Kosrae has a few interesting land-based activities, but it is the waters surrounding the island that hold some of the real beauty of this forgotten tropical paradise. Whether you enjoy kayaking, snorkeling, diving or just a beautiful tableau, exploring Kosrae by sea offers visitors many one-of-a-kind marine experiences.
Kosrae’s mangrove channels are one of its most unique features. The peaceful, winding channels host a vibrant ecosystem and play a valuable role in protecting the coastline. The channels were once used for transportation across the island, though the development of roads has made this purpose obsolete. Now locals may still be found fishing or catching mangrove crabs in the dense mangrove forests, but generally visitors can explore the winding rivers alone.
Guided mangrove tours are offered near Walung, but in our experience taking out one of the free kayaks (for guests) from Nautilus or Pacific Treelodge is the better option. One can spend hours exploring the Mutunnenea Channel, as black terns dart overhead and herons stealthily stalk small fish in the shallows. It is important to note that the current in the channels change with the tide, so kayakers should be mindful of time and know in advance when to expect a change. The current at times can be swift, so it’s usually best to paddle upstream from the departure point so the ride back isn’t too taxing.
Ask a local to recount the tale of how the Mutunnenea Channel was formed by the anxious snake mother searching for her beautiful daughter kidnapped by the Kosraen High Chief.
The Blue Hole and Swimming Pool
The Blue Hole, in my opinion, is the gem of Kosrae. After some very stressful work days, the Blue Hole was my therapy. My worries were quickly forgotten as soon as I dove into the deep blue waters, gliding along with an eagle ray or marveling at the sheer size of the resident puffer fish.
Located directly across from the Nautilus, this exceptional snorkel and dive spot is accessible by walking about 200 m across a seagrass bed. Lining the 60 ft. deep hole is an array of beautiful coral heads, tropical fish, juvenile eagle rays, stingrays, huge pufferfish and the occasional juvenile reef shark. A swim around the entire hole can take up to 3 hours. The current is normally very minimal, although a quickly outgoing tide can catch a tired snorkeler off guard, so again be wary of the time of the tides. Nautilus rents snorkel gear for $5 daily and Pacific Tree Lodge rentals are free for guests.
A pier with stair access into a shallow swimming area is located a few hundred meters south from the Nautilus. This swimming area is used for competitions during the Micronesian Games, but on a normal day local boys congregate here to dare each other into diving off the platform and other typical boyish tomfoolery.
Diving with Kosrae Village Resort
I started diving many years ago, and Rufio and I flirted with starting/finishing our certifications a number of times before we landed on Kosrae. I wasn’t going to miss seeing species of coral that only exist around this tiny map dot, so I began corresponding with Bruce and Katrina at Kosrae Village Resort before my arrival to try to squeeze in as much instruction around my work schedule as I could. Theses American dive masters went out of their way to accommodate my work schedule, and though we didn’t get the entire certification completed, I was able to get in two dives. I spotted a large eagle ray, a huge Napoleon wrasse, sea turtles, tons of colorful reef fish and some of the most spectacular coral in the world.
Not only are the dives spectacular, but Bruce and Katrina are wonderful hosts. After your dive enjoy dinner at their restaurant and lend Bruce an ear to learn about the history of diving and their inspirational tale of following their passion.
Sunset Cruise with Pacific Treelodge/Nautilus
The sunset cruise is typically hosted by Pacific Treelodge, but on my first visit to the island Maria and her husband were on holiday, so Ted from the Nautilus (filling in for his brother Doug, also on holiday) graciously offered to take over the service while they were away.
The sunset cruises also leave from Utwe harbor and moor at Hiroshi Point or the Malem reefs for snorkeling before the sun begins to sink. When the sun lowers, guests climb back on the boat for fresh-speared sashimi, banana bread, beer and wine. We were lucky enough to watch the sunset in the west as a full moon rose over the mountain peaks to the east. It was a panorama like no other. I enjoyed the scenery and camaraderie so much I opted to take the cruise a second time later in the week. The price is $25 for snorkeling, food, drink and wonderful company.