Located on the Caroline Islands archipelago in the Western Pacific Ocean, Yap is one of four states amongst the Federated States of Micronesia. The island was sighted by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century, but it was the Spanish that laid claim to it until the late 19th century. Just before World War I, the Spanish sold the island to Germans which eventually gave in to the Japanese in the early 20th century.
Yap was occupied by the Japanese until World War II, after which Americans took over. Fast forward to today, Yap exhibits strong American and Japanese influences and you are likely to find excellent sashimi on the island, as well as burger and fries.
Yap is a highly acclaimed diving destination and is one of the best places in the world to observe manta rays. In 2008, Yap became the world’s first manta ray sanctuary, helping to sustain the healthy ray population in Yap’s waters.
Amongst non-divers, Yap is famous for its stone money. Stone money can be as large as 12ft (3.6m) in diameter and is still used for large transactions like the purchase of land or wedding dowries. The people of Yap, known as Yapese, continue to practice traditional customs and culture. An exciting time to visit Yap is in the first week of March, during Yap Day, where you can immerse yourself in the ancient traditions of the Yapese. As luck would have it, this also coincides with manta ray mating season.
Book yourself on a land tour to explore the island, visiting stone money banks, traditional men’s houses and meeting local Yapese. Rent a kayak or snorkel to explore the shallow reefs or head to the outer reefs for deep sea fishing expeditions. Other great land activities include relaxing on Yap’s pristine and isolated beaches or hiking through wilderness trails.
Get to Yap is via United Airlines which flies from Palau or Guam. From Guam, there are two flights a week and from Palau, only once a week. Most resorts provide ground transport on Yap.