Pohnpei is one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia.
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 offer an island-hopper flight, which goes East to West on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and West to East on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Our Airline (Nauru Airlines) also flies weekly from Majuro, so it is possible to do a loop from Brisbane-Nauru-Kiribati-Majuro-Pohnpei-Port Moresby to Brisbane for approx ~1.5k AUD using both Air Nuigini and Our Airline. If time is a problem, since all the flights by our airline are weekly in one direction on Wednesday and the other direction on Friday, then it is possible to double hop and back track, for example go from Nauru-Majuro via Kiribati, then back to Kiribati, then Kiribati-Pohnpei via Majuro, should you wish to visit all these places.
Air Nuigini now flies from Port Moresby to Chuuk then onto Pohnpei, with connections/depatures from Brisbane and Sydney amongst other places, for a very reasonable price ~600 AUD return.
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.
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).
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.
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.
United Airlines offers an island-hopper flight, which goes East to West on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and West to East on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. For the quickest route board the island hopper on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday at the Pohnpei International Airport then fly from Pohnpei to Chuuk, then Guam. From Guam you can fly to a few larger international airports.
Alternatively you can board on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday and have 4 layovers in Kosrae, Kwajalein Atoll, Majuro Atoll, then Honolulu, which you can then take to a larger international airport.
Keep in mind that if you take the west To east exit and stop at the Kwajalein Atoll, it is currently an active military base owned by the US Military. As a result passengers are prohibited from leaving the aircraft unless they have permission from the US Government. Passengers are also prohibited from taking photos/videos of the island.