The State of Kosrae is one of four states in the Federated States of Micronesia and, as well as the island of Kosrae, consists of several islands and islets, the most significant being Lelu Island.
Roughly triangular in shape, Kosrae covers an area of approximately 110 square kilometres.
The most eastern of the Caroline Islands, Kosrae has a population of approximately 7000 people and is located north of the equator between Guam and the islands of Hawaii. The coral reefs that surround the island are kept in a pristine condition through an extensive mooring buoy system and the area is becoming a favourite destination for scuba divers from all around the world. The island’s interior is covered with deep vegetation and steep mountains that keep it largely undeveloped. European contact with Kosrae in 1824 reported a highly stratified society that was typical of the surrounding islands at that time. Its cultural features included matrilineal lineage and clans with a feudal structure of nobles who controlled the land that was worked by commoners. The settlements consisted of small groups of relatives who shared a single cookhouse, usually with at least one earth oven.
The first missionary post was established in 1852 after American missionaries felt the need to protect the people of Kosrae from the large numbers of whalers and beachcombers who had made the island, which they considered a paradise, their home.
Even today religion plays an integral role in the culture of Kosrae. Sunday is considered a day of rest and most stores and shops are closed on that day.
In 1874, the pirate Bully Hayes was shipwrecked on Kosrae when his ship, the Leonara, was stuck in Lelu harbour during a storm. During his stay of several months on the island, Nully terrorised the local people. He was finally arrested by Captain Dupuis aboard the HMS Rosario but managed to escape on a boat built of timber from the wrecked Leonara.
Traditional foods on the island include breadfruit, coconut, banana, taro, yam and sugarcane. Woodcarving, traditional canoe and cottage construction, fishing, farming and fine weaving using hibiscus, pandanus and coconut palms continue to be an integral way of life on the island.
The weather in Kosrae is warm and humid throughout the year with an average temperature of 25o C and rarely exceeding 32o C. It has two distinct seasons, dry and rainy and during the rainy season, November to April, be prepared for showers everyday.
Casual and summer clothing is worn throughout the year although swimsuits and shorts are not acceptable in the villages. Be respectful—cover your shoulders and knees, and don’t forget a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
Kosrae is a wonderful gem, yet to be discovered by most modern travellers. A visit guarantees the experience of a lifetime—from the unhurried, friendly lifestyle and warm, island hospitality that are as unforgettable as the magical Micronesian sunsets.
Visit Kosrae for its ecotourism, culture and history. Explore the ruins of Menke and Lelu for an amazing experience. Menke ruins consist of basalt walls and platforms for religious practices. It is site of worship of the Goddess Singlaku. Lelu ruins are a remnant of Kosrae’s architectural prowess evident as early as the 15th century.
Kids will love to hike the Mt. Finkol trail, which requires at least eight hours and a tour guide. See the mangroves in the James Palsis and the Utwe-Walung marine parks. Go to the Wiya Bird Cave to see the home of the swiftlets of the island. A visit to YELA Ka Forest is a must. It is the only island in the world with tree species of Terminalia Carolinses. Other places of interest are the clam farm, the Sipyen waterfall and of course the beaches of Kosrae. The beaches are stretches of silver sand and offer breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
Kosrae has many hotels and restaurants offering great food of different varieties. Try Bully’s restaurant for some excellent seafood. Inum is the place to taste great international and local flavors where there is a different menu every night. Other places to eat are the Awane and the Nautilus restaurants.
Activities in Kosrae
Kosrae is every diving lover’s dream come true. There are more than 50 incredible dive sites on the island. Experience the marine life in the region such as eagle rays, sharks and barracuda. Go to Hiroshi Point to see coral reefs, parrot fish, squids and reef sharks. Shark Island is a great spot for night diving. Go see the remnants of a sunken pirate ship at the Leonora, Utwe Harbor. For different varieties of fish, turtles and some incredible marine life unique to the region, head over Walung Drop-Off. The current at these places can be rough, so pay attention to children and always dive with a trained instructor.