Pohnpei is the South Sea Island you imagine. It is easy to feel like James Michener or Robert Louis Stevenson cruising around the islands of Pohnpei State, the largest state and capital of the Federated States of Micronesia. Pohnpei is lush, green, big and beautiful. Pohnpei has varying sights and much to do. If you only have 2 days in Pohnpei, you will be busy I assure you. Here is the best way to spend 2 days in Pohnpei.
The first thing I did upon check in at the Village Hotel in Pohnpei was arrange a taxi with my Uncle David and some Czech guys we had met to hike up to Sokehs Rock.
Sokehs Rock is reminiscent of Diamond Head in Honolulu but with a few major differences. The best part of hiking up to Sokehs Rock was stopping along the way to see some old World War II relics.
It is a relatively steep hike up to Sokehs ridge that leads to the best view point of Pohnpei. At the point where the hill meets the ridge is a turnoff that contains abandoned old Japanese anti-aircraft guns, naval guns, pillboxes, bunkers and tunnels. It is like a living museum of World War II.
What’s ironic about Pohnpei is that it is one of the islands that the US armed forces passed on so there were no actual battles on Pohnpei. So the Japanese soldiers stationed on Pohnpei were either very lucky or very bored, as they saw no action.
After sweating up to Sokehs, head down to the biggest town in Micronesia, Kolonia, and stock up on some supplies and food. Kolonia itself is an OK place to check out. It isn’t much to look at but has some interesting buildings and even a baseball field. It is more of a ramshackle kind of town with locals lazing about and spitting betel nut.
On day two, we did an island boat tour which included some snorkeling, waterfall viewing and of course a visit to one of the best archaeological sights in all the Pacific, Nan Madol. It was a great day.
I must say the snorkeling (and I have heard the diving) is not very good on Pohnpei, especially by Micronesian standards. We were brought to a place called Manta Ray alley and the visibility was terrible and the current was rough. It was by far the least favorite part of the whole day tour.
Next we ate lunch on a small island in the middle of the Pohnpei State lagoon. That is always fun and it gave us a chance to get to know the other members of our group a little; plus the views and the water were excellent.
After lunch we headed over to Kepirohi Waterfall. It was fantastic. Really it was fabulous and perfect. It was about a 10-minute hike up to the waterfall from where the boat docked. The waterfall is 21 meters high and has a perfect swimming pool at the base. It was the perfect place to hop in and chill for a while.
Not to mention the free massage you could get by placing yourself against the rocks at the base of the waterfall. I must’ve sat there for like 30 minutes just basking! The views of the falls aren’t bad either. We were then joined by some local kids that decided to entertain us. They actually climbed up the falls then flipped and jumped back into the pool below. It was a lot of fun.
Then we made our way over to Nan Madol when the tides were right after about 3pm. Nan Madol is a mysterious place that is the best site in all of Micronesia. It has been estimated that it may be as much as 1000 years old and it is constructed on nearly 100 islets.
Nan Madol has a main islet where the majority of the site is still in tact. It is a fascinating site to walk around and try to figure out its mysteries. Wide basalt pillars are constructed in an interesting way and some of them are as long as 7.5 meters.
After walking around the main site, the best way to view the remaining islets is by kayak. The tour will include that option and I highly recommend it. You will see the ruins along the water and you will also pass over some manta rays in the shallow narrow canals between the islets. It is a magical site to see and it would be a crime not to visit Nan Madol if you’re in Pohnpei.
If you’re sitting there reading this saying you’ve never heard of Nan Madol, I totally understand. It is not a well-known site at all. It is not even world heritage listed; which is a travesty and says something about the politics of the UNESCO list. But I view that as even better for us that we get to see it alone, without tourists and the high costs that come with a major tourist site. Nan Madol is one of the most underrated sites in all of the Pacific if not the world.
So as you can probably tell, I loved Pohnpei. 2 days in Pohnpei is not enough but it is the perfect amount of time to see what you need to see. Micronesia is a special place and I didn’t think I could like any of the islands more than I liked Yap, but I think Pohnpei has done that for me.
I also must note that my hotel, The Village Hotel, has closed its doors by the time you read this. March 31, 2013 was their last day operating after some 41 years. It has been one of the staple hotels in the Pacific islands and is the single best hotel in all of Micronesia. I was chatting with the very nice owners who are devastated. I hope a miracle saves the hotel and allows them to keep living and working on Pohnpei. I guess we will see.
2 Days in Pohnpei
April 1, 2013 by 22 Comments