Micronesia. Be honest you haven't heard of it, or if you have you don't quite know where it is? Don't worry I hadn't either. And that's what excited me about it, a seemingly unknown country that boasts some of the best scuba diving in the world, and even an experienced Dive Master such as myself, didn't even know where it was.
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is a region that includes approximately 2,100 islands. Its largest being the more talked about 'Guam'. Now my unofficial description of its location, if we are visualising it on a map, is to the North (Pacific Ocean) of Australia and East of the Philippines.
Let us get down to the main reason people travel from far and wide to these tiny some inhabited islands every year: The Scuba Diving!
To say these islands have all of the ingredients to crown them some of the world's best kept secret scuba locations would be an understatement. The crystal clear waters, rarely dropping below 30C boast the world largest collection of naval wrecks in the world. An underwater museum that is shared with manta rays, sharks and dolphins as well as rare fish and plant species, is full of untold stories of WW2 stood still in time. If you like getting 'wrecked' there is honestly no place in the world like it.
But the great thing is it's not all about the rust. There's something for everyone- all levels and interests. Sheltered by a reef brimming with life, you can spend hours searching through corals and chasing after clown fish (or Nemo as most people call it).
If you fancy getting your heart beating a little faster after that mid-afternoon nap the sentence 'wanna go shark diving?' here is as common as 'do you want rum in that coconut?' Reef, black and white tips are friendly residents on a lot of the wrecks, and closer to the reefs it wouldn't be uncommon to come across 20-30 of them each sighting.
Blue Corner is the most famous dive site in Palau, with its dramatic sheer walls and an abundance of fish life, it is fast becoming one of the best sites in the world. Strong currents bring plenty of blacktip, whitetip and grey reef sharks, schools of jacks and huge Napoleon wrasse.
Turtles and colourful reef fish are also seen in the coral gardens. The best diving is between 15m and 25m. The best location for beginner divers, although Advanced Open Water certificate is recommended due to slight currents and options of wreck diving.
Live aboards are big business in Micronesia, with most visitors choosing to combine diving, food and accommodation together and make one of the luxury boats their home for the week.
The lagoon is the final resting place for more than 100 ships, planes and submarines – the legacy of a fierce World War II battle between the Imperial Japanese Fleet and Allied carrier planes.
An underwater world that has been declared an underwater museum. Let me tell you this from spending 3 months diving there: this place will change your scuba life. Words cannot describe the beauty and history you will experience here.
Yap is famous for its large population of resident manta rays which you can encounter on a year-round basis.
Over 100 manta rays live in the waters surrounding Yap. In the winter (usually December to late April) the mantas congregate in even greater numbers in Mi'l Channel (Manta Ray Bay or Manta Ridge) for the mating season when processions of as many as 12 manta rays at one time can be seen cruising back and forth in the channel.