This Tiny, Remote Island You've Never Heard Of Has Tropical Forest Trails, 13-foot Coin Currency, and Some of the Most Turquoise Waters in the World

Getting to Yap and what to do on this isolated Pacific island paradise.

Aerial view of the east coast with coral reef and mangrove edged shoreline, Yap Island, Micronesia.


Spread across the western Pacific Ocean, the Federated States of Micronesia encompasses 607 far-flung islands. Among the most interesting and idyllic destinations in the archipelago? Yap, a small speck on a map in a sea of blue. Ringed by a pristine coral reef, covered in lush flora, and removed from virtually everything else, it’s the perfect place to get away from it all. Besides having stunning scenery and a sense of solitude, Yap is steeped in time-honored traditions and ancient practices. There are heritage-rich villages with thatched-roof dwellings, giant stone currency, and oral histories passed down through generations.

Because Yap lies just nine degrees north of the equator, the subtropical climate tends to be pretty consistent throughout the year. Visitors can expect an average temperature of 87 degrees Fahrenheit. That means it’s always a good time for snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, hiking, and relaxing on the beach. (Note that while it’s consistently swimsuit weather, Yapese women are required to cover their thighs in public. It’s advised that tourists show respect and follow the same cultural customs.)

Ready to plan a getaway to this remote Micronesian paradise? Read on for how to plan the perfect trip to Yap.

Getting to Yap

Aerial view of the Colonia Bay and Harbour, Capital of Yap, Federated States of Micronesia

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Yap sits about 300 miles northeast of Palau and 500 miles southwest of Guam. Admittedly, it’s a long-haul journey from the U.S. and requires quite bit of plane hopping. The beginning legs vary depending on the point of origin. Many travelers fly through Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) or Narita International Airport (NRT) before making their final connection through Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport (GUM). From there, the late-night flight to Yap International Airport (YAP) is about 95 minutes.  

Best Things to Do on Yap

Mandarin Fish (Synchiropus splendidus (Herre, 1927)), climbing stone coral branches. Yap Island Federated States of Micronesia


So much of Yap's beauty lies within its landscape — both in the sea and on land. The coral reef that frames the island brims with tropical fish, manta rays, giant clams, and sharks. Having such a diverse marine ecosystem and clear, turquoise waters make it a dream destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. Yap also has near-empty sandy beaches for strolling, swimming, and sunning. Deep-sea fishing for skipjack tuna, mahi-mahi, red snapper, grouper, and giant trevally; surfing the offshore breaks; and kayaking through mangrove swamps are excellent ways to fill a few days. Connecting the east and west of Yap, Tamilyog Trail passes dense forests, highlands, and coastal viewpoints. It takes about two hours to complete. There are some shorter, scenic hikes around Colonia as well. 

A outstretched palm tree over the beach on Yap Island


Yap also gives travelers plenty of opportunities to learn about its heritage. Excursions on hand-hewn outrigger canoes with local guides provide deeper insight into Yapese culture and time to explore the water on a centuries-old vessel. The Yap Living History Museum in Colonia spotlights deep-seated traditions like dancing, handicrafts, weaving, and storytelling. 

The history of rai — doughnut-shaped stone money that varies in size from a few centimeters to upwards of 13 feet — dates back centuries. More than just currency, the ancient limestone disks hold social and ceremonial value. These significant artifacts are scattered around the island. Villages even have outdoor banks to display the larger pieces. A visit to tight-knit Yapese communities also presents a chance to see daily life up close — women wearing hibiscus skirts, people gathering outside the p’ebay (meeting house), a master builder patching the thatched roof of a tabnaw (residential home), and families preparing meals in the ta’ang (cookhouse). 

Best Places to Eat and Drink on Yap

Visitors are never far from fresh produce and seafood on Yap. Breadfruit, bananas, soursop, papaya, and coconut grow abundantly. Fish, crab, lobster, and snails go straight from the water to the plate (well, by way of a barbecue or earth oven) at the handful of local eateries. Open to outside guests for lunch and dinner, the restaurant at Oceania Hotel is casual and breezy with a chalkboard menu that changes daily to reflect the availability of ingredients. On any given day, that might look like blackened tuna or spicy octopus. Diners often remark that the food tastes great, the portions are generous, and the staff treats everyone like a friend. Mnuw Restaurant & Nautical Bar serves crowd-pleasing food and drinks — including microbrews from Yap’s own Stone Money Brewing Company — aboard a 170-foot phinisi schooner that's docked in front of Manta Ray Bay Resort

Best Places to Stay on Yap

Stone money bank in the jungle on Yap Island

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The small clutch of accommodations on Yap ranges from no-frills eco-lodges to full-service hotels. Manta Ray Bay Resort is a small, family-owned hotel with ocean-themed rooms, an intimate spa that utilizes local ingredients in treatments, a floating restaurant, and VIP diving excursions. Just down the street, O'Keefe's Waterfront Inn nods at the past with its relaxed atmosphere and vintage details such as a gramophone and old photos. Rooms exude a cozy, homey vibe and have private bay-view verandas. The front porch with rocking chairs and wood-paneled bar area are also favorite spots for guests to unwind. Oceania Hotel takes cues from Yapese culture and the landscape, inviting guests to sleep in cottages inspired by long-standing traditional huts with decks that overlook Chamorro Bay. The eco-oriented property also uses organic cotton bedding and fresh local ingredients in its breakfast and dinner menus.

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