Scuba Diving Yap
The reefs surrounding the islands of Yap are home to a rich diversity of tropical marine life. Most popular is their resident population of manta rays, which divers and snorkelers have a good chance of seeing on an almost daily basis.
Yap is one of the most intriguing islands in Micronesia. It is a land steeped in ancient traditions, fascinating legends, and peopled by one of the most distinctive cultures in the Pacific. Attractions like a handmade seaside men’s house, cultural village tours, huge, ancient stone money discs and stone money banks, dancing, handicraft making, marine life and mangrove forests highlight a visit to this unique outpost.
Dance is an art form in Yap. Through dance, legends are passed down, history is recorded and entertainment is created. The dances of Yap are raucous, colorful and well- orchestrated. Men and women both start at an early age to learn this special Yap tradition. This traditional life carries into the villages where fishing, sailing and weaving are still important parts of everyday life. Grass skirts for the women and thu’us, a type of loincloth, for the men are the basic garb in the small towns that sit in tranquil settings around the island.
The people of Yap are shy but warm. They don’t mind visitors who are respectful and appreciative of their lifestyle. With a little coaxing, the visitor may soon find his or herself helping with a chore, like launching a canoe or weaving a basket to carry coconuts. This special kind of island encounter is not unusual on Yap and is part of the Yapese spirit that makes the island so enticing and enchanting.
There’s plenty to do on land and in the ocean. The visitor can expect to go mountain biking, hike on an ancient stone path or try some deep sea fishing as part of the Yap experience. Or, just take a nap under a coconut tree on one of Yap’s unspoiled beaches.
In addition, Yap is famous for its waters where schools of tuna, dolphins and reef fish are found in abundance. Observing the greatly varied marine life on the reefs and in the channels has become a must for divers around the world. While clear waters and sheer dropoffs certainly describe Yap’s diving, one fact stands above the rest. Yap is the world’s foremost destination for seeing manta rays up close and personal. There is no other place on earth where they can be seen on such a consistent basis year ’round. This fact has catapulted Yap to the top on all lists of the finest diving attractions in the world.
Also part of the Federated States of Micronesia, Yap is a cluster of islands that stretch for 600 miles in the vast Pacific Ocean. Yap proper, a group of four main islands within a barrier reef, is approximately 500 miles southwest of Guam, 300 miles northeast of Palau, and 800 miles due east of Cebu, Philippines. The other islands that comprise the state of Yap extend eastward towards Chuuk, with one atoll about 80 miles to the south. Yap lies just nine degrees north of the Equator.
SCUBA DIVING YAP
This is about the closest it comes to a guarantee for manta encounters. Yap is famous for it’s large population of resident manta rays which you can encounter on a year round basis. Over 100 manta rays live in the waters surrounding Yap. In the winter (usually December to late April) the mantas congregate in even greater numbers in Mi’l Channel (Manta Ray Bay or Manta Ridge) for the mating season when processions of as many as 12 manta rays at one time can be seen cruising back and forth in the channel. During the summer season, they spend their mornings in Goofnuw channel in the Valley of the Rays. Every morning, the huge mantas (sized between 2.5 metres to over 4 metres in width from wing tip to wing tip) cruise into the protected channels that penetrate the barrier reef and slowly circle the cleaning stations, frequently passing within inches of the observing diver’s heads.
However, there’s more to diving in Yap than just the manta rays. From drop-offs to gentle slopes, from channel drifts to the protected confines of the harbor, Yap offers a whole range of diving experiences and is a paradise for the underwater photographer or videographer. Most dive sites in Yap are less than 30 minutes from Colonia Harbor and is almost completely encircled by a fringing reef providing a backdrop for some of the most colourful and diverse marine and pristine coral kingdoms to be found in Micronesia. There is also a Mandarin Fish dive.
DIVING SEASON: The best way to dive Yap is to know what you want to come for and setup your trip during the best season for it – if it’s mantas, then winter time and early spring is the window of most activity. The wetter summer months offer a good possibility of dolphin and pilot-whale encounters.Visibility.
VISIBILITY: 100-plus-foot visibility on the outer reefs. Visibility in the channels swings drastically from more than 100 feet down to just 20 feet.Water
WATER TEMPERATURE: Varies from 80 -86F (26-29C)
WEATHER: The climate in Yap is Tropical – hot and humid. Average year-round temperature is 80 F (27 C), with a 10 F (6 C) variation between night and day. The average water temperature is 81 F (28 C)
SKILL LEVELS: Dives for all skill levels of divers are available
MARINE LIFE: Mantas, of course. Yap has the largest concentration of manta rays in the world, and they are easily accessible to divers. But, there is more than mantas – lots of sharks, schools of bigeye jacks, schools of blackfin barracudas, extremely colorful tropical reef fish, two species of sea turtles, tons of anemones and clownfish plus a tremendous variety of hard corals. If you are interested in extreme close-up photography, Yap offers an opportunity to photograph rare species such as the fire goby, leaffish, ghost pipefish, longnose filefish, seahorses, mandarinfish, shrimpfish, dragon wrasse and dozens of nudibranches.
CLIMATE: The climate in Yap is Tropical – hot and humid. Average year-round temperature is 80 F (27 C), with a 10 F (6 C) variation between night and day. The average water temperature is 81 F (28 C). Annual rainfall is 121 inches (3090 mm). North-east tradewinds blow from November to May, resulting in less rain and lower humidity during these months. Typhoons are uncommon. The ones hitting other areas of the western Pacific during the typhoon season usually pass to the north of Yap Proper.
ELECTRICITY: Yap uses the same electrical standards as the USA (110 Volt, 60 cycles). All electric outlets are American style.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The U.S. dollar is the official currency of Yap. We recommend that International visitors bring U.S. dollars prior to entering Yap. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and JCB cards are accepted at most resorts.
GRATUITIES: Tipping is not culturally accepted and is actually discouraged.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Cell phone service is widely available. Internet/wii-fi are usually available at the major hotels and dive resorts.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: A current Passport must be presented that is valid for at least 120 days beyond the date of entry.
CUSTOMS: Up to two liters of alcohol for visitors over 21 and reasonable perfume amounts for personal use. Tobacco restrictions are either 600 cigarettes or up to 454 grams of cigars or loose tobacco. Visitors are banned from importing firearms and ammunition on the islands.
DEPARTURE TAX: US$20.00
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