Pohnpei Island Snorkeling
The 7th most popular snorkel dive spot in Micronesia.
Monday 10 September 2018 07:02 GMT
In the Federated States of Micronesia, the snorkeling at Pohnpei Island is best known for its coral reef formations. But the best reefs are all out along the barrier reef. While snorkeling off Pohnpei Island, you may encounter manta rays, sharks, barracudas and large schools of trevallies.
Pohnpei is well known for its heavy rainfall on this lush, green island. There is a continuous flow of sediment from the many streams and rivers that feed an extensive mangrove lagoon thus resulting in reduced visibility along the coastline. The main snorkeling spots are all offshore along the inner edge of the barrier reef and in the channels where manta rays migrate. So, you’ll need to hire a boat or use a kayak to access these spots. But, it’s worth the effort and you’ll be treated to visibility up to 100 feet. The only exceptions to the coastal snorkeling on Pohnpei are the Awak Pah Marine Park and the Pein Ahi Marine Park, which are both on the north coast to the southeast of the airport.
Off the north coast to the north of Kolonia, Sapwtik Island is within the Sapwtik Marine Protected Area and has good snorkeling among the reefs off the end of its wharf. The visibility and marine life diversity gets better and better further from shore while following the reef.
Off the northeast coast, Nahpali Island has good snorkeling off the northwest corner to the north of the wharf. There is a steep reef wall with good water clarity. The east side of the island has dense mangrove forest preventing offshore snorkeling.
Off the east coast, the snorkeling at Nahnningi Island is popular for green sea turtles, sharks and eagle rays. Also known as Joy Island, the best snorkeling is in the shallow coral gardens on the east and northeast coasts. To the southeast of the island, there is a pool near the edge of the fringing reef that is open to ocean water providing habitat to larger diverse fish. This pool is within the Namwen Nahnningi Stingray Sanctuary where large numbers of stingrays hang out. This pool is best during the summer months which have calmer surf.
Also along the east coast, you may want to check out the snorkeling on the west side of Nahkapw Island out to the Pahn Nahkapw Wall, the Kepindausiso Wall off Dekehtik Island, the Namwen Na Stingray Sanctuary in the deep pool between Na Island and Nahpali Island, the north coast of Na Island, the west side of Nahpali Island.
Off the south coast, there are two islands worth snorkeling. First, there is a free boat taxi to Nahlap Island Resort (call in advance) where there is good snorkeling to the north and west of the island. Second, the snorkeling off Rainbow Island is known for its hard and soft coral formations. There are a variety of sponges, too. Look for the plentiful parrotfish, surgeonfish, unicornfish and sea turtles.
Off the southwest coast, the snorkeling at Kehpara Island is popular for shark encounters. You may see silvertip sharks, black-tipped reef sharks and white-tipped reef sharks.
Even further offshore, there are two atolls outside of the barrier reef that are worth exploring. To the southwest is the unihabited And Atoll, which is a Marine Protected Area. There you will find plenty of butterflyfish, angelfish, moorish idoes, moray eels, surgeonfish, wrasses and triggerfish along with giant clams. The primary snorkel boat tour operator is the Pohnpei Surf Club. And, to the northwest, there is Pakin Atoll, which also has several Marine Protected Areas. While there is good snorkeling on inside the Atoll, it is difficult for boats to find a safe passage so many trips only offer dives on the outside of the barrier. While at Pakin Atoll, you may encounter sea turtles, dolphins, sharks and barracuda. Again, the primary snorkel boat tour operator is the Pohnpei Surf Club.
Pohnpei has over 10 Marine Protected Areas spread around the island. It is important for you to know where these areas are located and to know if you are entering one. If you plan to enter a Marine Protected Area, you need to posses a permit, which can be obtained from the Pohnpei Division Of Forestry And Marine Conservation once you submit the application form. Their office is lcoated inside the state government building on Dolen Kutoahr Street in Kolonia Town.
Once on Pohnpei, it is best to rent a car to explore the island. While cars can be rented at the airport, they are also typically available at the hotels, including 7 Stars Inn and Mangrove Bay Hotel. After a long day of snorkeling, make sure to by Cupid's Bar for a refreshing island drink. To reach the snorkeling at Pohnpei, you will need to fly into Pohnpei International Airport (PNI). The main flight is serve by the infamous United flight 154 between Honolulu and Guam, which stops at several islands along the route. This flight operates 3 days a week including Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you'd like a view when landing, make sure to get a seat in Rows 1 to 10 with preferably Seat A. Should you make use of United flight 154, keep in mind that it runs between Honolulu (HNL) to Majuro in Marshall Islands (MAJ) to Kosrae (KSA) to Pohnpei (PNI) to Chuuk (TKK) and then Guam (GUM), so plan to stop at one or more of the islands overnight for some snorkeling, too.
Overall, Pohnpei Island is the 7th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 9 snorkeling dives in Micronesia.