Travel safety: Travelling safely in Micronesia

Ancient & beautiful with amazing marine life and WW2 wrecks, Micronesia is a scuba diver's treasure trove.

The Federated States of Micronesia is actually four totally separate states, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk and Yap, each with completely different cultures, things to see and levels of safety and security for travellers. They are spread over an enormous area of the Pacific Ocean, millions of square kilometres, so visiting all the states in one trip is somewhat ambitious, but go ahead, give it a shot!

State by State

Chuuk is renowned for its wreck diving, in particular the remnants of a Japanese WWII Naval fleet.

Yap is the most traditional state, renowned for its giant stone money, betel nut chewing population and amazing manta ray diving.

Kosrae is an unspoilt paradise, more than a few dozen visitors at any one time is considered a stampede!

Pohnpei houses the capital Palikir and is home to the ancient stone city of Nan Madol, Micronesia's best known archaeological site.

Travellers should also be mindful of conservative dress standards on most of the islands and dress accordingly.

Like most countries there are heavy penalties for drug offences throughout Micronesia. Also, be aware that homosexuality is illegal in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Crime

There is a relatively low incidence of serious crime in Micronesia, however there are regular reports of petty crimes against travellers in Chuuk, Yak and Pohnpei, including break-ins and non-violent theft. You should take all necessary precautions to protect your belongings and use your common sense when travelling around.

Women are particularly advised to exercise caution and avoid travelling alone to secluded areas.

Crime is higher in Chuuk than in the other states; you should stay off the streets after dark on Weno (the main island). On occasion, travellers are subject to theft and verbal and physical abuse, sometimes violent. Do not attempt to intervene in disputes between local citizens. Alcohol-related attacks as well as alcohol driving accidents are not uncommon on weekends and after dark.

Rogue Waves and Old Bombs

There are treacherous channel currents and rogue waves in parts of the islands. You should wear the appropriate safety equipment and take local advice at all times when diving, swimming or engaging in adventure sports. Talk to locals about the safest areas to dive and swim.

In the channels of Yap harbour there are approximately a dozen World War II bombs in shallow depths, they are considered live and dangerous and could detonate if a diver or other object collides with them. You've been warned! Again, follow the advice of locals and only swim and dive in areas you are certain are safe.

(WWII unexploded shells in Chuuk harbour)

Heat & Health & Insects

While it's tempting to wear as little as possible in the tropical heat there are a few key reasons not to. First, most locals would find this offensive and secondly you risk sunburn and/or heatstroke! So, appropriate cotton clothing is a must as is a broad spectrum sunscreen, hat and sunglasses.

Throughout Micronesia, like all tropical areas, mosquitoes are prevalent and can transmit disease. Dengue fever occurs and it's recommended to use mosquito repellant at all times as well as considering the following vaccinations before travelling.

  • Hepatitis A & B
  • Typhoid
  • Japanese Encephalitis & Rabies (if you are planning a long stay or substantial time outdoors or in the rainforest)
  • Tetanus-diphtheria shots are recommended every 10 years

There have also been outbreaks of cholera in Micronesia in the past. You should only drink or use boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.

If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Micronesia you should seek immediate medical attention.

Getting Around

Throughout all of Micronesia most roads are narrow and without footpaths, creating a hazard for both drivers and pedestrians.

Many roads are in poor condition, with potholes and little or no shoulder to pull to the side of the road. Road conditions can worsen after heavy rains.

Be aware that there is no formal training in road safety so many drivers are unaware of fairly basic road safety rules.

Roads outside the towns are often unpaved and are used by pedestrians, children playing, animals, and drivers alike! But that's part of the charm of Micronesia.

Get a travel insurance quote for Micronesia

You can buy at home or while traveling, and claim online from anywhere in the world. With 150+ adventure activities covered and 24/7 emergency assistance.

3 Comments

  • Ashley said

    Could you do a thing where you make an article with info on "Best Places to Live in The Federated States of Micronesia"? Because I am using your site for a quick school project, and the info that I got (btw) is really helpful! Thanks!

  • Wescot Ioanis said

    "Homosexuality is illegal" they got nothing to do with this is in Micronesia

  • Vilmar the Magnificent said

    YAP!

Add a Comment