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Often called Garden Island because of its lush green appearance, Pohnpei offers quality diving with sharks and manta rays at seemingly untouched reefs in crystal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Diving in Pohnpei

Quick facts

There are only a handful of dive operators to choose from on Pohnpei as the diving industry is still in its infancy. That is a good thing as it means uncrowded dive sites and pristine coral reefs. It is difficult to escape the rain in Pohnpei as it rains heavily throughout the year. Winds do pick up during December to March but it is still possible to dive here on a year-round basis.

There are many dive sites around Pohnpei but the best dive sites are concentrated at the north side of the island and also at the nearby Ant Atoll and Pakin Atoll. Water temperature averages at 81˚F (27˚C) and the dive sites consist of beautiful drop-offs, hard coral gardens, passes and channels which are frequented by manta rays. Visibility is usually good especially at the outer reefs and atolls and average at 100ft (30m).

Some highlights at Pohnpei include Palikir Pass, Manta Channel, Mwand Wall and the atolls. Palikir Pass is a deeper dive at 100-130ft (30-40m) and is known for its large shark population. Manta Channel, as its name indicates, is frequented by manta rays and at Mwand Wall, see beautiful formations of hard coral and healthy reef life. At Ant Atoll and Pakin Atoll, the dive sites are truly beautiful with clear waters and healthy hard coral coverage.

When to go

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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What to see

At Palikir Pass, expect to see more than thirty and sometimes up to a hundred grey reef sharks especially on an incoming tide. Manta rays can be seen on a year-round basis and they often gather near channels with cleaning stations.

At the drop-offs and at the atolls, lookout for green sea turtles, humphead wrasse, groups of bumphead parrotfish and also groupers. Colorful reef dwellers bring the hard and soft coral reef to life and there will be many giant clams and anemones to inspect. There have been reports of pygmy seahorses spotted in the area so do comb through the sea fans for a potential surprise.


For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

Most likely sightingsPossible sightings


One of the wettest places in the world, the state of Pohnpei is the largest and most developed of the Federated States of Micronesia. The state includes the main island of Pohnpei, eight atolls, 25 small islands and another 137 scattered atolls. Sometimes known as the Garden Island, Pohnpei is a lush green volcanic island that is covered with dense tropical jungle with its highest point at Mount Nanlaud, which is 2,566ft (782m) high. Due to the heavy rainfall, the island has many waterfalls and rivers which lead into mangrove swamps and channels along the island’s jagged coastlines.

Pohnpei’s history can be traced back to before c.1100 from the existence of the Nan Madol basalt ruins which lies on the eastern shores of the island. The rule of the island was by the Saudeleur Dynasty and they developed a tribal culture which was fiercely protective of the island. The islanders chased away many European voyagers through the 16th to 18th century and only in the 19th century fell subject to colonial occupation right until the 20th century.

Fast forward to today, Pohnpei is mostly slow and quiet with a population of 34,000 people. Palikir town is the administrative center and capital of the Federated States of Micronesia but the most populous town in Pohnpei is Kolonia. Pohnpei is growing in popularity amongst the surfing community for excellent waves at the Palikir Pass. Besides that, Pohnpei offers travelers activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking and hiking.

Other attractions

Visit the basalt ruins of Nan Madol which was once the capital of the island. Head to the magnificent Sokehs Rock which can be climbed on a dry day. Either that, head into the jungle for a hike and hopes of spotting endemic bird and animal species on the island. Surfing season runs from October to May and is mostly at Palikir Pass.

Getting there

United Airlines offers an island hopper service that starts from Guam, stopping at Chuuk, before arriving at Pohnpei. There is also a flight from the Marshall Islands.


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120 V

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Main airport
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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