Pohnpei is one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia.
- Palikir - The capital of the Federated States of Micronesia.
- Kolonia - The main city on the island and the Pohnpei state capital.
View of the airport and Kolonia from Sokehs ridge
Pohnpei is the largest of the islands in the Federated States of Micronesia. It is roughly circular and about 60 miles around.
Pohnpei is the most developed of the four states in Micronesia.
Pohnpei is also one of the rainiest inhabited place in the world. With about 300 inches of rain per year at the higher elevations and 150 inches at the waterfront, and no dry season, expect it to rain every day, with alternating patches of sun, clouds, and rain. However, since the temperature hovers around 85°F (about 27°C), the rain is never seen as much of a nuisance, and most people walk around without umbrellas or other rain gear. Rain can often be seen as a relief, because it cools the weather down a few degrees and keeps the humidity from feeling oppressive.
The Northern end of the island has most of the population, as well as the city of Kolonia. There are no well-defined boundaries to the city, and the townships are all quite near each other. There is a ring road that circles the island. Most people live on the ring road.
The state of Pohnpei also has two atolls with Polynesian culture: Kapingamarangi (the southernmost island) and Nukuoro.
The regional language of Pohnpei is Pohnpeian. However, most people learn English as well. Outside of the capital and the college, most people only have rudimentary English skills, and once you get into the villages, only Pohnpeian is spoken, by and large. The older population has more proficiency in Japanese, the language of the occupation during their childhood.
United Airlines and Nauru Airlines are the only two airlines with flights to Micronesia. They offer an island-hopper flight, which goes East to West on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and West to East on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The airport is small, and most checking on the islands is done by hand, so expect to have all of your luggage (carry-on or check-in) hand-searched. Because of this, check-in generally happens at least an hour before boarding, even though there are never huge numbers of people at the airport.
Intrepid travelers arrive on their sailboats to visit Pohnpei. There is a marina for sailboats.
Street names are not generally used to give directions. There are no addresses. Fortunately, there is only one main road and it is pretty easy to get around. If you are lost, locals know where practically everything is and are happy to give directions.
There are some car rentals available on Pohnpei. The roads are in fair to poor condition, and potholes are common. Cars will drive on the wrong side of the road to avoid potholes. It is acceptable to pass a slow moving car anywhere there is enough space. At night many drivers are intoxicated on Sakau and tend to drive very slowly. There is little in the way of signage.
There are also taxis, which are relatively cheap. A taxi ride in Kolonia will cost $1 per person. Prices increase the farther you go outside of Kolonia.
Walking is easy, as there are few distances within the Kolonia area which are more than a couple of miles away. Many people walk around town. Dogs may nip at you if you make too much eye contact with them.
- Sokehs Ridge - a hiking trail leads to the top for a panoramic view over the island. There are some WW2 era Japanese guns around half way to the top. Moderate fitness level required.
A Japanese Gun from World War II
- Sokehs Rock - a massive rock outcropping that is viewable from a landing plane on a clear day. A climbing trail leads to the top of the rock. At the time of writing (May 2013), ropes are affixed on the first half of the climb. Moderate to advanced fitness level required.
- Nan Madol - a must see. The ruins of a thousand year old royal city. The ruins are located on artificial islands, and it has been called "the Venice of the pacific."
- the Spanish Wall - located in the capital, Kolonia, this wall is all that remains of the old spanish fort.
Pohnpei's surf season generally goes from late October until April but there are occasional good waves other times of year in other spots.
Pohnpei has been featured in many surf magazines from all over the world over in recent years and as a result there are times when heavy crowds swarm the best breaks. Other times though it still remains a quiet and uncrowded island for surfers.
To get to the best waves in Pohnpei you will need to get a ride from one of the many local fishermen with boats.
You can easily check to see if there are waves from the hotels in town. South Park Hotel sits above Kolonia harbor and faces directly north toward Main Pass, Center Channel and gives a peak of Lighthouse Pass. Ocean View Hotel, aptly named, has clear views to the reef line on the north side of the island which provide a full indicator of what the swell is doing.
P-Pass surf camp and the Village have closed based or reports and not answered e-mails. There are three reliable tour operators: Pohnpei Ocean Cruises, Pohpei Surf Club and P-Pass Surf (NIHCO.
A short drive to Nan Pohnmal (5 minutes)west of town where the U.S. Embassy housing complex is located provides a clear view of the entire NW reef including Palikir Pass which is easily seen from the bluff top vista.
The local crew reccomends NIHCO Marine Park or Pohnpei Surf Club which is run out of the newest hotel on island. NIHCO Marine Park is in Sekere along the north western shore of the lagoon at the closest point of land to Palikir Pass. Locally owned, NIHCO has good accomodations and reliable boats and surf tourist accomodations. Pohnpei Surf Club is run out of Mangrove Bay Hotel & Bar and has excellent accomodations, a beautiful view and a short 15 minute boat ride to the wave on a comfortable boat. It is run by Allois Malfitani who has been running the Surf Camp for over a decade.
Pohnpei has very good diving and snorkeling. The diving here mostly along reefs. The island is well known for its manta population. There is decent diving and snorkeling from Nahlap Resort. You will need a boat for the best diving spots on the island. The only PADI certified dive center on the island is at The Village, where the cost is dependent on the number of divers going out that day (call or e-mail to make arrangements).
- Kayak Sea Breeze hotel rents kayaks. The rate is $2 per hour. Coco Marina, across the street, also rents Kayaks.
- See Mangrove Forests There are no natural beaches. Instead of beaches the island is surrounded by a belt of mangrove swamp. Travelers will find that there is not obvious access to the ocean in Kolonia. There is public access to the water a Nett Point.
- Nahlap Resort Built on top of a reef in Kitti Municipality, Nahlap features about 10 spartan cabins. Nahlap is about a forty five minute drive from Kolonia. There is an unmarked turn down a dirt road, off of the ring road to get to Nahlap. During low tide there is enough sand to spread out and get the beach experience. You can dive and snorkel from here, but you will need your own equipment. This resort offers overnight cabins, and day use cabins, all with BBQ pits. There is a shared restroom. Nahlap runs a water taxi to the resort that is $5 per person, round trip. The use fee is about $3 per person to rent a cabin. Kayaks can be rented for a couple of dollars. There is a Sunday discount.
- Shop Handicrafts such as wood carvings, woven baskets, and wall hangings (often incorporating shells and small wood carvings) are made by the local population. As well as purchasing these, you can watch them being made.
In addition to a small Japanese tank in downtown Kolonia, there are two old shore batteries on the island. The easiest to find is on the way to Sokeh Rock. A road runs up the side of the hill but will likely require some hiking unless you have a four-wheel drive vehicle. The two heavy gun batteries are located near a picknic area as you crest the hill. They are not clearly marked so you must wander a few trails to find them.
The other battery location is harder to find, but more interesting. It's located on Temwen Island, quite close to Nan Madol. Follow the island road to Nan Madol. Near the end of the road is a school. Ask the locals about the "Japanese guns" and they will direct you to a very narrow and dark road leading into the jungle. Follow this until you see a sort of turn-off as the road goes down the hill to the left. Park here and walk down the hill to introduce yourself to the property owner, Robert. For three dollars, he will guide you to the four guns on the hilltop, a very unusual hollow stone tower, an ammo bunker and great water cisterns. Not many people come out this way, so the trail is heavily overgrown, as are the relics.
There are a number of good restaurants around Pohnpei. Lunches from about $6.50 to $9, and dinners between $12 and $30. Packed lunches with rice and meat, or rice balls can also be bought in local convenience stores for $1 to $3.
- Nett Ramen a charming locally owned and run restaurant that makes its own ramen (noodles) from scratch. Menu is around $7 for lunch and dinner. In a yellow house on the water with beautiful views, a few hundred metres drive down to the right after the causeway to Nett municipality.
- Mereina's Restaurant serves mainly Fijian dishes including local staples like taro and breadfruit. Quality food sourced mainly locally. Located in a small wooden house, behind Yoshie Enterprises, next to Do it Best Hardware store.
- Coco Marina Owned by The Neime Company, http://www.neime.com/cocomarina.html, is a trendy local-style waterfront restaurant with high thatched roofing and no walls but small gardens of flora to entice your attention to the extensive menu of both local and American standards, and the only place on the island to get favorites done properly - Vanilla Lattes, Cappuccinos, real fruit smoothies, Caesar Salads, sumptuous HUGE steaks, King-size Burritos, Nachos, Spicy Hot Wings & so much more. Enormously popular is the Hawaiian Style Poke as well as the fish tacos, Turkey wraps and or Taco Salad. Also delivered "fresh" are the premium steaks and produce, that the owners proudly take the extra step to fly in weekly from their Hawaii vendors - never frozen, sitting for weeks on a ship from uncertain origins. The select steaks include rib-eye, top-sirloin, prime-rib, HUGE dinosaur beef ribs and baby back ribs. Enjoy any meal further by ordering from the bar which is stocked with Heineken, Corona and Bud Light and spirits with cocktails that are potent yet inexpensive. FREE WiFi available. It's located in Kolonia. Follow the driveway across the street from the Australian Embassy to the right. (691) 320-5631. Meals vary from $7 to $25.
- "Pepper and Spice" serves Filipino dishes, buffet style with a home-cook feel of only around four to five dishes at a time. Good for cheap, quick, quality, unpretentious meals. Located to the left side of Coco Marina.
- "Nihco Marine Park Restaurant" serves decent meals at very fair prices. A good choice if spending time at the Park or for something different from the usual eat outs in town. Located at Nihco Marine Park.
Arnold's Pizza is a very decent restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This place is known for it's delicious meals with very friendly customer service and eye-catching arrangements and decorations all over the room. It is located right next to Blue Nile.
- "Rusty Anchor" open for dinner only, starting from around 4.30pm. Has good burgers, pizza and other specials. Has a good 'pub' feel and nice views.
- "Moshi Moshi" open for lunch take-out/take-away, weekdays only. A wide array of packed lunch meals are sold through a window. Quality Japanese style food at a very reasonable price. Located on the main road, in between the College of Micronesia, Pohnpei campus and Sei Pepper Store and Restaurant.
- The China Star Restaurant down by the airport and port. The cooks are from China and most dishes have fresh veggies. Meals are between $8.00 and $16.00. (691) 320-6849
- The Joy Hotel and Restaurant is known for its Joy Lunch, a Japanese-style set lunch of fried fish, tuna sashimi, rice, salad, and soup. They also serve local snacks like breadfruit and banana chips as a free appetizer. You can get it at dinner there, as well. Joy lunch is $7.50. Joy dinner as around $10.00 a plate. (691) 320-2447
- PCR / Nanchelik PCR has a river view and a Japanese revolving lazy susan, where you sit and pick off the dishes you like- sahami, sushi, fried fish and chicken, seafood spaghetti, etc. (as of 2012, the convery belt was no longer in opperation). All you can eat lunch (which usually includes sashimi and cucumber rolls) is $6.50. (691) 320-5444
- SEI restaurant is known for its buffet lunch, which, at $6.99, has all-you-can-eat sashimi, rice, and fritters, among other things. Architecture alone is worth a visit. (691) 320-4266 Recently closed, unsure if it will open again.
- Angie's "Fast Food", right next to Palm Terrace Supermarket, has delicious burgers and fries at very reasonable prices. (691) 320-1480
- The Orchid Located at Ocean View Hotel, it is reasonably priced and has great view. (691) 320-3075
- Cliff Rainbow Restaurant This place is known for its spectacular view and very good pizza along with other delicious meals! (691) 320-2415
- Cupid's is a good restaurant and has the best sunset view on the island. Located adjacent to the Australian Ambassador Resident compound, it's a bit off the regular route, but an easy one-dollar taxi ride. Their drink specials will likely keep you well after sunset.
- MovieLand Restaurant (MovieLand Video Rentals), 2nd Floor Namiki Building, ☎ +1-691-320-7748. Try the best bbq on island. Vast selection of fresh island foods and the fastest takeout service on island. edit
- The Rusty Anchor - a popular bar on Pohnpei. It is located in the shell of an unfinished hotel and has an excellent view of the yacht harbor. It is known as the expat bar, but locals also frequent the bar. Beer is between $2 and $3.50. There are pool tables.
- Club Flamingo - the only nightclub on the island. $3 cover. Open on the weekends, after 10:00 p.m., the party can go on until 3 in the morning. Don't get caught on the dance floor after a song ends!
- Cupid's Bar - located in the restaurant with stunning views. Karaoke starts at 10pm.
- Sakau en Pohnpei - many people around Pohnpei enjoy anesthetizing themselves with a goopy concoction known as sakau (a.k.a. kava). Try some and you'll understand why people say "like the feeling, not the taste." There are numerous sakau bars (markets) around town. 'Green Bay' is a popular sakau bar. The atmosphere at the market is very quiet and low key. The price is usually $7 for all you can drink in a shared cup. For about $10 you can get a personal cup.
- The PCR Hotel 10 rooms with AC, TV, internet connection, fridge and a restaurant and small private marina located downstairs. The Pohnpei Surf Club is based here. Land and ocean tours anywhere on the island and off shore. Snorkeling, surfing, sport fishing and all equipment included. Contact Pohnpei Surf Club at (691) 320-7845.
- Palikir Marine Adventures located at Nihco Marine Park  A mixture of apartments and self-contained bungalows snugged in a beautiful mangrove setting with access to a small clean beach. Palikir pass is a 10 to 15-minute boat ride. PMA is the only locally owned surf camp on Pohnpei and offers a unique local with a maximum capacity of 6 surfers at a time. General tourists are also welcome to stay depending on availability. (691) 320-8618
- Ocean View Plaza  It serves as a decent place to sleep. All the rooms feature kitchenettes, air conditioning, private balconies, full bath, cable TV, telephones and laundry service. (691) 320-7049
The island is remarkably safe. Respect the local culture and you'll be OK. Do however be wary of drunks you may encounter in the streets after hours. Going to the Flamingo Club is safest with a group of trusted friends.