Chuuk. Love sticks were courtship implements back in the days, and having at least two is a nice way of remembering the Chuukese culture.
When in Kosrae, take some time to observe the locals weaving handicrafts. In Pohnpei, purchase exclusive wood carvings of island symbols such as manta rays and sharks.