over 7.5 million square miles of the western Pacific Ocean, the tiny islands that comprise Micronesia barely even show up on most globes. But these islands-including Palau, Yap, Truk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, the Marshall Islands, Guam, Rota and Saipan-are massive in the dive world, esteemed for their pristine reefs, life-covered walls, World War II wrecks and extraordinarily diverse marine life. If there were a pantheon of the world's greatest dive sites, Micronesia's islands would occupy a disproportionate number of the slots.
The islands of Palau are rimmed by a barrier reef that separates shallow reef lagoons from sheer walls and shelters one of the richest marine ecosystems on the planet. The boat rides to many of Palau's top dive sites pass through the iconic Rock Islands, a spectacular journey in itself. Yap has a reputation as the most consistent destination for manta sightings, but this island group has plenty of other logbook-worthy dive experiences-including shark encounters, caverns, walls and special twilight dives to observe the elusive mandarinfish. Truk Lagoon has the greatest concentration of diveable shipwrecks on earth, at least 70 in the lagoon alone. Pohnpei offers drift diving at drop-offs outside passes along its barrier reef. The reefs of Kosrae are superb, of a quality you'd expect when diving a lush and remote island. The scattered dry islets and atolls of the Marshall Islands feature sites that are seldom dived, including Ahnd Atoll, and better-known sites like Kwajalein Atoll. As the gateway to Micronesia, Guam is often overlooked by divers, but shouldn't be; it's got great shore diving concentrated around Agat Bay and Apra Harbor. The Northern Marianas-Rota and Saipan-are known for shore diving, crystal-clear water and hard coral gardens.
Tropical and humid with daytime temperatures in the mid- to high 80s. Nighttime temps can drop to the mid- to low 70s.
Consistently in the high 70s to mid-80s all year.
More than 100 feet of vis is not uncommon off Palau, Saipan and Rota, off Pohnpei and Kosrae's outer reefs and on Yap's wall dives. Vis can be slightly lower in Truk lagoon and on manta dives in Yap.
The U.S. dollar.
Micronesia spans two time zones. Palau is 14 hours ahead of New York; Yap, Truk (Chuuk) and the Northern Marianas are 15 hours ahead; Pohnpei is 16 hours ahead; Kosrae and the Marshall Islands are 17 hours ahead.
110 volts, 60 cycles, same as the United States.
A passport is recommended for U.S. citizens, but a birth certificate and photo ID are accepted. Each island airport has its own customs and immigration officers. If you plan on visiting several islands on one trip, you will be passing through customs and immigration lines at each stop.
Departure taxes vary by island: $20 for Palau and Marshall Islands; $15 for Truk; $10 for Pohnpei and Kosrae; no departure tax for Guam, Yap and the Northern Marianas. Some islands require a dive permit.