Would popular attractions be more interesting if they were submerged in water? Would you visit an underwater art gallery? How about at underwater restaurant? Or an underwater museum?
While this author has yet to find evidence of the first two suggestions, the idea of a museum on the sea floor isn’t all that far-fetched. It could certainly be argued that shipwrecks are historic displays. And what of a collection of wrecks in a proximal vicinity?
If ever there were an underwater museum it would be in Chuuk.
Representing a number of islands in the South Pacific, Chuuk is one of Micronesia’s four states. Located on a lagoon, the minute masses of land are surrounded by crystal-clear waters.
Perhaps due to Chuuk’s tiny isolated islands, the state is far from economically sound. To the advantage of the traveler, this means that general prices are low. As tourism in Chuuk increases steadily, it’s just a matter of time before the world starts paying attention to the Micronesian region.
Scuba Diving in Chuuk
With a number of diving companies lined up around the islands, it won’t be too tough to get out on the waters. Day trips offer one to four dives per day, while liveaboards provide the option of staying on the water and diving multiple times over the course of a few days.
Unfortunately, prices offered for diving tours don’t reflect the cost of goods and services on land. Look at paying anywhere from $150 for a single day of diving to $3000 for a week-long all-inclusive liveaboard experience.
It’s a given that a lagoon in the South Pacific is going to have fantastic coral reefs. It’s also a given that you’ll expect to see a slew of tiny colorful fish. However, in Chuuk, you can witness a variety of wrecks. These specimens are remnants of World War II and now serve as a sort of underwater museum.
Because some of the shipwrecks are found on deep ocean beds, as a novice diver you may be limited in what you’re allowed to see.
Diving the Wrecks
To kick off your trip, why not explore some sunken planes? Or how about some ships? Maybe float along a sea floor littered with live ammunition and explosives? OK, maybe you should avoid that last one. Or at least observe from a distance.
One of the more popular wrecks is the I169 Submarine. The now-defunct hunk of metal sits at a distance of 125 feet (38m). An exploration of the submarine will reveal an abundance of coral as well as a number of tiny fish.
Another beloved underwater attraction is the Heian Maru. The largest of Chuuk’s submerged wrecks, the vessel is over 500 feet (155m) long. Laying on its side, divers can still make out the ship’s name written on the bow. You’re also likely to come across both artillery shells and torpedoes.
When To Go
Chuuk can be visited at any time of the year. With consistent weather, you are only limited by your personal schedule. As the area is not a popular tourist destination, you need not worry about peak seasons.
Average temperatures during any given month will range between 73°F (22°C) and 88°F (31°C). Micronesia has no particular rainy season.
Getting There & Around
Fly to the Chuuk International Airport to start your journey. Arriving on the island of Weno, you’ll be able to grab a cheap taxi to your hotel.
- Mid-range accommodations: $80-120
- Meal: $10-15
- Beer: $3
- Get your diving certification.
- Check to see whether additional certifications are required to dive in desired regions.
- Book your trip well ahead of time.
- Expect many land-based activities.
- Limit yourself to one or two dives.
- Book accommodations on shore if you’re hoping to complete a number of dives.
- As there is no exclusively Micronesian currency, American dollars are used.
- As of 2012, Micronesia had a staggering migration rate of around -21 migrants per 1000 citizens.
- Micronesia’s modest exports include fish, bananas and clothing.
Feature Image Credit: mattk1979