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Micronesia: Ulithi, Yap, and Palau

Snorkel Micronesia's stunning reefs and experience vibrant local cultures on this one-of-a-kind multinational expedition. Our partnership with the people of Ulithi Atoll gives you special access to this island paradise.

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Overview

  • Miles of healthy coral reefs in crystal clear water showcasing a diverse landscape of marine life including sea turtles, sharks, and manta rays.
  • Visits to the famous Jellyfish Lake and Rock Islands (Palau), a new manta ray sanctuary (Yap), and sea turtle nesting beaches (Ulithi).
  • Our partnership with the people of Ulithi Atoll gives you special access.

Note: Due to recent natural disasters in Ulithi Atoll that have impacted tourism infrastructure, we will not be able to visit Ulithi during our 2017 departure.

Our multi-country exploration of the western Pacific will expose you to the pristine reefs, clear waters, tropical landscapes, and vibrant cultural traditions that have lured adventurers here for centuries.

Miles of coral reefs with white sand beaches, secluded lagoons, sea turtles, sea birds, and clear waters that abound with coral and colorful tropical fish are some of the reasons to visit remote Ulithi Atoll. Located northeast of Yap, Ulithi consists of one of the world's largest lagoons surrounded by 36 tropical isles, four of which are inhabited. A former military base, Ulithi only recently opened for public use and we invite you be pioneers exploring this breathtaking area.

Our 12-day coral sea adventure begins with five days exploring Palau's unique Rock Islands, beautiful green mushroom-shaped islets set in an azure lagoon. We visit the best shallow water snorkeling sites within the coral lagoon while experiencing the wonder of "rainbow's end."

We then continue to Yap, known as the best place to see manta rays on a consistent basis. The reefs and channels surrounding the landmass are home to a spectacular array of fish and corals.

The Yapese and the Ulithi communities continue to practice their traditional lifestyles, and our program will include a cultural tour and opportunities to see the local crafts of the island.

From Yap, we fly to the remote coral atoll of Ulithi, home to nesting hawksbill and green sea turtles, coconut crabs, and seabirds such as frigates and boobies. Our comfortable beachfront lodge on Falalop Island offers beach snorkeling, and serves as a base for coral reef snorkeling excursions and day trips to Turtle and Lizard Islands. The idyllic lagoon is teeming with life and the reefs are so pristine that you will feel like one of the first to have explored them.

Wildlife Highlights

Micronesia is known to have 300 species of corals and 1,000 species of fish, and we will make every effort to explore this region's renowned biodiversity on our multi-country journey. With many of the locations we visit under some form of protection, many species that are threatened or absent in other areas can be found regularly here including manta rays, sharks, sea turtles, abundant and large reef fish, giant clams, and much more. The colorful soft and hard corals on the reefs are so pristine in some places that you might think you are the first to explore them, and nudibranchs and other invertebrates are found in abundance. On land we can see several seabird species and unique island inhabitants such as fruit bats and coconut crabs.

Trip Dates & Cost

2018: May 8–20. $4,995 per person.* Group limit 14.

* Single supplement fee $800. Trip price does not include international airfare. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions.

Photos
Naturalist

Jon Rulmal Jr. is a native of Ulithi Atoll who holds a bachelor of business administration from Hawai'i Pacific University. He has studied and worked in the tourism industry for many years, and is manager of Ulithi Adventure Lodge on Falalop Island. Jon is also project supervisor of the Ulithi Marine Turtle Project, and is actively involved in advancing community-driven marine resource conservation in Ulithi Atoll.

Keoki Stender is a native Hawaiian photographer, educator, diving industry specialist, and owner of marinelifephotography.com, a popular species identification resource for Hawaii and beyond. He studied marine science and botany at the University of Hawaii and shares this passion as a guest speaker and volunteer educator for many organizations. Keoki is a PADI scuba instructor with more than 25 years of experience in the dive industry.

Samantha Whitcraft holds a bachelor in Natural Sciences from Harvard University and earned her master of Marine Affairs and Policy at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. As a conservation biologist, she has worked with National Geographic, WildAid and local communities to research and develop sustainable ecotourism and "citizen science." A resident of Florida, her fieldwork has taken her to the Amazon, Kiribati, the Bahamas, Fiji, and the Galapagos.

Itinerary

Note: Due to recent natural disasters in Ulithi Atoll that have impacted tourism infrastructure, we will not be able to visit Ulithi during our 2017 departure.

Days 0-1: Honolulu - Koror, Palau | Arrival
Flights bound for Palau from the U.S. typically depart from Honolulu and connect in Guam. Since you will be crossing the International Date Line, you will have to leave a day early to arrive on time. Once you arrive in Koror, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Days 2-5: Koror | Snorkeling the Rock Islands, Jellyfish Lake, & City Tour
During the first few days of our program we will make daily boat excursions to visit snorkel sites throughout the Rock Islands. Typically we will visit multiple snorkeling sites in the morning, enjoy lunch and a short break on an isolated beach in the Rock Islands, and then visit more snorkeling sites in the afternoon. On one of the days we will also visit Jellyfish Lake. Our final full day in Palau will include of a half day city-tour followed by a traditional Palauan lunch.

Day 6: Koror - Yap | Manta Ray Snorkeling
We will take an early morning flight to Yap, which is located midway between Palau and Guam. After a late breakfast, we will snorkel to search for manta rays and to explore the coral reefs of Yap. Snorkeling times and locations are determined by the times of the tides.

Day 7: Yap - Ulithi Atoll | Snorkeling
We will take a short morning flight to Falalop Island in Ulithi Atoll. After lunch, we'll enjoy a beach snorkel along the island’s fringing reef.

Days 8–10: Ulithi Atoll | Snorkeling & Sea Turtles
We will have 3 full days to snorkel the pristine waters and coral reefs of Ulithi Atoll. We will likely be the only visitors on the entire atoll. We will also visit seabird and turtle nesting sites at the remote Turtle Islands.

Day 11: Ulithi - Yap | Shark Snorkeling
We will take the short flight back to Yap, and do an afternoon blue-water snorkel in search of sharks.

Day 12: Yap | Cultural Tour
Our last day will start with a half-day cultural tour to explore one of the nearby Yapese villages and stone money banks. The afternoon is free for individual exploration.

Day 13: Yap - Honolulu | Departure
Participants will have an early morning departure, and fly back to Honolulu, via Guam. Since you will be crossing the International Date Line, you will gain a day on your route home. (Those departing on May 21 will arrive back to Honolulu the evening of May 20).

Accommodations

In Palau and Yap, guests will stay in comfortable hotels with double-occupancy rooms, air conditioning, and private baths. In Ulithi, participants will stay on the only guest lodge on the atoll, Ulithi Adventure Lodge. Private rooms will be clean, basic, with private baths and air conditioning. In Ulithi, all meals will be prepared for the group and served on the lodge patio.

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