6 Things You Can Strike Off Your Bucket List By Visiting Yap
One of the four Federated States of Micronesia, Yap is a fascinating place to add to your bucket list. Known as the Island of Stone Money, incredibly, this place uses huge stone discs as its currency – many of them which are too heavy to move! However, there’s much more to the island than this unusual custom – with fascinating culture and epic outdoor activities at hand.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the best things you can do in Yap. We’re convinced that you’ll soon be booking your flights!
Meet the Pacific’s most unique island culture
Stone money is just one of the many unique aspects of Yap’s fascinating island culture. Another valuable form of money on the island is a Gaw – a necklace made of shells and whale teeth. While Gaw is reserved for the chiefs, shell money is much more accessible. There are four kinds of “yar” which are used for celebrations, apologies, and to pay for local medicine. Don’t worry about showing up to Yap with no stones or shell money – the official currency is the US Dollar.
Be sure when visiting Yap to also get involved with the colourful and exciting side of its culture. There are festivals throughout the year including Yap Day on the 1st and 2nd of March which celebrated everything to do with the island’s culture and traditions; Homecoming Festival, which celebrates ties with Palau; and the Canoe Festival which celebrates Yapese canoe culture.
Swim with sharks
As you may have gathered from its position in the South Pacific, one of the most popular things to do in Yap is scuba diving. Its warm and clear waters have one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, and you’ll see a whole host of underwater wildlife.
If you’re feeling brave, you may want to swim with sharks and there’s nowhere better to do that than Yap. You can see sharks at almost every dive site in Yap – and don’t worry, we’re not talking Great Whites or Tigers, but more sedate Grey Reef, Blacktip Reef, and Whitetip Reef sharks.
If you’d like to feed sharks, you can do so at Vertigo Reef. They’ll be focused on bait rather than you, so there’s no need to be scared.
Walk down thousand year-old stone paths
Back on land, there are several hiking and biking trails that you can navigate to get to know more of Yap. One of the most popular is the two-hour Tamilyog Trail which runs right through the centre of the island. It’s a two hour hike and you’ll spot local flora and fauna such as birds the Yap Monarch and Plain White Eye.
However, there’s a much easier hike which will get you acquainted with the island’s rich historical past. Hikes in Colonia are centred on ancient stone paths where you will pass stone money and even stone banks! Be sure to take your camera as you will see some sights that are like nowhere else on earth.
Sail in a traditional canoe
Canoeing is a huge part of Yap’s culture. Their sailing canoes are celebrated every year with a special festival which involves racing, canoe building, and more. However, you can take a ride in a traditional Yapese canoe at any time of the year.
You can ride through Yap’s mangrove forests, or watch the sunset from the island’s clear and tranquil lagoon. Should you be interested in kayaking or canoeing, many hotels and accommodation providers can help you arrange tours.
Dive with Manta Rays
Yes, you’ve already seen that you can dive with sharks in Yap, but that’s not all. The island is surrounded by a designated protected area which protects manta rays across 16 islands and 145 islets 12 miles off the island of Yap. Eco-tourists should have this right at the top of their bucket list – the pollution-free waters are a wonderful opportunity to watch these graceful creatures glide through the waters of the sanctuary.
Manta ray sightings are guaranteed at pretty much any time of the year, and your dive tours will head to beautifully named spots such as Lionfish Wall, The Yap Caverns, and the Valley of the Rays.
Go Stand up Paddle Boarding
Yap has a large lagoon, and another awesome way to experience it is on top of a stand up paddle board. Unlike a canoe, you’ll be standing on a flat board and using a paddle to propel you across the waters. One of the most relaxing sports there is, SUP gets your brain’s happy chemicals flowing just that little bit quicker – so it’ll perfectly complement all the other fun activities you do in Yap. As an eco-friendly activity, SUP also causes minimum disturbance to wildlife so it’s a guilt-free way to explore the waters in and around Yap.