Island of Stone Money – Yap, Micronesia

Island of Stone Money
Yap, Micronesia

Yap – The island of Stone Money and Home to the giant Manta Rays. This tiny island located in the Micronesian Region of the Pacific Ocean is one of the last islands in the Pacific whom under 5 occupations fought to retain as much of it’s culture as possible. Yap is famous for it’s Stone Money which was quarried mostly in Palau and brought back on traditional sailing canoes. The Stone Money is regarded as the largest coin on the planet. There were an estimated of over 3000 pieces of stone money quarried and transported to Yap over 270 nautical miles of open ocean between Palau and Yap. The largest of the stone money today lies in the village of Riy on the forbidden island of Rumung – over 15 feet in diameter, 2 feet in thickness, and weighting over 2 tons. This stone money can be viewed with special arrangments but could not be photographed as requested by the guardians of this peice of stone money.

Yap still holds the secrets of celestial navigation which made it possible to navigate 100 of miles on open ocean without any man made navigational equipments, just the use of natural phenomenas, wind, currents, clounds, stars, and birds. Yap has made it possible for other Pacific islands to find their roots of navigation and to prove to the world that they did not just shipwrecked or canoewrecked on their island but travelled there. The art of celestial navigation, the mind set of crossing tons of lime stone on open ocean, and the organizations that ruled Yap thousands of years ago, can still be seen and experienced today. In the only town in Yap named Colonia – there lined up at the marina fiberglass boats with 4 stroke engines and a canoe made of breadfruit wood and tied together with coconut fiber rope, evidence of the old and new coexisting together. The traditional canoes are still in use today in mostly the outer islands of Yap. They carry passengers and food between the islands, an efficient and non-pollutant way of travel.

With the Stone Money
With the Stone Money
To date – Yap is playing a balancing act of retaining its culture and developing a sustaining economy that involves US dollars. There has been many clashings of culture and development project which is sometimes good and sometimes bad. There is one thing though that is helping Yap earn a small cash flow. Giant Manta Rays – Yap is home to over 30+ resident manta rays. Scuba Divers from around the world come to this small destination to have their close encounter with these giant creatures. The mantas can be seen all year round in Yap and they can be most seen in abundance between December and May as it is these months that the mantas come to mate. Scuba Diving is a sport that have attracted visitors to Yap about 5000 a year, it is also a clean sport that does not pollute and harm the islands environment. It is with these kinds of development Yap can finally see somethings that could help sustain the culture and have a healthy economy.

Through all the efforts of Yap to develop while being sensitive to it’s island values, there’s a small little hotel owned and operated by a Yapese family who has taken this concept to heart. The Pathways Hotel is taking a new and different direction towards tourism and hotel development in Yap. Carefully built local style cottages in which you can leisurely examine the thatching, the coconut rope lashings, and intricate patterns of reeds, bamboo, and nipa leaves. The property utilizes 75% of local resource to build and develop it’s property. A great place to see the culture, do some diving, and enjoy the ambiance of Yap.

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