Family Trippin in Micronesia with Kids Sea Camp
A Divers paradise and whole-family eco-adventures
Manta Ray Bay Resort, Yap. 2016: Yap and Palau have the strongest cultural bonds in Micronesia, are geographically next door to each other and both offer unique family travel opportunities. Come here for the natural beauty, island culture and iconic diving in marine sanctuaries on an eco-adventure. The Micronesia experience is embodied in nature, culture, and conservation. Yap and Palau put an exclamation point on your family’s trip with something for everybody, divers and non-divers alike, in a traditional or developed setting.
Although these destinations have a lot of advanced diver allure, they come with special cultural and land-based opportunities for every traveler. Nothing says to bring the whole family more than non-diver adventures that rival the experiences of Vertigo, Blue Corner or an Oolong Channel drift.
Each day of a Family Divers package has eco-activities for small children, teen, and adult non-divers — In Yap and Palau that means kayaking through the rock islands or a rich mangrove forest, taking a WWII history tour or visiting a traditional village, being “local” for a day – learning about village life or a traditional skills and engaging people on a unique cultural excursion – enjoying a private beach, snorkeling with manta rays, reef sharks, chambered nautilus and giant clams, discover scuba diving and blue water fishing, to name a few.
Yap will help you forget about bling and the busy world. Here you’ll find a mix of fellow adventure travelers relaxing in the natural energy that comes with visiting an undeveloped island. Your world shrinks down to 38 square miles of mangroves and gold sand beaches with a rainforest backdrop speckled with coconut trees, and your front yard is a glassy lagoon. It won’t take long until nature’s rhythm dominates and you’ll notice your body feeling the tide changes and the afternoon sun falling behind the island.
Yap and Palau offer our modern lifestyle some counterbalance – busyness and our multi-tasking the world gives way to the moment and you might find yourself feeling and trying something new to you – after all, that’s why we travel, to learn something, engage ourselves and embrace the world we live in.
This is where family time includes understanding our eco-system, what threatens it and what we can do to change that – then diving or snorkeling with protected animals. Yap and Palau have taken big steps in marine conservation through locally grown island initiatives. Yap established the world’s first government-backed manta ray sanctuary that now includes shark and turtle protection, legislation that leads to these animals safely interacting in an uber close proximity of divers every day.
Kids Sea Camp safely mixes kids and sharks through education and adventure via local marine mammal experts and professional dive guides in Yap. “Vertigo” is a blue water classroom where divers of all levels safely interact with schools of reef sharks on a wall dive. Before entering the water divers and snorkelers learn about the site, shark behavior and how to safely observe and photograph these animals, as a family.
Get some blue sky and clear water “me time” through careful activity planning. Parents dive on a private boat and dive plan. Kids dive with extra guides on their own boats at different sites and non-divers begin their adventure right after breakfast. Mixing it up brings the family together in the middle of the adventure. See your kids in a village on their surface interval and they might tell you that they just swam with a whale shark, while you show them a local craft that you made at the village center.
At the end of the day, photography lights up the dinner table on the backs of SeaLife cameras, smartphones with GoPro footage or tablets being passed around, while only fragments of the stories can be heard through the excitement.
Parents, kids, divers, non-divers, everyone gets their adventure. Whether you went to the reef, eco-touring, fishing or getting your zen on at the spa. Yap and Palau; do them both and get two countries, two islands, two cultures… in one vacation.
Story and photos By Brad Holland