Here at Girls that Scuba we are dedictaed on showing you the best scuba dive destination around the world and share all of our scuba tips on how to get there, the best time to dive and everything in between straight to you. Here we speak to Girls that Scuba member Celeste Buck-Heinz about scuba diving in Kosrae, Micronesia.
Prior to being offered a teaching contract in the Federated States of Micronesia, I had never even heard of the country composed of 4 beautiful island chains in the Western Tropical Pacific. I had seen the job posting and thought to myself–”Hey, I know Indonesia is composed of islands with sick diving, so what could be different about Micronesia?!” So, I went ahead and accepted the teaching position, unknowingly launching myself into the most beautiful and trying adventure of my young life.
Where is Kosrae and what happens there?
Kosrae (pronounced Koh-Shrie) is a 42 square mile island in the Pacific, about 5,750 miles southwest of Hawaii and 1,400 miles southeast of Guam. Kosrae is a quiet island—“the island of the sleeping lady” as the locals call her, with the central mountain range creating a silhouette of a sleeping lady overlooking Lelu Harbor. On land, it is generally pretty mellow around the whole island, it really does suit its nickname; underwater, the energy is much of the same. For me, coming into Kosrae as a relatively new diver who was hungry to log a bunch of dives and improve my skills, this was perfect.
We are talking emerald green mountains shooting out of turquoise waters and a barrier reef encompassing the whole island looking more like something from a Pixar movie than a real place. White beaches falling into the reef that drops off into deep blue are like a dream. Walking down the road feels like the jungle is hugging you the whole way, leaves from banana trees and palm trees create a tunnel guiding you around the island.
Underwater in Kosrae is just as beautiful as being on land—if not more so. The hard coral populations are unlike anywhere else in the world. They are home to all colors of the rainbow and teeming with fish. At my favorite dive site, Hiroshi Point, there is a shark nursery that is home to anywhere between 5-25 baby black tip reef sharks that are there to greet you on almost every dive! For some divers, especially those who have visited places teeming with life, such as the Galapagos, this may seem mellow, but it provides divers the opportunity to get to know the dive sites and the marine life intimately.
In addition to the diving scene, there are some pretty fantastic surf breaks as well! The village of Malem on the east side of the island gets pretty great waves throughout the winter months, and in the spring, the north side gets some sick swells!
What can I see when diving in Kosrae?
Kosrae is known for its coral population. The whole island is surrounded by a beautiful barrier reef, and the reef is particularly spectacular on the south side. My personal favorite dive site is known as Hiroshi Point and is home to spectacular coral formations and tons of reef fish.
In addition to the coral, Kosrae is home to a couple of wrecks that are dive-able. While the wrecks aren’t as well known as Kosrae’s sister island, Chuuk, Lelu harbor houses a Japanese WWII seaplane in fantastic condition at a depth of around 80 feet. There’s also
What kind of certification do I need to dive Kosrae and who should I dive with?
As most of the reef is around 45-60 feet, most divers here just need their basic Open Water! I came to Kosrae with just this certification, and ended up getting my AOW, Enriched Air, and Rescue Diver while living there. Some of the reef does drop off, and more adventurous divers can hang out around 100 feet, but the reef is at its best around 60 feet.
I did all of my diving with Kosrae Treelodge Resort. The owners, Mark and Maria are super accommodating and I loved diving with them! Kosrae Nautilus Resort is the other dive resort on the island and it is fantastic as well! It just made international headlines because the family owning it raffled it off, with the winner coming in this fall to take over the resort!
Snorkelling and Spearfishing in Kosrae
Aside from diving, Kosrae has awesome snorkeling! Because the reef is relatively shallow, non-divers can experience all of the beauty of the reef as well. The visibility is incredible (usually around 100 ft) and snorkeling gives visitors a panoramic view of the coral and reef fish around the island.
Spearfishing here is quite popular as well. The abundance of reef fish gives fishermen hundreds of fish to choose from and is a beautiful backdrop for a fun fishing session.
Other things to do in Kosrae
Kosrae’s playground doesn’t end with the waves. The mountainous island has four mountains you can summit and countless other trails through the jungle. My favorite hikes were Mt. Oma and Tafunsak Gorge. Oma is a beautiful mountain with panoramic views of the whole island. The hike is a bit steep, and can be muddy, but overall isn’t too long (it usually takes about 2 hours to summit). Tafunsak Gorge is a beautiful hike through the jungle that leads hikers to a gorge with 300 foot walls on either side. The gorge culminates in two beautiful waterfalls cascading down into pools that tired hikers can relax and swim in.
Kosrae is also known for its historical ruins. Some of the oldest ruins in the entire Pacific can be found in the jungle. Hikers can follow the river for about an hour and a half into the jungle, until they reach Menke ruins. The ruins are the foundations of communities from thousands of years ago and the hike is beautiful!
How to get to Kosrae
Kosrae is incredibly remote, but the hard work and time it takes to reach the island is worth it! Coming from the states, most visitors fly from LAX into Honolulu. After an overnight layover, there is an island hopper flight that leaves Honolulu usually around 5 am. The flight takes about 7 hours to reach its first stop in Majuro, Marshall Islands. From there, it continues on for about another hour and lands in Kwajelin, Marshall Islands. This island is an American military base, so travelers aren’t allowed to de-plane or take photos. Finally, the flight continues on to Kosrae!
Follow Celeste at Instagram.com/celestebuckheinz