Travel Guide Oceania Micronesia Micronesia Yap

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Introduction

Yap traditionally refers to an island located in the Caroline Islands of the western Pacific Ocean, a part of the Federated States of Micronesia. The name "Yap" in recent years has come to also refer to the state within the Federated States of Micronesia, inclusive of the Yap Main Islands and its various outer islands.

The Yap Main Islands is considered to be made up of four separate islands: Yap Island proper (Marbaq), Gagil-Tamil, Maap (Yapese: Maap′), and Rumung. The four are contiguous, though separated by water, and are surrounded by a common coral reef. They are formed from an uplift of the Philippine Sea Plate, and are referred to as "high" islands as opposed to atolls. The land is mostly rolling hills, densely vegetated. Mangrove swamps line much of the shore, although there are beaches on the northern sides of the islands. Excluding the reef area, Yap is approximately 24 kilometres long, 5-10 kilometres wide, and 98 km2. The highest elevation is 178 meters at Mount Taabiywol in Fanif municipality on Yap island proper. The Yapese people's indigenous cultures and traditions are strong compared to other states in Micronesia.

Colonia is the capital of the State of Yap which includes the Yap Main Islands and the Yap Neighboring Islands - the outer islands (mostly atolls) reaching to the east and south from the Yap Main Islands for some 800 kilometres, namely the atolls of Eauripik, Elato, Faraulep, Gaferut, Ifalik, Lamotrek, Ngulu, Olimarao, Piagailoe (West Fayu), Pikelot, Sorol, Ulithi, and Woleai, as well as the islands of Fais and Satawal (see map). Historically, a tributary system existed between the Neighboring Islands and the Yap Main Islands. This probably related to the need for goods from the high islands, including food, as well as wood for construction of seagoing vessels.

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Geography

The state of Yap consists of 134 islands and atolls. Twenty two of these are populated, stretching across an excess of 250,000 square kilometres in total area. Yap's main island is made up of four high volcanic islands, accounting for 38 of Yap’s approximate total 50 square miles of land area. The main island of Yap is where the state capital and commercial center, Colonia, is located. Most of the outer islands stretching approximately 1,000 kilometres east of Yap Island are coral atolls. These atolls are sparsely populated by people different from the Yapese in both culture and language.

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Sights and Activities

  • The island is famous for its stone money, which is rather large and cannot easily be moved. The island was opened for tourism in 1989 and has seen a good amount of tourists visiting, especially for the scuba diving and to catch a glimpse of the traditional Micronesian island culture.
  • Scuba Diving is a major drawcard throughout Yap. There are many suba diving sites in Microneasia.
  • Snorkelling is a good alternative for those without their diving licenses. There are numerous good places to snorkel throughout Yap.

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Events and Festivals

  • Yap Day - March 01. The biggest of the island of Yap’s many mitmit feasts takes place on the first weekend in March. Each village on Yap takes turns hosting this unique festival which has only recently been open to visitors outside the island. Yap Day is most famous for the intricate dances the villagers practice throughout the year and perform only once in a lifetime. The brightly dressed villagers perform stick dances, standing dances, sitting dances, and kneeling dances. The Yap Visitors Bureau hosts a reception during the festival’s final days and pays special honor to the guest who has traveled the longest distance to attend.
  • FSM Constitution Day - Each of the Federated States of Micronesia have their own constitution day holidays, but the entire island nations celebrates the date, May 10, on which the country’s national constitution was founded in 1979. This is not really a lively festival, but rather a day of rest and relaxation which Micronesians spend at shopping centers and parks on this day off from school and work.
  • FSM Independence Day - This November 3 holiday celebrates the nation’s sovereignty and accomplishments since its liberation from its colonizers. Independence Day is marked by all kinds of festive events with music, overflowing feasts and cultural presentations.
  • FSM Veterans of Foreign War - Observed November 11, this highly patriotic day in Micronesia commemorates the contributions of veterans who served in the US Armed Forces during the Foreign Wars.
  • United Nations Day - Few places celebrate United Nations Day with more fervor than the Pacific Islands of Micronesia. The island of Yap, in particular, marks each October 24 by closing all government offices, schools, and virtually all businesses. Fairs serving foods around the world and international cultural performances also fill this day celebrating the anniversary of the United Nations charter.
  • Liberation Day - September 11 remains a day of celebration on the Pacific Islands of Micronesia, whose citizens still associate this date as the anniversary of the United States WWII victory over Japan.
  • Tree Planting Day - As part of the forestry program in the Federated States of Micronesia, a tree-planting day is observed on June 1 each year in accordance with environmental week and Earth Day.
  • Micronesian Culture and Traditions Day - Established to celebrate Micronesia’s cultural and traditional heritage, this day is honored on March 31 every year.

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Weather

The climate in Yap is tropical, with temperatures relatively even at about 27 °C throughout the year during the day and rarely below 21 °C at night. In general, the wet season lasts from July to November, when typhoons can strike the islands as well. The better season for a visit probably is the dry season from December to April.

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Getting There

By Plane

United Airlines offers flights to Yap a few times a week from Guam and Palau. Certain Palau flights continue on to Manila.

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

Taxis are plentiful in Colonia, and travelers are free to use the public bus system in Colonia to get around. These busses are often used to transport students and government workers and run between Colonia and the outer villages in early mornings and evenings, and cost roughly $1USD.

By Car

Rental cars are also available through a number of businesses located within walking distance of hotels in Colonia. Prices range from about $38.00 - $60.00 USD per day.

By Boat

While on Yap, visitors may charter boats to the outlying Islands, which can be taken care of at a variety of places on the island.

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Eat

Yap offers a variety of restaurants, with most found in the Colonia area. Currently in Colonia, you can choose between; O'Keefe's ($5.00 lunch specials include tea, rice, cabbage salad, soup and meat), Manta Ray Bar & Grill (aboard the converted Indonesian phinisi schooner SV Mnuw, behind the Manta Ray resort - great food at a reasonable price and if you eat on Wednesday or Friday night, you may catch a movie!), Ganir (more local style with a raised veranda style dining area), ESA (German cook with a variety of options priced very well) and Trader's Ridge (more great food and still reasonable). Outside of the Colonia area you will find other eating options scattered including a beach house with Japanese food. Be sure to inquire about getting a taste of the local food, which includes 3 types of crab, shrimp, lobster, tuna, wahoo, snapper and much more; and yes, Yapese do eat fruit bats.

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Drink

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Sleep

Travelers should just reserve the first night at the hotel. Look around in Colonia the next day if you would prefer to switch to another hotel!

  • Manta Ray Bay Hotel - One of the larger hotels on Yap. Here you can make arrangements to scuba dive, and view the Manta Rays that the waters around the island are famous for. Manta Ray Bay Hotel also owns and operates the Manta Ray Bar & Grill aboard the converted Indonesian phinisi schooner SV Mnuw.
  • Yap Pacific Dive Resort - The hotel is on the site of the original pre-war Japanese command post. Good service, nice outside area with swimming pool and restaurant.
  • ESA Bayview Hotel - A family owned and operated hotel located in the heart of Colonia.
  • O'Keefe's Waterfront Inn - A very private and stylish guest house, right on Yap's waterfront.
  • Home Stays - Home stays with a local family or in a room in a Yapese house, bungalows or men's house, in Colonia or other parts, villages and beaches of Yap and Ulithi Atolls are possible.
  • Pathways Hotel - Nine individual cottages elevated on a hillside and overlooking the bay. Interconnected by elevated walkways, these enclosed wood and thatch-roofed cottages are clean, comfortable, and include a small private balcony. Pathways Hotel also operates a full service restaurant.
  • Village View Resort - Wacholab, Maap (30 Minutes North of Colonia), ☎ +691 350-4679, e-mail: villageview@mail.fm. Yap's only beach-front resort with a full restaurant, bar, and diveshop. Free pickup/dropoff to airport. Rooms have 110V, AC, mini-fridge, hot water. Rates start at $65/night for single occupancy; $75/night for double; $85/night triple. Village View is the only hotel not within Colonia. Some travelers will prefer the relative isolation and private beaches, while others may prefer to be within walking distance of other hotels and restaurants. $65+.

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This is version 6. Last edited at 8:03 on Jul 19, 17 by Utrecht. 10 articles link to this page.

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