Pohnpei is an island that is one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia.
Pohnpei is the capital of FSM (the FSM Federal Buildings and offices are in Palikir). Kolonia is the capital of Pohnpei State.
Pohnpei is the largest of the islands in the Federated States of Micronesia. It is roughly circular and about 60 miles (100 km) around.
Pohnpei is the most developed of the four states in Micronesia.
Pohnpei is also one of the rainiest inhabited place in the world. With about 300 in (7,600 mm) of rain per year at the higher elevations and 150 in (3,800 mm) at the waterfront, and no dry season, expect it to rain every day, with alternating patches of sun, clouds, and rain. However, since the temperature hovers around 85°F (about 27°C), the rain is never seen as much of a nuisance, and most people walk around without umbrellas or other rain gear. Rain can often be seen as a relief, because it cools the weather down a few degrees and keeps the humidity from feeling oppressive.
The northern end of the island has most of the population, and the city of Kolonia. There are no well-defined boundaries to the city, and the townships are all quite near each other. There is a ring road that circles the island. Most people live on the ring road.
The regional language of Pohnpei is Pohnpeian. However, most people learn English as well. Outside of the capital and the college, most people only have rudimentary English skills, and once you get into the villages, only Pohnpeian is spoken, by and large. The older population has more proficiency in Japanese, the language of the occupation during their childhood.
United Airlines is the only airline with flights to Micronesia. They offer an island-hopper flight, which goes East to West on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and West to East on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The airport is small, and most checking on the islands is done by hand, so expect to have all of your luggage (carry-on or check-in) hand-searched. Because of this, check-in generally happens at least an hour before boarding, even though there are never huge numbers of people at the airport.
Intrepid travelers arrive on their sailboats to visit Pohnpei. There is a very nice lagoon for sailboats.
Street names are not generally used to give directions. There are no addresses. There is only one main road and it is pretty easy to get around. If you are lost, locals know where practically everything is and are happy to give directions.
There are some car rentals available in Pohnpei. The roads are in fair to poor condition, and potholes are common. Cars will drive on the wrong side of the road to avoid potholes. It is acceptable to pass a slow moving car anywhere there is enough space. At night many drivers are intoxicated on Sakau and tend to drive very slowly. They also drive incomprehensibly slowly during the day. There is little in the way of direction signs.
There are also taxis, which are relatively cheap. A taxi ride in Kolonia will cost $1 per person. Prices increase the farther you go outside of Kolonia.
Walking is easy, as there are few distances within the Kolonia area which are more than a couple of miles away. Many people walk around town. Dogs may nip at you if you make too much eye contact with them.
Sokehs Rock is a massive rock outcropping. A hiking trail leads to the top for a panoramic view over the island. There are some World War II-era Japanese guns at the top. Nan Madol is a must-see. The ruins of a thousand-year-old royal city. The ruins are on artificial islands, and it has been called "the Venice of the Pacific". The Spanish Wall in the capital, Kolonia, is all that remains of the old Spanish fort.
Pohnpei has 42 rivers and streams fed from Nahnalaud, which is the highest peak in Micronesia giving a stunning different varieties of waterfalls.
- Dive and snorkel Pohnpei has very good diving and snorkeling. The diving here mostly along reefs. There is decent diving and snorkeling from Nahlap Resort. You will need a boat for the best diving spots on the island.
- Kayak Sea Breeze hotel rents kayaks. The rate is $2 per hour. Coco Marina, across the street, also rents Kayaks.
- See Mangrove Forests There are no natural beaches. Instead of beaches the island is surrounded by a belt of mangrove swamp. Travelers will find that there is not obvious access to the ocean in Kolonia. There is public access to the water a Nett Point.
- Nahlap Resort Built on top of a reef in Kitti Municipality, Nahlap features about 10 spartan cabins. Nahlap is about a 45-minute drive from Kolonia. There is an unmarked turn down a dirt road, off of the ring road to get to Nahlap. During low tide there is enough sand to spread out and get the beach experience. You can dive and snorkel from here, but you will need your own equipment. This resort offers overnight cabins, and day use cabins, all with BBQ pits. There is a shared restroom. Nahlap runs a water taxi to the resort that is $5 per person, round trip. The use fee is about $3 per person to rent a cabin. Kayaks can be rented for a couple of dollars. There is a Sunday discount.
Pohnpei's surf season generally goes from late October until April but there are occasional good waves other times of year in other spots.
Pohnpei has been featured in many surf magazines from all over the world over, and as a result there are times when heavy crowds swarm the best breaks. Other times, though, it remains a quiet and uncrowded island for surfers.
To get to the best waves in Pohnpei you will need to get a ride from one of the many local fishermen with boats.
You can easily check to see if there are waves from the hotels in town. South Park Hotel sits above Kolonia harbor and faces directly north toward Main Pass, Center Channel and gives a peak of Lighthouse Pass. Ocean View Hotel, aptly named, has clear views to the reef line on the north side of the island which provide a full indicator of what the swell is doing.
A short drive to Nan Pohnmal (5 minutes) west of town where the U.S. Embassy housing complex is located provides a clear view of the entire NW reef including Palikir Pass which is easily seen from the bluff top vista.
The local crew recommends NIHCO Marine Park which is in Sekere along the north western shore of the lagoon at the closest point of land to Palikir Pass. Locally owned, NIHCO has the best accommodations and the newest boats and surf tourist accommodations in Pohnpei.
There are about ten restaurants to eat at on Pohnpei. At most you can expect lunches from about $6.50 or $7, and dinners between $12 and $20.
- Coco Marina. Owned by the Neime Company, it is a restaurant with an extensive menu of local and American standards, and the only place on the island to get a proper Caesar Salad. The Hawaiian-style poke is definitely something to try and the chef, formerly from San Diego, knows how to do a burrito the right way. The menu also features steaks and produce, fresh from Hawaii, and the fish is always fresh. The bar is well-stocked and drinks are potent and inexpensive. It's in Kolonia, across the street from the Australian Embassy and Sea Breeze Hotel. +691 320-5631.
- The China Star Restaurant down by the shipping port is by far the Best restaurant on the island. The cooks are from China and most dishes have fresh veggies. Meals are between $8 and $16. +691 320-6849
- The Joy Hotel and Restaurant is known for its Joy Lunch, a Japanese-style set lunch of fried fish, tuna sashimi, rice, salad, and soup. They also serve local snacks like breadfruit and banana chips as a free appetizer. You can get it at dinner there, as well. Joy lunch is $7.50. Joy dinner as around $10 a plate. +691 320-2447
- PCR / Nanchelik PCR has a river view and a Japanese revolving lazy susan, where you sit and pick off the dishes you like- sashimi, sushi, fried fish and chicken, seafood spaghetti, etc. All you can eat lunch (which usually includes sashimi and cucumber rolls) is $6.50. +691 320-5444
- SEI restaurant is known for its buffet lunch, which, at $6.99, has all-you-can-eat sashimi, rice, and fritters, among other things. Architecture alone is worth a visit. +691 320-4266
- Angie's "Fast Food", right next to the now defunct Peppermill, has food which isn't really fast. However, they do have burgers and fries, and cheap prices. +691 320-1480
- The Orchid Located at Ocean View Hotel, it is reasonably priced and has great view. +691 320-3075
- Cliff Rainbow Restaurant has a Joy Lunch style set but their best lunch is the seafood spaghetti! Their pizza is also the best on the island, but you have to specifically ask them for the pizza menu, as they do not hand it out for some reason. And don't forget the fried ice cream! +691 320-2415
- Cupid's Bar and Grill enjoys a fantastic view over the ocean - ideal for sunset. Food is very good, choose the fresh tuna.
- Club Flamingo - the only nightclub on the island. $3 cover. Open on the weekends, after 10PM, the party can go on until 3 in the morning. Don't get caught on the dance floor after a song ends!
- Sakau en Pohnpei - many people around Pohnpei enjoy anesthetizing themselves with a goopy concoction known as sakau (a.k.a. kava). Try some and you'll understand why people say "like the feeling, not the taste." There are numerous sakau bars (markets) around town. 'Green Bay' is a popular sakau bar. The atmosphere at the market is very quiet and low key. The price is usually $7 for all you can drink in a shared cup. For about $10 you can get a personal cup.
Handicrafts such as wood carvings, woven baskets, and wall hangings (often incorporating shells and small wood carvings) are made by the local population. As well as purchasing these, you can watch them being made.
The island is remarkably safe. Respect the local culture and you'll be OK. There are some problems with petty crime, particularly thefts from vehicles. Do not leave valuables on display.