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Micronesia

Chuuk diving, Micronesia

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Micronesia is made up of hundreds of islands scattered between Hawaii and the Philippines. So small are they in the vast seas, many world maps don't even mark them. The most popular theory of Micronesian history is that the first settlers canoed there from the Philippines and Indonesia, landing their outriggers on the sands of Yap, between 4000 and 2000BC.

The islands have a fairly colourful modern history — Ferdinand Magellan spotted them in 1521 and they became a stopover for Spice Island expeditions. British whalers arrived in the 1800s, closely followed by American whalers. Then Protestant missionaries arrived, imposing Western clothing, language, laws and religion. Germany purchased Micronesia from the Spanish and encouraged coconut planting.

When WWI occurred, they fled and the Japanese arrived. In 1920 the League of Nations gave the country a mandate over the islands. Their aim was to make Micronesia a mirror of their homeland and installed Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, geisha houses and public baths. WWII put an end to that and the islands were taken into American hands and almost all of the Japanese infrastructure was destroyed.

These days the islands vary in political status. Guam remains an American territory and is gateway to the other groups. Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae and Yap joined a federal government while Palau, the Marshall Islands remained independent with autonomous governments and Saipan, Rota and Tinian became the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas.

With temperatures hovering around 27°C all year round and not being on the established tourist trail, Micronesia is a haven for beach and water lovers. They are beautifully laid-back in attitude and have some of the world's best wreck diving.

Chuuk (formerly known as Truk) is colourful, lively and a bit rough around the edges. It has 15 main islands, 92 outer islands and more than 80 islets in the Chuuk Lagoon. Its wrecks are overwhelming for serious divers — an entire Japanese fleet rests on the lagoon floor, representing the largest naval loss in history.

Each wreck is a time capsule — some remain upright, some are intact, some in pieces. Their holds are full of guns and trucks and fighter planes, dining areas are littered with dishes, silverware and sake bottles and the skeletal remains of perished crew lie buried at sea.

Blue Lagoon Resort is a two-storey hotel of 54 modern, spacious and air conditioned rooms. It is surrounded by palm-shaded gardens and the white sand beach and lagoon are just a wander away.

The boat dock makes it simple to take motorboat excursions to distant atolls for snorkelling, diving trips or to just enjoy the tropical sunset.

The restaurant serves Pacific and Asian cuisine, with plenty of local seafood on offer and tropical sunsets are the backdrop for every dinner.

Blue Lagoon Dive Shop has been operating since 1973. The humble shack has grown into a modern dive shop providing full service for divers wanting the full adventure of the historic wrecks.

Gradvin Aisek is continuing the legacy of his father who opened the underwater world of Truk Lagoon to the world. The dive shop provides sales, service and classes, a fleet of fast dive boats and guides who are familiar with the waters and their treasures.

Tourism is very new to the area and locals are very wary of visitors. It's not a bad idea to have a guide with you at all times. Also, it doesn't offer a cultural experience as does, say, Fiji, but if it's good diving you are interested in, this is the place!

Location

The Federated States of Micronesia, found between Hawai'i and the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean.

Cost

Talpacific Holidays have six night packages including return flights from Cairns, transfers and accommodation at Chuuk Blue Lagoon. Prices start at $1785 per person, twin share, including tax.

Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

More information

Talpacific Holidays
7/255 Adelaide Street
Brisbane 4000
Ph: (07) 3218 9900
Fax: (07) 3229 7073
http://www.talpacific.com
brisbane@talpacific.com.au

Truk Blue Lagoon Resort
PO Box 340
Weno Chuuk State
Federated States of Micronesia 96942
Ph: 691 330 2727
Fax: 691 330 2439
http://www.bluelagoondiveresort.com
BLResort@mail.fm

Blue Lagoon Dive Shop
PO Box 429
Weno Chuuk State
Federated States of Micronesia 96942
Ph: 691 330 2796
Fax: 691 330 4307
http://www.truk-lagoon-dive.com
bldiveshop@mail.fm

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