Manta Ray Bay Hotel Dive Resort & Spa
July 18 to July 25th, 2015
By Margo Peyton, Owner and founder of Kids Sea Camp
The first time I heard the word Yap: I really thought it sounded like the name of a fruit or some exotic critter. “What is a Yap?” I asked my good friend, Jerry Beaty of Dive Training Magazine. He laughed in that jolly, contagious laugh he has and said, “Yap, my dear Margo, is a place”. He then added that Yap was a place he thought I would very much enjoy and that I should go. That was 2003; I have been diving for approximately 25 years now and consider myself well-traveled. I only recently within the past 7 years started exploring the South Pacific. Each year, Jerry would stop in at one of the many trade shows I attend and again put that word in my head, “Yap”.
In 2010 he popped in at my Palau Sam’s Tours family diving event and said, “Did you know Yap is just next door?”
Where is Yap? Yap is one of the Federated States of Micronesia. It’s almost impossible to find on some information sources. I plugged it into Trip Advisor and a few others and it does not come up under Yap. I could not even find it in the PADI directory for dive stores under Yap.
Yap is a cluster of tiny islands that stretch for 600 miles in the vast Pacific Ocean. Yap proper, a group of four main islands within a barrier reef, is approximately 500 miles southwest of Guam, 300 miles northeast of Palau, and 800 miles due east of Cebu, Philippines. The other islands that comprise the state of Yap extend eastward towards Chuuk, with one atoll about 80 miles to the south. Yap lies just nine degrees north of the Equator.I travel from Charlotte, NC to Yap and that means flying to LAX, overnighting, and then on to HNL and from there to Guam and then to Yap and then to Palau… WOW! That’s what I said… Remember though, my rule of thumb is( I will never put anyone through something I’m not willing to do myself )especially when traveling with kids. THIS WAS SOOOOOO WORTH IT!
Manta Ray Bay is a perfect addition to our Palau Kids Sea Camp Family vacation. Our family dive adventures will include Yap this year on our way to Palau. June 21 th departure from LAX arriving in Yap on the 29th, we will stay 7 nights at Manta Ray Bay, with 6 days of diving. We have scheduled daily activities Sun-Fri and a family island tour on Sat, with late check out before heading on to Palau. Please see our on line photo gallery .Manta Ray Bay Resort — Is, the premiere dedicated dive resort on the island of Yap in Micronesia, designed by divers and built for divers. All of the dive facilities are conveniently located on property. Also offered, wildlife and nature kayaking, and a full range of island tours specifically designed to showcase Yap’s unique indigenous culture.
When you arrive in Yap: It’s a very tiny airport, one terminal and as you step off the plane by ascending down the stairway to the tarmac below, you are greeted by the Yapese woman or sometimes men in their full native dress. This is very much a part of their culture, the Yapese still where their traditional clothing around the island. The women traditional dress does not include their top half being fully covered. I did not find this to be taken in any offensive or inappropriate way by any visitor or family. The women have beautiful flowered covered Leigh’s that are draped over their neck, shoulders and chest; they are a very humble and modest people. As you walk through the customs area you are welcomed with a smile and adorned with a handmade flower tiara or Leigh that is placed on your head or around your neck.Manta Ray Bay Dive Resort.
Our rooms are ready and waiting for us, upon arrival. It is just after midnight, when we are taken to our rooms. No lifting luggage, it’s all taken care of. Presented with a comfy bed, and off to sleep the jet lag away. The rooms are themed with underwater scenes of manta or sharks etc. Manta Ray has Standard island view rooms, Ocean view rooms and Deluxe Ocean View rooms. I personally stay in the Ocean View or Deluxe rooms. I say that because you just don’t travel that far to not see what you see from an ocean view room. There is not much price difference but the ambiance is huge.. I love my room.
As keeping right in line with the places I chose for families, Manta Ray is family own, family run and family focused. Owner Bill Acker, a father, a husband and most important a family man has created a beautiful slice of paradise with his family and effortlessly shares that with each and every guest. The resort staff is professional and extremely knowledgeable. They only want one thing from you each day and that is to see the smile on your face that says they have pleased you. Each time you are greeted, or served by the Yapese staff, they do so in a manner that is very proud yet humble as if they were representing their entire people to you.
The spa is incredibly relaxing and well worth the experience as part of refreshing yourself from the long journey. There is also a coffee shop in the lobby that made me not miss Starbucks one bit.
Guests also enjoy Manta Ray Bay’s very own micro brewed beer right on the property. The Manta Ray Bistro, the Island’s finest restaurant with a great view of the lagoon, is also located on the main deck of the S/V Mnuw, a turn of the century South Seas Schooner that you will dine on. Breakfast is served on the main deck, lunch on the middle deck and dinner up at the Crow’s Nest, where I enjoyed the daily sunsets with a tropical drink. Kids enjoy the firing of the real cannons off the main deck at 4pm. Stand back, they are very loud.
The infinity pool with a waterfall slide and some coconut smoothies served to entertain the kids each afternoon along with fishing off the dock with the local kids.The dive operation and the diving are superb: I love the small boats (no crowds) fast and can get to some pretty awesome dive sites not easily reached with larger boats.
The dive crew is amazing! I did not touch my gear from the first day that I placed it in my locker. Each morning it was on the boat and waiting for me. I like my gear set a little higher on my tank and I prefer small tanks as I have a few disks in my back Id love to replace. I showed my dive master just once and that was all that was needed. I do enjoy the valet dive service; I’m now 46 and my cowgirl diving days are behind me. Give me the pampering any day. My gear was rinsed and clean even tuned up my regulator. At the end of the week, all I had to do was pack it.
Each dive was better than the next. No disappointments. Manta, manta and more manta, or did you want sharks. How could it get much better? Manta Ray Bay lives up to the name. I had never seen Manta until now and it’s a check mark off my bucket list.
Adults dove some of the best sites Yap had to offer including many of the staff favorites. Fresh baked bread and tea each day was presented when we returned from our first dive and a boat and crew ready to go right after lunch for those that did not get enough. The dive shop is called Yap Divers, they offer dive equipment rental, free NITROX, full service photo center and all PADI dive courses.
I truly enjoyed Yap. I highly recommend it for anyone and everyone. It’s safe it’s fun and its wonderful diving, culture and history. It is the perfect add on or stop over to Palau for either 7 night or 4 night stays. I hope you will join us this summer for Yap and Palau family weeks.
Other excursions included: A trip to a local village, snorkeling off beautiful beaches, a traditional canoe ride, a cultural journey full of history at the Stone Money Bank and we even toured some of the WW1 relics.
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