At the heart of the vast, Pacific seascape just north of the equator that is Micronesia, Chuuk, also known by its former name of Truk, is one of the island country’s four federated states. Chuuk consists of a number of smaller islands, surrounded by a large coral atoll dotted with sandbars, coconut palms, and reefs galore. The result is a magnificent enclosed cove setting that’s renowned for its rich World War II history, and the dozens of wreck-based dive sites that are scattered throughout the lagoon. With more World War II shipwrecks than any other location worldwide, diving into the aqua coloured waters of Truk Lagoon can be a beautiful but rather mysterious experience. The hulls of these sunken vessels are completely overgrown with vivid hard and soft corals, anemones and crinoids, transforming the long-submerged hulks into incredible underwater museums that boast an enormous collection of artifacts. With the chance to uncover hundreds of caches of tanks, trucks, weapons, and even fine china, both day and night diving in Truk Lagoon offers hours of memorable exploration.
So Many Wrecks, So Little Time
Beginners and advanced divers alike will delight in discovering the Fujikawa Maru, a 7,000 tonne warship that now rests upright in 40 meters (130 feet) of water, at the bottom of the lagoon. Not to be missed, are the intact deck guns as well as several fighter planes still found in the hold, relatively undamaged. Another astonishing must-see is the hull of the San Francisco Maru. Often referred to as the “Million Dollar Wreck”, this cargo vessel was scuttled with a full load of cargo, including everything from mines and torpedoes to tanks. You can explore the deck guns as well as the hold, now covered in soft coral and overrun with colourful parrot fish. The Heian Maru is a former passenger liner and is the largest ship in Truk Lagoon. Resting on its side, this wreck features a store of deadly long lance torpedoes and a cargo of submarine periscopes. Whether your interest lies in large military vehicles, smaller ammunition artifacts, or intact and photogenic ship sections, the wrecks of Truk Lagoon have it all, amidst a lush coral setting.
Lots of Ways to Explore
Visitors to Chuuk fly into the airport on the island of Weno, where they are instantly rewarded with views of lush rolling hills, and the simple lifestyle of the region’s scant population of just 50,000 native residents. In addition to land-based dive operations that visit the area’s most popular sites on a daily basis, divers can also take advantage of scuba packages offered by liveaboard vessels like the Truk Odyssey and the SS Thorfinn, both of which service the wreck sites of the Truk Lagoon. The Odyssey runs a seven day tour of the lagoon and its neighbouring islands and dive sites, while the Thorfinn can be boarded any day of the week, even for shorter durations. These trips are great for groups, and provide all the necessities for a comfortable and relaxing dive vacation. As an alternative, visitors may wish to stay at the Blue Lagoon Resort, Chuuk’s official dive resort location. Also located on Weno, vacations arranged through the resort include transportation to and from the airport, and feature dive boats that depart right from the resort dock.
Beyond the Lagoon
Regardless of your vacation preference however, you should not overlook the opportunity to explore further afield and dive some of Chuuk’s outer reefs. Here, you’ll find pelagics and other marine life darting among the cascading coral walls, set against an endless blue abyss. When the time comes to enjoy the land-based discovery of Chuuk, traveling from island to island by ocean kayak is a great way to enjoy both the cultural history and the rich, tropical scenery of Micronesia. Other exciting options topside include sailing and windsurfing, hiking to Japanese lighthouses perched on scenic outlooks high above the lagoon, and the chance to uncover hidden aircraft runways, command centres, gun installments, and secret military cave networks.
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