As many of you know, deep sea fishing is, after diving, my favorite hobby and last Saturday together with my son-in-law Francis, our former maintenance manager Teolu and William, one of our boat captains, we tried our luck. Where basically every dive you do on Yap guarantees you to see beautiful marine life, fishing is still called fishing instead of catching, as the outcome is always uncertain. One small Wahoo was a disappointing catch, but not being busy with reeling in the big boys, I had time to think about what to share with you.
I am beginning to see positive signs of the world trying to return to normal or at least as normal as it is going to get for a while. I told you in my previous blog that the National Government has stepped up to the plate to support affected businesses such as us and they will be aiding our staff in the form of unemployment benefits. The staff have completed the 4-page applications, but the actual payments have not begun as I write this. Reading and watching the news that other islands, countries and dive destinations are opening up again is also a positive sign. I wish the business owners of the world all the best as things get back to normal, but I cannot deny that sometimes I am thinking, “why not us?”
The answer to that question is simple, but also complicated to understand. As you all know we are one of the few places in the world that have remained Coronavirus free and the decision makers are very proud of that. They should be, although it came with a huge cost to the economy, especially the tourism sector. I am afraid the Coronavirus is, and will remain, a part of our lives and even when a vaccine is developed it will not disappear. It’s great that we managed to stay free of this awful virus, but it’s time to develop not only a vaccine, but also an exit strategy. Most of my time is spent working with the State and National leadership to develop that exit strategy. The complicated part of the answer “why not us?” lies in the same reason why Yap is so special and unique; remote, pure, and traditional. People on island are hesitant to open and are carefully watching as re-opening efforts around the world begin to take place. I will keep advocating that an exit strategy be developed as it is not only good for our business and employees, but most of all, it is because we miss you.
We Miss You!
The Coronavirus pandemic and resulting travel bans have changed dive travel as we know it and we at the Manta Ray Bay Resort & Yap Divers are using this time to plan for changes which will improve the customer experience. A revised dive plan is number one on the list and is the major change you will immediately notice.
Our normal dive day will now include wake-up coffee/tea in your room, breakfast, 3 dives including lunch, ordered from a menu, served on the dive boats between the 2nd and 3rd dives. NITROX is also included for all Enriched Air certified divers.
After a 3-tank dive day enjoy our home brew and dinner on the Mnuw
This change is a result of the overwhelming demand and success of our SuperSize packages from the past. You will have the option to opt out of 3 tanks per day but due to distance, cost of flights and the multitude of exciting dive sites in Yap, we wish to make it easier for you and your dive buddies to get the most for your vacation dollar. For our revised rates please visit https://www.mantaray.com/rates/. Also, please note that we are taking reservations for the future and these reservations will be easy to change, if travel bans require.
Belated Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there. My family got together for the day and it is one of those times when I realize how blessed I am as a husband, father and grandfather. Hope you enjoyed your day as much as my family and I did.
While sitting here on my porch with a nice cup of coffee, watching the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean and trying to decide what to write to all of you very special people, it dawned on me just how lucky we are here in Yap to have such good Internet connections to the world. Without the Internet, we would have very little clue as to what is happening beyond the reef. In the old days, our news came via radio and the Voice of America. Now, we can follow world events live and sitting here, it is my understanding that most of the world is beginning to come out of lockdown and working to slowly bring life back to normal. At least that is my hope of what is happening, and I wish to urge anyone reading this that the virus is not yet contained so please continue to be safe and stay well.
In Yap, we have managed to avoid the virus altogether. We have had people quarantined and we did have a curfew for a few weeks but all is back to normal now and we are still Corona-free, have been since the beginning and we will remain Corona-free for the foreseeable future due to the absence of passenger flights. No divers or other visitors, but at least life here has remained reasonably “normal”. If you have followed my previous blogs on the subject, you will know that most of our employees have been laid-off since early March. This has been a big strain on my family and I as these are not just employees. They are trusted associates, friends and in some cases blood relatives but all are thought of as family. Worrying about their health and well being and that of their children has not been the easiest but there is now a bright light at the end of this tunnel.
We are thankful that the National Government has devised a scheme to support affected businesses and while the assistance is but a fraction of the revenue lost, it is enough to keep us floating. More importantly though is that our employees will start receiving unemployment benefits from the National Government. We are the first company on Yap that is going to be able to assist our employees with unemployment benefits and all those who are eligible will get those benefits within a few weeks. We keep trying to support our employees, but there is a limit to what we can do, so I am very happy that they will get unemployment benefits soon.
For those who have not read, or received our special newsletter, I want to share with you our new, relaxed booking policies. The deposit to confirm your booking has been reduced from 25% to 10%, final payment is now due 30 days prior to arrival as opposed to the previous 60 and we will provide full refunds for all monies paid in case of a cancellation due to Coronavirus.
Awards Season has started, and we are asking for your support to vote for us in two award competitions. The first one is organized by Condé Nast Traveller and by clicking this link you can nominate us for their 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards. Please note that voting is open only until May 31st.
Scuba Diving Magazine is asking their readers to nominate the best dive resorts and dive shops for their 2021 Readers Choice Awards. Please remember us when casting your vote by clicking this link. Voting ends on June 7th.
I promised to give you the list of 10 reasons “Not to come to Yap”, but instead of giving them to you all at once, I’ll give one with each blog post during this Coronavirus crisis. Last time I gave reason #1.
1) If you like crowded dive sites don’t come to Yap. … with barely 1,000 divers a year visiting Yap, all dive sites are exclusively for you and your dive buddies.
“Reason #2 Not to come to come to Yap”
2) If you are looking for long boat rides to get to the dive sites, don’t come to Yap. Most of our dive sites are within a 20-minute boat ride, while our mandarin fish, night & bonfire dives are not even 5 minutes from the dock.
Our donation to the frontline healthcare workers is getting very nice results as we have received 85 nominations to date. We are inviting our past guests and followers to nominate people they know who have been working hard in the fight against Covid-19. We will select 20 people and provide them with the chance to relax and refresh with seven nights in an Ocean View Room and five days of diving at Manta Ray Bay Resort & Yap Divers. To nominate your “Healthcare Hero” please go to this page on our website.
As you all know, I’m probably the biggest fan of our home brew and tend to brag on it to anyone who will listen. Well, now I have proof, as we have been awarded a Silver Medal in one of the most esteemed international competitions in the world.
Every year in Lyons, France, the capital of French gastronomy, the Concurs International de Lyons Wine, Beer and Spirits Competition showcases the world’s top libations to decide which are the best of the best. The Lyon International Competition judges 70 categories of beer and, according to the event’s website, “meets strict organizational rules with storage conditions optimal, a classification of beers that takes into account many criteria, a blind tasting, a control of the selected tasters and a rating grid.”
My buddy Greg Wilson and I may have been the ones to start to brew Manta Gold in my wife Patricia’s kitchen some 21 years ago, but without the help of Ian Ward from London, England, who set-up the brewery and developed the recipes and the constant dedication of our brew master, Fredy Gull from Zurich, Switzerland, we wouldn’t have our own award winning beer today. Just writing this makes me thirsty.
Parting shot for our regular newsletter subscribers.
The situation here at Manta Ray Bay Resort & Yap Divers is strange. After more than 33 years in business there are no divers to dive and talk with. Most of the staff are at home and no happy hour sessions are taking place on the Mnuw. Instead of a hectic, always changing schedule, I am reduced to daily visits to the resort to discuss with management what to do once this nightmare is over. I know that for a lot of you, the situation is totally different. We are very fortunate that we can still walk and drive around, have family gatherings and go to the stores whenever we want. I am sure most of you must follow strict guidelines and need to stay indoors as much as possible. In that way we are blessed, as Yap is Corona virus free.
Empty resort or not, there are still things that need to be done. Asa, our Housekeeping supervisor, is keeping all the rooms and public areas dust free and clean. Detlef and “Capo”(Captain Ramlih, our Indonesian who came with us when we brought Mnuw to Yap) are giving the ship a deep clean and working on all kinds of maintenance projects. All boats, except Popou, are on land at our workshop in Gitam. Jude is taking care of our vegetable garden and any crops harvested are shared with those members of the staff who have been laid-off.
One of the projects we’re working on is fine-tuning our website and this is something we really want you to help with. We want your best, or favorite, shots of your past trip or trips to Manta Ray and Yap Divers. Hopefully, it will help you pass the time and revive some great memories while you are in lock-down. What better way to while away the time than by thinking of the fond memories you have about diving on Yap?
We hope you will contribute to the new site by going through all those images you shot during your stay with us. Please upload them via https://www.mantaray.com/manta-ray-bay-gallery-home/.We are offering 4 Ikelite Gift Vouchers of $25 each to those guests who submit the 4 best sets of photos to be added to our website guest gallery. To see what you can purchase with these Gift Vouchers, please go tohttps://www.ikelite.com/. You can either order online via Ikelite’s website or locate a dealer near you. Please note that online orders can only be shipped to a US address. Dont forget to insert your name in the filename that you’re uploading so we know who to give the credit to.
Hope you enjoyed my previous blog highlighting the efforts we have undertaken to find the perfect Bonfire Dive site. Once back to “normal”, it’s a dive I certainly recommend and will do myself. If you have any questions about our Bonfire dive, or anything else, please send me a message at email@example.com. Looks like this crisis is going to take a while, so with the rainy season approaching and the trade winds fading, we will also start preparing to do some blackwater dives. Obviously, I will keep you posted on discoveries as they happen.
I promised to give you the list of 10 reasons “Not to come to Yap”, but instead of giving them to you all at once, I’ll give one with each blog post during this Coronavirus crisis.
Reason #1 “Not to come to come to Yap”:
1) No one at your dive site … with barely 1,000 divers a year visiting Yap, all dive sites are for you and your dive buddies exclusively.
Let’s hope that our annual MantaFest U/W Photography School and Contest scheduled for August 30 through September 12 will take place. In the spirit of the “glass is half full”, I want to invite you and your friends to join us this year. To book your trip, please e-mail Darlene at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those who may be leery of making travel plans now, I offer you this insurance policy. If you book before August 1st and pay the deposit and for any Corona virus related reason decide not to travel, I will refund you IN FULL providing that you give me 7 days’ notice.This money-back guarantee applies to deposits as well as any full payments. If you want some more information about this great event visit www.mantafest.com or email me at email@example.com.
Can’t come this year? How about booking for next year August 28 to September 12, 2021, or the year after August 27 to September 11, 2022. Make a deposit and we will lock-in 2020 rates and offer a complete refund should you need to cancel at any time due to a Corona virus related issue.
I leave you with this:
“The other day I asked my wife if I was the only one she had been with. She said, no, all the others were tens?”
Alright my friends, we miss you and hope we can welcome you all soon. Take care, be safe and stay healthy.
You will notice that we are in the 2nd week of updates on how we’re dealing with the corona virus (COVID-19) outbreak. In reality we’re in week #8 as the lock-down basically started on the 1st of February. We were hoping that it will be over soon, however instead of getting back to normal, the world around us has started to become more and more affected, resulting in this unreal situation.
Things have been tough and will be getting tougher, but as I mentioned last week, we are determined to come out of this crisis stronger and better. We also understand that you are hesitant to book your next trip to our beautiful island, but soon we are going to give you the opportunity to “lock down” a future credit and we’ll give you the list of 10 reasons “Not to come to Yap”. We will also release our plans to reward those healthcare employees who are now fighting for others on the front line. When this is over, we want to do our part to show them our appreciation for helping us survive this crisis.
During last year’s MantaFest (www.mantafest.com) program, we experimented with our first Blackwater dives and had excellent results. As a result of these dives, I decided to try and make Blackwater diving a regular staple of Yap Divers’ dive offerings. The people I spoke with all told me that the person to seek out was Mike Bartick of Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao, Philippines. As luck would have it, Patricia and I have a condo not far from Anilao. So, in October of 2019, while my brother Pat was visiting, I reached out to Mike and he graciously invited us to visit him at his resort.
Mike was, and is, a real gem. He not only took his time to explain everything about his Blackwater diving and what equipment he uses and where he gets his equipment, he also introduced me to Bonfire diving. Bonfire diving is Blackwater diving but inside the reef and stationery as opposed to outside the reef and drifting. Mike showed me the lights he uses in the Philippines and introduced me to Doug at Kraken Sports who was very helpful in getting the right lights, batteries and general information to us. I must say, these lights are the BEST.
Equipped with 4 very powerful Kraken lights, we made custom aluminum holders which can be pushed into the sandy bottom and began searching for the best place to conduct Bonfire dives. For us, as those of you have been here know, we have two seasons – Trade winds when the winds blow from the Northeast almost continually for 6 months and Non-Trade winds when there is little to no wind. Being on the East side of the island means that the waters closest to the Manta Ray Bay Resort are rough for half the year. The rough water precludes us from conducting Blackwater dives in the deep ocean outside the reef for half the year. Thus, my fascination with Bonfire diving, which can be done inside the reef, and which should attract all kinds of interesting and weird creatures.
My son OP, our Dive Operations Manager, along with dive guides John, Mike, Charles and Ferr all joined me as we began conducting Bonfire Dives and taking guests along as volunteers. To date, we have made seven dives in different places trying to find the perfect dive site. We have seen lots of interesting creatures on each dive. These first seven dives have been in various locations close to Slow and Easy. Our next two dives are scheduled for the Circus Wreck – Laura Marie. COVID-19 has put that on hold as we are closed, boats on land in storage and employees fending for themselves. As soon as the world gets back to normal, we will be full speed ahead in trying to find the perfect Bonfire dive site.
One of the few divers we still had in February was a very nice Dutchman Mr. Wijnand Vlierhuis who shot some awesome images during one of the test dives. Here is a sample.
We are looking forward to finding the best Bonfire site as well as to the start of the Blackwater season. We are ordering more lights, camera arms and rope from Doug in anticipation of the Trade winds ending in early June. At that time, we will be heading towards the Yap Trench and conducting Blackwater dives in thousands of feet of water. We invite anyone reading this to join us in helping to discover the best Bonfire dive sites and/or join us for the Blackwater 2020 season.
In closing, I want to let everyone know that we have just released a new dive site video produced by our good friend Andy Schumacher of Schumacher films. This can be viewed on our YouTube Channel .
If you enjoy this video, please be sure to subscribe to our channel which will provide you with an alert every time we release a new video.
Looking forward to your reactions to this post and I promise to personally reply to all comments on FB. Please share the FB post with all your dive buddies, friends, colleagues and family. Please understand that I have given you my promise to personally reply, but bear in mind I still have my Stone Money Brewery routine of Drink, Pee, Repeat so there could be slight delays.
“What a difference a day makes”………….Most of us know Dinah Washington’s hit from the 50’s, but for the Manta Ray Bay Family, that day was definitely January 31 of this year. While travelling back with Patricia from a very successful BOOT show in Germany, the news reached us that the FSM – to my knowledge the first country – instituted a travel ban basically locking down the entire country. Not only visitors residing in countries with confirmed cases of the Corona virus, but also those residing in countries with no cases but traveling via Narita, Manila, Taipei or Seoul would be stopped in Guam for a 14 day quarantine. Technically Patricia and I were not allowed to return home but United Airlines only asked if we had been in China within the past 14 days which we were able to answer with a “no” so we were allowed to board the plane for Yap.
After two years of investing in our own flight reservation system and a partnership with Caroline Islands Air, we finally saw opportunities to get more divers to our beautiful island. The 31st of January and President Panuelo’s travel ban meant we had to brace for impact.
With occupancy in February down more than 70% due to last minute cancellations and March and April being empty and perhaps even beyond those months, means no guests at all during our normal high season. Needless to say, the worst is still to come.
We managed, up until 3 weeks ago, to keep the majority of our staff on the payroll and although with limited hours our biggest assets – our employees – still had some income. Unfortunately, all, but a few have been laid off by now. We do what we can trying to help them. Go fishing and distribute the fish among our employees, hand out food vouchers that can be used to buy supplies at the stores, give food from our hydroponics farm and other local sources in our family as well as letting them cash their vacation days. We’ll survive and although Yap State and FSM Government have pledged to support the local businesses, the financial aid has not come.
Enough self-pity. At the end of the day we’re still a Corona-free island, have our waters to fish in and our land to produce from. We are determined to come out of this crisis stronger and as soon as the funds are available we’ll try to get our staff back to work on projects that improve our facilities, services and dive options.
My family and I, together with our staff, just wanted to let you know that we’re going through tough times, but we’re all healthy. We’ll get updates on what’s happening on your favorite dive destination during this crisis through this blog on a regular basis. Stay tuned as my next blog will be about the exciting test dives that I did with OP, John and Mike for our soon to launch “Bonfire” dives.
With over 17,000 dives in Yap and having found & named most of our dive sites, it’s really hard for me to single just one out. There are any number of wonderful dives here in Yap and on any given day, all can be spectacular with unbelievable wildlife happenings but if forced to pick only one, it would be Yap Caverns. The Caverns, over the years, have featured everything for schools of more than 100 Bumphead Wrasse to over 500 Rainbow Runners to Whale Sharks, Pilot Whales, Dolphins, mating Octopus, Marlin & Sailfish not to mention the Leaf Fishes, Coral Hermit Crabs and Ornate Ghost Pipefishes and almost all of this in very clear waters. Not only the unpredictability but the fact that there are two world class wall dives on each exit, makes this a stunning dive where you truly never know what to expect.
One of my favorite things to do at the Caverns, besides the swim through caves and tunnels, is to visit the Grey Reef Shark cleaning station at about 100 to 120 feet. When they are getting cleaned, the sharks are almost vertical in the water with their gills wide open and you can almost see the smile of joy on their face as the cleaner wrasses do their job. It’s also down here that you find large Stone Fish and are perched on the edge of the drop-off so any large pelagics swimming by are right there in front of you.
Then there are the anemones with their anemone fish who lay eggs seasonally and if you go there every day for a week, you can watch the eggs develop and hatch before your eyes. The anemones also host shrimp and porcelain crabs. Finally the schools on Anthias at the tops of the reef and the coral bommies guarding the caverns from the open water are an excellent photo opportunity and fun to watch as they move in and out of their hiding places in the coral.
Yes, if forced to pick only one of our more than 50 buoyed dive sites, I would choose Yap Caverns. I hope to dive with you there some day soon. Until then, safe travels and happy diving.
Awesom dive experience. we dived for a week with Yap divers and every dive was varied and very beautiful. We benefited from the pre-corona time in March which meant that there were very few tourists on Yap. (3...)read more
We have been twice at Manta Ray Bay. The staff was exzellent dive guides as well as people on the Mnuw, not to mention the Amber👌 The sharks at Vertigo and the Mantas at Stammtisch are a must for every diver. We hope to be back!read more
My fourth time to Manta Ray Bay Resort in Yap since 1995. Hotel still very well kept, spacious room, good services and dive centre, very well run. Enjoy my dives very much with crystal clear water, mantas, sharks and even some macros. Wish they have better flight schedules to make it easier for visitors. Love to be back again.read more
Stayed at Manta Ray Bay as part of work travel to Yap. Excellent rooms and very friendly and helpful staff who were happy to go out of their way to assist guests and ensure they had a pleasant stay. Would highly recommend and look forward to staying again in the future.read more
My experience at the Manta RayBay Resort was once in a life time. We did not dive because we were in Yap for military purposes but if I had to choose a location in which to dive it would be in Yap and I would stay at the Manta Ray Bay Resort again.
Bill and his family are just wonderful and made our experience on Yap such a memorable one. I hope to come back to Yap again and if I am so privileged I would visit with my adopted family and stay at the Manta Ray Bay Resort again.read more
All the staff from Manta bay resort will treat you like family and make you feel at home
The room was very spacious and decorated with taste
The dives were very nice , especially Vertigo obviously !
Do not hesitate , just book your trip to Yap and Manta bay resort will do the rest and there will not be any bad surprise
I highly recommend a stay with Bill's Acker great resort !read more
Completed my 7th trip to Yap this past April and it is still one of the best dive destinations and operations around. Have led groups there for those 7 years and had several repeat customers go back with me. Great staff, dive operation and beautiful hotel. And the diving is diverse and just awesome. Many of the staff have become friends and it always a treat to be greeted by name upon arrival and around the hotel. Since diving is the premier attraction the island is a paradise of relaxation and laid back attitude. If you haven't been to this area of the world you should really consider it. Bill Acker, owner and all around good guy, can help you make travel plans for visiting Yap and other great destinations in Micronesia.read more
It´s an excellent diving and a wonderfull cultural experience to visit Yap. The Manta Ray Bay resort provides you with friendly and skilled staff both in diving and in the hotel department. The underwater world is extremely beautifull and the island culture very interesting to explore! I enjoyed both the diving and the cultural experience to the maximum !!!!!read more
Beautiful resort and location, small and quaint with very attentive service from wonderful staff who were extremely friendly and helpful, and knew everyone's name (travelled with a group of 20 people) within the first day. Yap Divers staff were amazing, we were even offered hot tea during our surface intervals with some delicious snacks, and they ensured we had the best possible dive experience on each dive. I would return to this gorgeous island and absolutely stay at Manta Bay Resort again, it's well worth the trip!read more
MantaRayBay Resort, is THE dive resort. It is so obvious that this place was designed for divers, BY divers. The concept that all of the guests are part of the resort family seems to be the cornerstone of MRB Resort. The dive service is top notch; the wait staff spot-on, the resort staff super friendly and attentive. The dive sites are great, especially the southern walls, and of course the cleaning stations visited so often by the Manta Rays. I have gone scuba diving all over western Asia and the Caribbean, and MRB Resort is at the top!read more
The highest level of dive service ever experienced! Fabulous dive operation from crew, boats, snacks, hot tea and water, warm towels etc. etc. and of course the Manta Rays!! Thank you for making my 100th dive so memorable. Accommodations 5 star! Food was fabulous! Can't say enough about this beautiful Island and it's people. Loved Yap! Deb & Glenn, London, Ontarioread more
Bill and his family run a great dive resort, rooms are spacious and comfortable. Restaurant and bar provide good range of food and drink. Bill and his dive guides know the reef intimately and the diving is spectacular. Bill and his family make for a very friendly and rewarding experience in Yap.read more
We were from 11.08 to 18.08 at the Manta Ray Bay resort and had unforgettable days there 😍In total we made 12 dives with wonderful encounters. Highlights were, of course, the manta rays in the Goofnuw Channel and many white tip reef sharks in the Shark City 🦈 But also we saw eagle rays, turtles 🐢 and buffalo head parrotfish. The hotel is beautiful and the whole team does a great job there. The food on the ship Mnuw, as well as the home-brewed beer are excellent. Thank you again to the whole team of Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers 👏🏼We also did a one-day land tour to explore the many beautiful places of this unique island. The beach is like in paradise🏝, stone money and relics from the second world war very worth to see! You find there also culturally typical houses with different meaning and use! It would be nice if more visitors would come to this great island and appreciate the great work that is done there!
Anyway, we really enjoyed it and would come back anytime 🙏🏻✌🏼read more
We stayed at the hotel and dove with Manta Ray divers in early December 2017. The hotel is very comfortable, well run and staffed with wonderful employees. During our visit my wife came down with an illness and the consideration and support from the hotel and dive staff could not have been better.read more
The best place to stay in Yap. The resort is really nice and clean, the scuba diving is great, and the docked ship that houses the bar, restaurant, and movie screen is very cool. I really enjoyed my stay here.read more
The whole place centers around the scuba diving operation. Probably better to find somewhere else if you're not a diver.
The dive operation was generally good, but a little too laid back - schedules weren't always clear, and sometimes would change without any notice. Sometimes it was hard to tell if this was really because of changing tides/weather or because of the island pace of life.
Pizza is a surprisingly good option at the restaurant.read more