Continuing on the Pacifying Pacific Tour from Majuro, we arrive in the Federal States of Micronesia and my country 176! Our visit will be focused on exploring Pohnpei island where the capital city of Palikir is located. It is the second most populated island, after Chuuk, with a population of around 35,000.
Micronesia is actually an area composed of many islands and territories while the Federal States of Micronesia is a sovereign nation. This country is composed of 607 islands spread over 2,700 km (1,678 mi)!
Interestingly, the US provides defense and social services for citizens of FSM.
I also encountered a surprise guest who happened to be on the island at the same time. Johnny Ward from OneStep4Ward was not only on the same island, but also at the same hotel, 7 Stars Inn. So along with Johnny and my mother, we toured the great island.
Top Sights of Pohnpei
The previous capital of Pohnpei is also the largest town of the island and most likely where your hotel will be located. Its a quaint town with a few sights of interest. Check out the Japanese tank from WWII next to the post office. Further down the road is the Spanish Wall, built in 1889. Rising above the tree line is the Bell Tower from a German Catholic church destroyed in WWII. Check if there are any festivals in town during your stay. We were lucky to catch the end of the Women’s day
The island is great to explore by driving around the island on the circular road. First up, keep your eye open for signs indicating Pohnpaip Petroglyphs with over 700 prehistoric motifs carved into the rocks, not to mention a great view over the lush rainforest. Unfortunately the origins of the petroglyphs are unclear.
Kepirohi Falls is the most picturesque and easily accessed waterfall on the island, so make sure to take a break here.
Nan Madol, the “Venice of the Pacific”, is next on the tour. This ancient city dates back to around 500 -1500 AD and is believed to be the center of the Saudeleur dynasty. You can explore the ruins by foot, but to see all of the structures you would have to hire a boat. This is the most important sight of the country.
Dolopwuropwur Gun Battery
For those interested in WWII history, up the hill on the northern road leaving Nan Madol, is a Japanese gun battery with well preserved and intact guns. The landowner is friendly but may be a bit difficult to find. He was inside his house when we arrived. His grandfather worked with the Japanese during the war, so he is very familiar with the area and history.
On the southern part of the road, we found a botanical garden which seemed more like a working farm. The growing of the local pepper plants was impressive.
The current capital of FSM since 1989, this ‘city’ was built with US aid and consists mainly of government buildings.
The mountain jutting out on the horizon overlooking Kolonia is also a park with a great hike and stunning views. Midway up is also an impressive ruin of Japanese WWII guns and tunnels. Be careful driving up the road as it gets very steep and narrow in some areas.
Other activities on the island include visiting the smaller surrounding islands, fishing, surfing, diving, and exploring the rainforest and waterfalls. Don’t forget to sample the local sakau drink!
Next up is Palau!