Kosrae's attractions are varied and numerous, focusing on history, culture, and
the environment. Kosrae can fulfill true ecotourism interests: Trekking through
jungles and mountains, quietly canoeing in the mangrove channels, marveling
at ancient ruins, or diving huge pristine hard coral reefs and snorkeling with spinner dolphins are just some of
the many activities awaiting the traveler.
Or you may wish to simply do nothing at all and
unwind from the hectic pace of today's world. Basking
in the equatorial sun, snorkeling in the colorful reefs
or just lounging around the appealing grounds at Nautilus may be the ticket
need to refresh yourself. Be forewarned: It's contagious!
On the western side of the island is a pre-historic 130-acre forest of Terminalia
Carolinensis trees, or Ka trees as they're locally know, that is only accessible
by boat. It offers visitors spectacular scenery of the 100-foot-high canopy
formed by densely leafed branches that only grow from the very top of these
massive trunks. Supported by huge buttress roots, these trees are only
found in three places on the planet, and this is the world's only existing
The land owners now offer tours by boat and then by foot into this
pristine forest. Tours vary
from 1.5 to 3 hours, depending on how deep you
want to venture into the forest. We are very fortunate not to have snakes or
crocodiles on Kosrae, so adventuring here is very enjoyable for all.
One of the wonders of the Neolithic world, the Lelu ruins are an archaeologist's
dream. Built by hand over the course of several hundred years, the city
of Lelu was crafted from multi-ton basalt prisms that were transported
from the other side of the island. The religious and political capital with
its impressive walls standing 20 feet high, royal tombs and residences
of the king and his family, and intricately cut channels for canoes to
transport food and other necessities will capture your imagination
like no other site on Kosrae. The walled city represented the peak of cultural
development and architectural achievement during the last years of the
And the best part of experiencing the site is its
accessibility. Located in the heart of Lelu Village near Ace office supplies, visitors will be transported
to another world within minutes of wandering its coral-clad walkways.
While walking within
the ruins, look for the large sakau-pounding stone
at the entrance to Insaru, which holds
the pyramidal tombs of the kings. The
bodies were placed in crypts, and when they had decayed, the remaining
taken to the blue hole near today's swimming dock located at the Lelu Causeway.
info and photos
Near the ruins, off a small trail behind the cemetery,
is the 355-foot high Lelu Hill. Transformed by the Japanese
during World War II. The hill contains air raid shelters, tunnels,
trenches, and foxholes. Weapons have been removed, but the echoes
of the 1940s still resound strongly. The jungle growth is thick,
so wear appropriate clothing and tote a machete and flashlight.
Menke Ruins Hike
Menke Ruins is located in the
very heart of Kosrae and is accessible from the Utwe Village
circumferential road. Salik Wakuk will be your guide for
the 3-hour trek through the lush tropical rain forest, which crosses the
Utwe River several times. Along the way Salik will point out various flora
and fauna and explain their importance for local medicine and food sources.
Menke Ruins is a reminder of Kosrae's
past: there you will see some basalt walls, chambered living
quarters and religious platforms. This area was built years
before Lelu and is considered a religious site where ancient
Kosraens worshipped "Singlaku," the Goddess of Breadfruit.
She is believed to have magical powers and be able to produce
food during periods of dry weather. It is also suggested she
fled to Yap at the time of the first missionary's arrival,
although some believe she is still here.
The hike takes about one hour each way and
is an easy walk, it is suited to all types of people,
but crossing the river after heavy rain can be a little
tricky. Ask Salik
to cut a walking stick, as it will be easier to maintain
your balance. On return, Salik will provide some local
from his garden.
What to bring: older
clothes and sturdy shoes, as the hike can be muddy
and wet (the red clay
is hard to wash out), drinking water, hat, camera & film,
insect repellent, and a plastic bag for your camera in case of
rain. Please be advised there are no bathroom facilities (only
nature’s own) as is the case with all Kosrae's hikes.
Tafunsak Gorge Hike
Tafunsak Gorge is one of Kosrae's best hikes; and it takes place mainly along the river. The
first part follows the main pipeline for about an hour until reaching a small
water catchment area for the village of Tafunsak and then into the Gorge itself.
The 70-foot sheer walls and winding
stream are picturesque, with hanging ferns and orchids protruding
from the cliff face. Continue along for another 15 minutes
until the end where the waterfalls are.
This hike is strenuous but suited to
the young at heart (we have had a 65-year-old do it). It is
also wet and can be muddy, so old clothes and sturdy shoes
are a must. Take a zip-lock bag for your camera, packed inside
a backpack, hat, sunscreen, bottled water, and a change of
clothes if you want to come back dry. Beware of heavy rain
as the river is subject to flash flooding.
Stop off at the Wiya Bird Cave on the way
home; it is located near the quarry in Tafunsak. This
cave is home to many Swiftlet birds who build their
nests from saliva
and moss on the walls of the cave. They can be easily
disturbed when approached (try not to look up if they
are flying overhead).
The hike to the top of Mt. Oma, 1555 ft above sea
level, will reward you with breathtaking views of Kosrae's
lower areas and waters from Utwe Harbor to the Lelu causeway. Follow Hamilson Phillip as he
takes you along the old Japanese trail winding up to the
This hike is strenuous and for the mostly fit and young at heart, and it
will take approximately 5 to 6 hours.
Keep an eye out for the Tuhram, Kosrae's
state bird, large monitor lizards sleeping on the
tree branches and fruit bats hanging upside down from the branches.
Japanese Caves & Cascading
Halfway up Mt. Oma scattered about the hillside are
many caves that were dug into the mountain to protect
the Japanese occupants from Allied forces during
WW II. They were dug mostly by Kosraean and Gilbertese Islanders who had been
displaced from their homeland and resettled here.
One cave in particular has
a bed that was carved out of the tunnel's side, and this tunnel winds
its way back and opens up through a narrow opening farther up the hill. Most of the caves are in remarkably good condition for their age, and there are still many that have yet to be rediscovered.
Another 15-minute walk will take you to the
cascading waterfalls, a series of three falls, each
with a small rock pool to cool off. This hike is moderate
and suitable for
most everyone; ask Hamilson to cut a walking stick
from a local branch, which makes it much easier.
If school is
out Hamilson's kids may
perform a song or two at the end. He also has a waiver
to sign prior to starting.
What to bring: hats, sunscreen, camera/film,
plastic bag, tennis shoes or similar (no rubber thongs), backpack,
drinking water and a sense of adventure.
|Finkol Hiking Trail
Hiking Mt. Finkol is for the adventurous, experienced, and fit traveler since
this is Kosrae's highest peak. The hike up the near 2,000-foot, mist-shrouded
mountain requires a tour guide and about eight hours (round-trip). The trail
is steep and can be difficult during rainy weather, but it is well worth the
time. As you slowly work your way up the trail, check out the varied flora
and fauna. Once the summit is reached, you will be rewarded with a panoramic
view of the island. Access is gained on the new road in Utwe.
The Utwe-Walung Marine Park offers visitors a look at some of Micronesia's
most pristine forests and mangrove ecosystems. Located between Utwe and Walung
villages, the park is a community-based conservation area, recognized by the
people and state of Kosrae for its outstanding and sustainable biodiversity.
You can select from a variety of tour offerings
at the park seeing the mangrove channels by traditional
canoes, trekking to ancient stone ruins built centuries ago
deep in the rainforest, snorkeling in crystal-clear, 83F degree
waters over colorful reefs teeming with life, or strolling along
the isolated beaches near Walung Village.
You can unwind at the park's headquarters.
Set on the shore a stone's throw from the famous Bully
Hayes' shipwreck site, the building's architecture
mirrors the past
with a steep-pitch woven roof, and an open-area interior
that is breezy and comfortable. Bathroom facilities
|Wiya Bird Cave
The bird cave located in Tafunsak about three miles from the airport and just
before the quarry is home to thousands of Island Swiftlets. The mouth of
the cave has a large opening that goes back about 60 feet; the floor is soft,
but is covered with bird droppings and is considered unsafe to walk on. It
is believed that the cave once cut through the island. Local lore says that
giants used to live there and were thought to have taught Kosraeans how to
count from one to ten. A sign adjacent to the cave will inform you of the
legend. Parking is adjacent to the site off the main road.
Toror Hiking Trail
Though a dam now conserves water at Toror in Malem, it was once a Japanese command
post during the Second World War. Hike is about 10 minutes and is considered easy for all ages.
has it a family of giants lived in the Wiya Bird
Cave before it collapsed and they
taught the early Kosraens how to count from 1 to 10.
why we have a giant language!
Though you can see Walung from the airport in Tafunsak, it is considered remote,
since access is mostly gained by boat at high tide or by a dirt road that
can be rough in spots. Walung, joined to the main island with thick mangrove
forests, is home only to Kosraeans, who live a traditional lifestyle. Walung
embodies the more traditional pace and customs of Kosrae before development.
White sandy beaches cover a three-mile stretch, and the ocean waters are
extremely clear and calm for all ages to enjoy. The village has a "Stay
with Families" program for staying with locals to see traditional
A footpath adjacent to the beach allows visitors
to stroll the outer limits of the island. Historical
sites abound and waterfalls offer a cooling respite.
Permission is required
by the village representative to visit the village.
Knee-length shorts or lava-lavas are appropriate beach
and swimwear. Exercise
caution when exposed to the equatorial sun.
Located just 10 minutes drive from Menke entrance. A short 5-minute walk up
a small river will lead you to the 30-foot-high falls, where you can dip
in a small pool and be invigorated by the cool, clear water after a hard
day's touring. Best to bring a change of clothes and a towel.