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Yap is the number one place on earth where diving with manta rays is this reliable, frequent, year-round and from this close.

Inserted/Added by: lars, © Author: Lars Hemel

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Yap or Wa'ab is a small island in the west of Micronesia with the charming capital Colonia. Completely surrounded with an outer barrier reef and an inner mangrove swamp, Yap provides excellent opportunities for many juveniles to grow and spread.

The friendly people of Yap still maintain their traditional lifestyle reflected in their ancient dances, handicrafts and clothing from the woman's skirts called lavalavas to the men's thu'us. Fishing, sailing and weaving are still part of everyday's life. In front of several houses you can still spot huge stone wheels, called stone money, that represent the family's wealth and status. Other inland activities can be hiking on ancient stone paths, mountain biking through its green rolling hills or sunbathing on one of its pristine white unspoiled beaches. Yap Island has 130 outer islands, most coral atolls, stretching more than 500 miles to the east and sparsely inhabited by people from different culture and language. The most popular are Ulithi Atoll, Sorol Atoll, Eauripik Atoll, Woleai Atoll, Faraulep Atoll, Ifalik Atoll, Lamotrek Atoll as well as the island of Satawal. One of the best times to visit this idyllic island is during the dry season in between December and April. It doesn't get extremely more wet and humid during the wet season but still.

One of the main reasons to dive in Yap is for the guaranteed sightings of manta rays. Yap is blessed with many fast flowing deep channels which are extremely nutrient and attract manta rays as well as many large pelagic and game fish. The many mangrove trees in the shallower lagoons also add up to one of the richest planktonic environments on earth. Resident mantas, the Manta birostris, are spotted throughout Micronesia but nowhere in such high concentrations as in Yap. Another popular place to spot mantas are the cleaning stations in the Miil Channel (M'il Channel) and Goofnuw Channel. You will literally find many cleaner wrasses going in and out to clean the mantas from parasites while they are hovering above the coral reef. Mantas do not have a venomous spine or stinger on their tail and are therefore nothing more than graceful huge plankton eaters with wingspans of up to twelve feet.

Underwater sights frequently encountered are mandarin fish, dolphins, many tropical reef fishes, tuna, invertebrates and spectacular hard corals. Besides diving with manta rays, you will encounter some of the best coral gardens, sheer cliff like drop-offs and brilliant caves. It is a relatively secret gem in the Pacific where mass tourism is far from common.

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