Paddleboarding Adventure to Yap, Micronesia
Grass skirts, stone money, and western influences. In this SUP adventure story, travel buddies Bart de Swart and Franz Orsi head to Yap in Micronesia to explore these beautiful islands by inflatable paddleboard.
“After our first trip with inflatables in Europe with a rail pass. We wanted to take it one step further and explore far away places in the world. This time we bought a round the world ticket with stopovers at all the continents.
Our first destination was Yap. This tiny island belongs to one of the 186 islands of Micronesia. And is known for their traditional culture. One of the last islands in the Pacific that still resists to the western ways.
At the airport we are welcomed by 2 bare chested women in grass skirts who hang two leis around our necks. With only two planes a week arriving in Yap, it is not a busy airport.
We get a ride from a policeman to a small piece of land in the middle of town where we inflate our tent for the first night (yes we also have an inflatable tent, at least the poles are).
In the next few days we travel to the North of the island, to a village, Wanead, where we ask permission to put up our tent. On Yap the land is owned by the people. You always have to ask permission to use the land or visit certain villages. As soon as we had made camp, we inflate our boards and paddle for hours along the coast.
Yap has a lush green interior full with palm and betel nut trees. The coast is mostly covered with mangroves and around the whole island is a protecting reef where you can find manta rays up to 20 feet wide. One big oasis with only 10,000 inhabitants and no industries.
The pace is slow on the island. Partly because there is not much too do other than fish and find foodPartly because almost everyone is chewing betel nuts. A subtle narcotic which produces orange stained teeth and lips. The Yaps do this all day every day.
When we paddle here we see the man-houses at the beech and the Seaworthy outriggers with which they, until very recently, sailed to the outer island and Guam or Palau, often 7-10 days at sea relying only on the stars for navigation.
One day we paddle to Rumung, the utmost northern island of Yap. This time with special permission and with a local inhabitant of Rumung. Without him no one can enter the island.
There we see the biggest stone money of the island. A form of payment with giant round carved stone with a hole in the middle. Stone money once the only form of payment, is still in use today for certain transactions or settling fights.
There is a lot more to say about this little paradise in the Pacific which we will safe for later
Now we are on our way to Kathmandu, Nepal where the story continues.
The gear we packed for a SUP World Trip
On this SUP World Trip, Franz and I keep it very simple and bring as little gear as we can.
We took 2 inflatable Starboard SUP boards. They are packed ready for traveling, in a back pack.
One 14’0 x 30 Touring deluxe with bungees front and back to bring gear for longer trips.
Perfect board longer tours almost anywhere, crossings, rivers, lake, open ocean
And one 10’5 x 30 Drive Zen, good allround board which also works in the waves, good for rivers and shorter tours.With these boards we cover most places we will find on our trip.
This time, we choose for the Starboard 3- piece Tiki Tech paddles. Theses are almost indestructible and easy to travel with because the pieces fit in the inflatable backpack.
Rest of the gear:
- Inflatable tent (3-man, so all the gear fits inside) HeimPlanet
- 2 ultra compact and light sleeping backs
- 2 short sleeping mats
- 2 leashes
- Suunto Ambits3 GPS watch
- Underwater goggles
- Utility knife, rope and repair kit
- Mini iPad and iPhone
- A few shirts and shorts
- And a lot of cables and other sh!? Franz brought along, ok he is the photographer, I understand
- One pair of long pants (at home I call them my fly pants)
- One shell jacket
- Trail running shoes and a pair of flip flops
- 2 DSLR Nikon Cameras
- 2 Go Pros
- 1 small Nikon underwater camera