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After having gone ga-ga over Pohnpei, I wouldn’t think I would have been as impressed with Kosrae, but I was.
My stay on Kosrae was at the Kosrae Village which was very similar, at least in construction, to the Village in Pohnpei. All of the structures were built by locals out of local materials in the manner that old Kosraen villages were built. Most of the joints in the buildings were also lashed together which brought out my inner boy scout (I used to work at a scout camp and teach knots and lashing. I can still do them all…)
The inn was owned by an American couple who moved to Korsae 15 years ago to start their own resort and dive shop. I have to say it was one of the most thoughtful places I’ve stayed at on this trip. They had fresh lime juice, coconut oil for bathing, and books about Kosrae in every room. Unlike Pohnpei, on Kosrae I was right on the water so I could hear the surf pretty much all day and night.
The resort was only 10 rooms but had a good sized restaurant, one of the better ones on the island. It was very affordable as well. This wasn’t a big chain hotel resort, you were greeted by the owners and they live there on the property.
My first day I went diving, which I haven’t done since I was in Fiji about two months ago. The reef on Kosrae was magnificent. It was one enormous wall of coral going down to forever. The coral formations were the largest I’ve ever seen. I also got to see a large spotted eagle ray. Our dive did something I haven’t seen in other places that made loads of sense. We just drifted with the current carrying a tethered buoy along with us. The boat up top just followed the buoy and was right where we came up at the surface. In Fiji I had a one dive were we wound up at least a half mile from the boat.
It was also the first dive I have made where I didn’t wear a wet suit. The water temp was 84°F down to 80 feet.
The next day I took a hike into the heart of the island with a couple from Virginia to visit the ancient ruins of Menka. The walk out to Menka took about an hour through rain forest. I took my hiking boots but eventually took them off and used my sandals as we had to cross a stream five times. Our guide was studying botany so knew a fair amount about the plants and trees we saw on the way.
The ruins themselves were not nearly as impressive as Nan Modal. They were mostly piles of stone laid out in squares with a mound in the middle of the square. Our guide assumed they were tombs which I think is a reasonable assumption. I was told that there are many ruins on Kosrae which have yet to be studied by archaeologists. I’d think a promising young archaeologist would take advantage of trips to Micronesia to work on their PhD. I was told there are ruins on the island similar to Nan Modal in structure, but I didn’t get a chance to see those.
Like Pohnpei, Kosrae is one of the real secrets of the Pacific. There are only 8,000 people on the island, great diving, great hiking, nice people, it is affordable and they have several initiatives in place to protect the reef and keep it in a pristine state.