World Surfaris Kirra Office Manager, Aaron Blakemore scores a P-Pass Trip of a lifetime!
GETTING OVER THERE -
The island of Pohnpei is now so much easier to get to. Air Niugini has recently begun their twice weekly services to the capital, Kolonia and it is now no longer a milk run through the many small islands of Micronesia that was usually the case. Utilising the latest Boeing 737’s outfitted with seat-back on-demand entertainment systems, great food and the friendly services of the flight crew, it gives you a preview of the standard of trip you are in store for.
WHERE YOU SLEEP -
Pohnpei Surf Club (PSC) is located at the Mangrove Bay Hotel situated right on the water’s edge of the harbour in downtown Kolonia. All rooms have twin double beds, ensuite bathroom and air conditioning. If you’re one to keep up with current affairs while away then some rooms have flat-screen TV and satellite cable. Wi-Fi Internet is freely available at no extra cost to guests and can be accessed from all parts of the property. The view from your balcony is spectacular with Sokeh Ridge and the accompanying Sokeh Rock dominating the harbour and if you like to fish, you can throw a line from the comfort of your deck chair. The upstairs level is where the reception is located and is manned from 7am to 10pm. Here you can buy water, beers and an assortment of souvenirs. PSC has their office downstairs and staff are on-site 24/7. Their fast surf boats are located here also in the marina next to the hotel.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK -
If you like a burger or fresh sashimi, then you can get it quite affordably. Although, fresh produce is difficult to get in this part of the world, the island is regularly provisioned by cargo ship and most items are available in restaurants or supermarkets around Kolonia. The best place for a feed was the Sashimi Restaurant adjacent to the Mangrove Bay Hotel which provided some of the best sushi and sashimi I have ever tasted outside of Japan. For an alternative, there is the Rusty Anchor on the hill behind the hotel which offered awesome views over the harbour. Nothing like a cold beer at the end of a day’s surfing watching the sunset over the island.
Pohnpei has several breaks to choose from with each one dependent on certain tides, swell and wind direction but most surfers are here to take on P-Pass. Located about 20-30 minutes by boat from the marina, you pull up to the break to reeling right-handers grinding down the reef. On a small to medium swell it is a fun, playful wave but can get shallow on the inside section. When the swell kicks in you are up for the waves of your life with an almost guaranteed “Pool Room Shot” of yourself slotted in the barrel. With, at most, 16 surfers staying at PSC you will be in the water with minimal crowding and maximum wave count. Surfers utilise the boats throughout the session to re-energise themselves with coconut water and banana bread before heading back into the line-up. The water is the clearest you’ll encounter and a dive off the boat with a snorkel and mask is highly recommended as the sea life and coral is spectacular. If by lunchtime you have had enough, one boat will head back to base while those keen to keep surfing will stay out for the afternoon session. It is a well-run operation and everybody gets their fair share of surfing tropical perfection.
Pohnpei has a rich history and was surprised to discover there was comparatively advanced civilisation living in a city built in a lagoon from large stones sources from the mountains approximately 1000 years ago, no-one knows how they managed to transport these rocks and why the city (known as the Venice of the Pacific by archaeologists) and its population eventually collapsed but the ruins are still there to this day to explore. Waterfalls are numerous and offer beautiful waterholes to swim in to gain respite from the tropical heat and humidity. Recent history is dominated by World War II when the Japanese occupied Pohnpei and forced the local population to build fortifications in the hills around the island against naval invasion by the Allied Forces. Evidence is still here to discover with large guns and rifle pits to yet fully devoured by the dense jungle. A quick hike up Sokeh Ridge is a must as you’ll be rewarded for the climb with amazing views of the surrounding lagoon, reef passes, airport and town of Kolonia.
Pohnpei is one of those “off-the-beaten track” destinations that is now so much easier for us to get to that now is the time to make that jump and tick it off your bucket list!