I first heard of Micronesia when I visited Palau. I was told that Palau broke off from the Federated States of Micronesia and decided to become an independent country. Currently, Micronesia has four main islands, which are Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae. I had the chance to visit Kosrae, which was the smallest of them all. I took Nauru Airlines again from Kiribati with a quick stopover in Majuro, Marshall Islands. The layover was in the plane for about 30 minutes as we waited for passengers to deplane and new ones to board. The plane arrived around 2pm in the afternoon and my pickup from Pacific Treelodge Resort was waiting there for me. I was greeted by one of the staff members and she gave me one of those flowered necklaces. A pretty nice start to FSM.
Arrival at the hotel
The ride to the hotel was around 20 minutes and I noticed that FSM was much cleaner than Kiribati and everything looked more civilized. The roads had no potholes and there was very little garbage. I met the owner Maria at checkin and she was a lovely Italian lady. She had originally visited Kosrae on a trip and fell in love with Mark (from USA) and since then, she has not left. The lodge was really lovely with a view of the ocean in front. My room was perfectly clean and airconditioned with a flatscreen TV, fresh water in reusable glass containers, and a couch. My room was four times bigger than the one in Kiribati and I had my own bathroom. That was a nice touch. The weather was not ideal, a bit cloudy, but I headed for the Lelu Ruins, which was only a 25-minute walk from the hotel. I walked past the Nautilus Resort on the right hand side, which reminds me of something that Mark (the owner) told me. The owners of the Kosrae Nautilus Resort decided to raffle out the resort worldwide, since they wanted to move back to Australia. The raffle was a huge success and the owners were able to get more than the sum that they had expected. An Australian guy won the raffle and he became the new owner. The resort was debt free, profitable and over 20 years remaining on its lease. Mark told me that he giving lots of tips to the new owner, since he knows nothing about the hospitality business.
I went to Lelu Island to check out the archaeological site there. I walked along the main streets, but did not find anything that resembled ancient structures, but I asked one of the locals and she guided me to a bush. She told me to “walk straight ahead.” I was a bit surprised, since there was barely a path and it was all bush. It was a bit swampy and my sneakers were getting muddy. I walked for another 35 meters and voila, there were ruins there, but nothing impressive. The ancient city that peaked in the 14th and 15th centuries was no more than coral blocks stacked together. In the past, it consisted of housing, royal tombs and sacred spaces. Now, there was some resemblance, but I wonder what it looked like in the past.
On the way out of the site, I passed this small house with a bunch of pigs running around. I recall now from the Lonely Planet to enter through the small path with the pigs. I must have entered through the back. As I was walking out, it started to rain a lot. I decided to take shelter at a wash and dry place. I saw lots of coconut trees, low enough for me to pick one with my hand. I asked a gentleman nearby if I could take one and he asked the owner of the land and I was granted permission. It was a lovely fresh coconut as I spoke to the Kosraen. He worked for the government as a teacher and he was there doing his laundry. He told me that there was not much to do in Kosrae other than hiking, kayaking and scuba diving. Besides, Kosrae rains a lot so the time to do outdoor sports was limited. He told me to look beyond the coconut towards the bay for the naked lady. I could see clearly an outline of a lady lying down. Supposedly, this lady was lying there and watching the people from high above like a God….
I had a nice chat with the fellow until his laundry was done and I was hoping the rain would stop so that I can walk home. It did not stop, so he gave me a ride back to the hotel, which was very nice of him. Great Kosraen hospitality after all. I relaxed a bit and went to dinner.
So, the lodge was famous for its food. I read on TripAdvisor that Bully’s Restaurant was one of the top places to eat in Kosrae and it did not disappoint at all. I had a starter set of tuna sashimi and a mix drink for only $8 USD. That was a deal of the century. For my drink, I chose the Black Russian and it was made very well. I guess it is hard to go wrong with one cup Vodka and one cup Kahlua. I used to make this drink quite often in Paris, since my friends really liked this drink. It reminded me of the great house parties from Paris. Anyhow, I chilled there for a while as I gazed at the mangroves. For my main, I had the local lobster, which were very small, but I had two tails and it was only $10. I did not see that many people there, but I guess the place was full. The lodge had around 12+ rooms, but my dinner time was a bit late at 8pm. I must have missed the rest of the gang that ate earlier.
Maria told me that one of the best things to do in Kosrae is to go diving/snorkeling and then a kayak ride through the UNESCO world heritage area. I decided to go snorkeling in the morning and the kayak tour in the late afternoon. We set out early in the morning with a group of four consisting of an older American couple, an Ukranian guy Dima, Mark (the owner) and me. It was a 30 minute car ride to the boat harbor and another 25 minutes or so to the snorkeling point. The weather was cloudy and it started drizzling so the snorkeling was not perfect, but the visibility was about 10 meters once I got inside the water. It was warmer in the water than the cold rain. We snorkeled at two spots but the reef was alright. Of all my snorkeling trips, I have to say that the one in Fiji was by far the best. This was decent, but nothing to brag home about. It rained quite hard during our trip out at sea and I was soaked and did not feel like going on a canoe ride. I was cold and did not feel well. I decided to skip the kayak and go back to the hotel to relax and take a nap.
Upon getting up from a short nap, I went down to the Bully’s Restaurant, got a kayak and went into the river. The river was very calm and there was not a single person in sight. It was very quiet and I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. In reality, I was in the middle of nowhere. I did not see a single soul as I kayaked down the river for about 500 meters and then turned around. It was pretty relaxing and I needed the exercise before dinner.
At dinner, I met up with the older American couple and Dima again. That night was Italian night, so I had the Italian platter with sashimi. The Italian platter was also very good. I had the zuchini lasagna and there was this taro bread, which was truly amazing. I saw that at breakfast, but did not try it, but I did the next morning. Wow, it was so delicious. I have to say that the food at the lodge was truly amazing. I already miss it.
Just to give you an update, the traditional food in Micronesia included the usual stuff in the Pacific, which were breadfruit, coconut, banana, yam, taro, pork, rice, fish and more fish. I did not have a chance to sample that, but hope to do it the next time I visit Micronesia.
I had an early night since I had to wake up at 3:30am to make it to my 5:00am flight to the Marshall Islands with Nauru Airlines. Mark was kind enough in giving me a ride to the airport. Luckily for him, this was the last early morning flight since Nauru Airlines will no longer make a stop in Kosrae any more. It makes sense because I got off with only six people and only five got on. Of which, two of them were employees of Nauru Airlines.
Next up will be the Marshall Islands.
- Currency – United States Dollars
- Money Exchange – I’m sure there must be one in the city center, but it was a 20-minute drive from the resort. I had USD with me so I did not change any money. ATMs can be found at the supermarkets and close to the resort.
- Internet – Luckily, there was free internet at the lodge. The other lodge Nautilus had free wifi as well.
- Language – Kosraen and other languages on the different islands. Most most people speak English.
Where to stay
There are not that many options in Kosrae. The only options I saw on TripAdvisor were the Treelodge and Nautilus Resort, which were both reasonable around the $85-115 range for a private room. The Nautilus Resort had lots of US Navy personnel working on projects.
Where to eat
Since I did not have a car, eating out was very limited. I ate every single meal at Bully’s Restaurant, since I was only in Kosrae for 50 hours. The food was excellent there and I could eat there every day. Some of the long term guests ate at Nautilus Resort from time to time. I’m not sure about the quality.
- If you can, bring snacks and food from abroad, but it’s not necessary. The supermarkets in Kosrae sell all the American goodies for about 30% more than American prices.
- Make sure to stay at least two nights. My trip was very short and cramped. I wish I had more time, but was not willing to stay there for nine nights.
- Rent a car from the lodge.
I visited in March 2017.