I’d like to be Under the sea – Bill’s Update #12

Divers within a certain age bracket, but also music lovers from younger generations for sure know the Beatles’ song “Octopus’s Garden” that was released in 1969.

I’d like to be
Under the sea
In an octopus’ garden
With you

Those lyrics express the feeling I had when I was finally in the water again. Oh, how I have missed it. Needless to say, I was thrilled to receive a request from the FSM Fisheries & Maritime Institute to certify 6 of their instructors to become SSI open water divers. Due to their diligent commitment on the theory part, which they all did online, we were able to move on to the pool sessions quickly. Being back in the pool, teaching people that are eager to pick up this wonderful sport and taking them for their first dives was a truly wonderful experience after being in this lockdown for 18 months now.

I hear you saying, “you can go diving every single day if you want to”. True, but it’s just not the same as diving with divers who have traveled to Yap specially to discover our marine wonders, or as in this case, with local professionals that show so much enthusiasm when being taught this amazing sport, which has given my family and I so many friends.

Proud students and instructor

 

It gets even better. You might remember the marine biology program we have been hosting the past 3 years for students at Yap’s Catholic High School. Thanks to the dedication and work of Julie Hartup’s Micronesian Conservation Coalition her Marine Island Ecology Course is taking place again this Summer. While the online kickoff took place on July 1st, the first field trip hosted by us took place last week. After the mandatory swim test, we took the students for snorkeling trips in the sea grass beds and the coral gardens of Slow and Easy. The next time we met, we snorkeled in the mangroves and the coral gardens of Gabach Channel. Upon completion of the drift in Gabach, we took them on a plankton tow in Gabach as well as one in the main channel. More field trips will follow and obviously we’ll share the experiences of these wonderful young people, who are so eager to learn about the ecology of their island.

Always great to teach and show our local youth about Yap’s rich and diverse marine life

 

We’re getting close to reason #10 for not coming to Yap, but before sharing #8 with you, let’s “refresh” your memory on the first 7 reasons not to come to Yap.

“Reason #1 Not to come to Yap”
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 Yap”
If you are looking for long boat rides to get to the dive sites, don’t come to Yap.

“Reason #3 Not to come to Yap”
If you don’t like to discover and encounter a wide range of marine life during your dives, don’t come to Yap.

“Reason #4 Not to come to Yap”
If you don’t like that your room, the dive shop, the dive boat dock, the bar/restaurant, and all other facilities are within a maximum of 2 minutes “walk”, don’t come to Yap.

“Reason #5 Not to come to Yap”
If you want to limit the type of dives you like to do, don’t come to Yap.

“Reason #6 Not to come to Yap”
If you want to be on an island full of nightlife, casinos, discos, and high-traffic tourism areas, don’t come to Yap.

“Reason #7 Not to come to Yap”
If you don’t like mantas, don’t come to Yap.

Reason #8 “Not to come to Yap”

If you don’t want everyone, from your housekeeper to your waiter, to know you by your first name and care for your needs, then don’t come to Yap.”

While it’s easy for us to list “10 reasons not to come to Yap” we would like you to submit your own reason and from the most original submissions we’ll select the #10 reason. The “winner” will receive a gift from us. Please click here to submit your suggestion!

No news is good news. King James I of England is credited with first expressing this sentiment in his writings in 1616: “No news is better than evil news.” The idiom no news is good news was extrapolated from this phrase within 30 years.

Let’s hold on to King James’ wisdom when updating you about the current situation on Yap and in the FSM. Pohnpei has repatriated some 300 stranded citizens and Yap has finished its quarantine facility which is essential to start the process of bringing stranded Yapese residents home. We have received the first requests from a couple of essential technicians who are planning to come to the island soon to carry out work that has been stalled for 18 months now. They will be required to quarantine at the designated quarantine facility, but after the quarantine period is over, they will be free to go around the island. Baby steps, but there is progress. The answer to the question “when” is still unknown. We are hoping for the first quarter of 2022, but a lot depends on developments in other parts of the world, especially with respect to new variants like the Delta string. Another positive development is that vaccination of the outer islands population is in full swing.

They got already nicknamed “the quarantine barracks”, but we’re all happy that with this facility the repatriation of stranded Yapese can start

 

Parting Shot

Father Murphy walks into a pub in Donegal, and asks the first man he meets, ‘Do you want to go to heaven?
The man said, ‘I do, Father.’
The priest said, ‘Then stand over there against the wall.’
Then the priest asked the second man, ‘Do you want to go to heaven?’
‘Certainly, Father,’ the man replied.
‘Then stand over there against the wall,’ said the priest.
Then Father Murphy walked up to O’Toole and asked, ‘Do you want to go to heaven?’
O’Toole said, ‘No, I don’t Father.’
The priest said, ‘I don’t believe this. You mean to tell me that when you die you don’t want to go to heaven?’
O’Toole said, ‘Oh, when I die, yes. I thought you were getting a group together to go right now.’

 


Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay – Bill’s Update #11

Initially my plan was to write a blog every three-to-four-weeks, but scrolling through the Facebook posts, I realized it has been eight weeks or so since the last time you heard from me. Is there nothing to share with you? On the contrary, lots of developments are in progress, but none of them give us the answer to the question: “When?”.

Over 50% of the population on Yap-proper has received its COVID19 vaccine. That is awesome, but we are also blessed with several beautiful outer islands whose people, culture and history are such an important part of our State. None of the almost 2,000 people living there have been vaccinated. I do not have to go into the details for you to understand that getting our brothers and sisters on the outer islands vaccinated is an incredibly complex task.  Because of this nightmare, only 37% of Yap Sate has been vaccinated. A vaccination rate many other countries and states would be very happy with, but still far from the 70% threshold that the President of the FSM has set.

The 70% vaccination target will allow the country to repatriate the FSM citizens stranded in Palau, Guam, the Marshall Islands and the US Mainland.  Some of these people have been away from their homes and families for over a year now.  My opinion, and it is just that, is that until the citizens in Guam are repatriated, nothing will happen in terms of lifting the FSM travel ban.  In fact, I believe that the government will wait several months after repatriating citizens from Guam. It will have an observation period before it decides how to proceed with the travel ban.  Also, keep in mind that the original travel ban, which was extended at least three times, states that residents from any country with active Covid-19 cases are not permitted to enter the FSM.  This ban also includes transiting countries with active cases. Should a ban like this be reinstated, that leaves out visitors from most countries worldwide.  This is going to be interesting, and I will do my best to keep you updated as to the answer to the big question: “When?”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A graphic of where Yap stands in terms of the vaccine program

A new era of transportation is coming to Yap. The first of two Pacific Mission Aviation (PMA) Beechcraft King Air 200 aircraft is on its way to Yap. Having these aircraft here will not only help the important missionary work PMA does daily but will also improve the medical evacuations for those who need to be airlifted to Palau or Manila.  These pressurized turbo prop planes will also allow easier access for our divers to either fly in via Palau or combine Yap and Palau. There is also a plan for a Guam-Yap route. As you can imagine, this multi-leg journey to bring the planes from the mainland US, Alaska, over the Bering Sea and many more stops, is quite an adventure.  We at the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers look forward to working with the fine people of PMA to arrange for needed air service for our divers. This will make it much easier to add Yap to your next dive vacation.  Big plans are in the discussion stage.  Stay tuned for more as our plans and news progress. All in all, this is an impressive achievement by the employees of the Public Health Department and our friends at Pacific Mission Aviation but unfortunately, still no answer to the question: “When?”.

 

 

 

 

 

Won’t she look great landing in Yap with 9 divers and all of their gear?

In the week of April 11th to the 18th we saw a tropical depression developing East/South-East of us. The initial forecast models didn’t look good. We were forced to mobilize all the staff, stop current hotel projects and start securing several parts of our operation, buildings and inventory. The two boats that were still moored were moved to the workshop in Gitam.  We also moved room inventory from the 1st floor rooms, secured the Mnuw for a possible direct hit, moved the dive dock to the dive boat moorings and secured the solar panels. I am very proud of our team acting so quickly to ensure everything was secured as much as it could be before the depression hit Yap. Luckily for us, what eventually turned into Super Typhoon Surigae, changed its course enough for us to experience heavy rains and strong winds but no real damage.

Hope I am not giving you the impression that we’re all in misery here and feeling depressed. Not at all, I just miss you all. I miss the diving with those who take the long journey to Yap to dive with us, I miss meeting old friends and making new ones, I miss sipping a Two-Step at the Stammtisch area on the Mnuw, but at the same time I realize how fortunate we are.

The other day I was spending a bit of time with my family and for some reason the late great Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay” came to my mind.  Here I am having fun with the little people, as I call OP’s kids, my other two grandkids who are here with us in Yap and my family all the while still sipping a frothy Two-Step.  As my late Filipino “brother” Bro Vic would say: “life’s good”.

Enjoying quality time with my family while sipping a two step on the dock of the bay

Although I do not have the answer to the question: “When?”, I am still hopeful that we will be allowed to open again before the end of this year. Whether it will be October, or December I truly do not know. Vaccination rates are promising, building the quarantine facilities that will allow us to bring stranded citizens home will start soon and Caroline Islands Air is flying between the different (COVID19-free) FSM states. These are all positive signs.  Whether they are positive enough to allow the government leaders to open our borders is the question and I don’t think anyone has the answer to that now.

Until we know the answer to the question: “When?” let’s give you another reason “not to come to Yap”, but first a recap of the first 6 reasons.

“Reason #1 Not to come to Yap”

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 Yap”

If you are looking for long boat rides to get to the dive sites, don’t come to Yap.

“Reason #3 Not to come to Yap”

If you don’t like to discover and encounter a wide range of marine life during your dives, don’t come to Yap.

“Reason #4 Not to come to Yap”

If you don’t like that your room, the dive shop, the dive boat dock, the bar/restaurant, and all other facilities are within a maximum of 2 minutes “walk”, don’t come to Yap.

“Reason #5 Not to come to Yap”

If you want to limit the type of dives you like to do, don’t come to Yap.

“Reason #6 Not to come to Yap”

If you want to be on an island full of nightlife, casinos, discos, and high-traffic tourism areas, don’t come to Yap.

“Reason #7 Not to come to Yap”

If you don’t like mantas, don’t come to Yap.

We are blessed with a permanent population of mantas that live in the waters of Yap year ‘round, as they are reef mantas and do not travel far off the coast. From late December through April, they are mating. During that period, they are on the West side of the island and their behavior is different. In mating season, you are more likely to see mantas in larger groups chasing each other and “dancing” as part of their mating behavior. After the mating season, they migrate to the East side of the island. On both West and East sides of the island, we dive at cleaning stations which are coral formations home to various types of cleaner wrasse who wait for the mantas to arrive.  For mantas, it’s all about eating and cleaning and we get to see them do this activity on a regular basis.

Until next time, stay safe, take care of yourselves and your families and do not hesitate to contact me if there is any way I can be of assistance with your Micronesian travel plans.  My e-mail is: bill@mantaray.com and I would appreciate hearing from you.

 


We are still fortunate – Bill’s Update #10

It is heartbreaking to see countries around the world struggling to get their citizens vaccinated. Long lines, people showing up for their shots but are sent home without one, people cutting in line, traveling to locations other than their home area, months-long waiting lists… the stories are many.

Patricia and I turned in our vaccination request form on Monday, got a call on Wednesday and an appointment on Thursday. Both of us got the jab and were in and out within an hour. And we our vaccination cards with a confirmed appointments to get our 2nd shots in 28 days.

Especially with the struggles other countries have with their vaccination programs and the fact that Yap is still COVID19-free, I feel kind of guilty having received ours while many of you are still waiting.  I sincerely hope that you and the rest of the world can receive vaccinations sooner rather than later.  I wish you good luck in this regard.

Let us hope the FSM and Yap State Public Health Departments keep the present pace, as a recent press release from the Office of the President of the FSM started with the following. “Please note new information that the FSM has formally announced meeting a vaccination rate of 70% prior to engaging in any future repatriation activities or the opening of the Nation’s borders”. This seems to indicate that finally, an objective benchmark has been established that determines when we will be allowed to welcome our divers again. I personally still think it won’t be before September 1st of this year, but you never know. Fingers crossed!

While working on the content for our new website – stay tuned – I realized that there are a lot of stories behind the names of our dive sites. Most of them are named by me, some by staff and others by our divers. I will try to remember the most memorable stories to share with you. 

Today the story behind “Kurrekurredutt Dropoff”. It is located on the west side of the island, in an area that has not been extensively explored. Kurrekurredutt dropoff is a popular dive for guests doing 3 daily dives during the tradewind season, which runs from from mid-November through mid-June. The site has healthy hard corals, a variety of crinoids and varied marine life.

My good friend Patrik Nilsson and his friend Sverre Schriwer dove at that spot back in the mid-90s. When they discovered the site, it was unnamed. They chose “Kurrekurredutt Dropoff”. If the name sounds Scandinavian to you, well, that’s because the gentlemen are Swedish. Kurrekurredutt has origins in the famous children’s book “Pippi i Söderhavet” (Pippi Longstocking). In one of her adventures, Pippi travels to an island in the Pacific where her father lives. The name of the island is Kurrekurredutt-ön (Kurrekurredutt Island). This is a fictional, nonsense name that Swedish author Astrid Lindgren came up with for the story. Patrik and Sverre named “Kurrekurredutt Dropoff” because Yap was their mythical “Kurrekurredutt”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of Andy Schumacher’s turtle shots from Yap

As you might have noticed, on the 1st of January we announced the winners of the “Nominate Your Healthcare Hero”. Man, that a tough assignment to select the 20 lucky winners of a free week stay/diving at Manta Ray Bay Resort & Yap Divers! Going through the stories, I realized that all of the nominees are real heroes and heroines, so we decided to also offer the “non-winners” a chance to get a free week with us. For the full press release please visit: https://www.mantaray.com/honor-your-health-care-heroes/.

After a bit of a delay, we have selected the winners of the photo contest competition. The four winners are.

  1. Steve Kopp with his amazing shot at Vertigo;
  2. Salvatore Calabrese’s “Light Thru” at Yap Caverns;
  3. Patricia Hillebrand’s image of a traditional raft;
  4. Klaus Foehles’ capture of a school of barracuda’s;

Time for another reason “Not to come to Yap”.

“Reason #7 Not to come to Yap” – If you want to carry your own dive gear to the boat and back, if you don’t want a warm face cloth after your dive and if you don’t want a delicious sandwich with salad served on the boat between your 2nd and 3rd dive, don’t come to Yap. We believe in true VIP-dive service and want to make diving with Yap Divers as easy and comfortable as possible for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only thing you have to do is get yourself in the boat – We’ll do the rest

 

As a reminder, here are the first 6 Reasons not to come to Yap:

“Reason #1 Not to come to Yap”

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 Yap”

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.

“Reason #3 Not to come to Yap”

If you don’t like to discover and encounter a wide range of marine life during your dives, don’t come to Yap. We have a permanent manta ray population, abundant reef sharks, great walls, mating mandarin fish, macro life and pristine hard corals.

“Reason #4 Not to come to Yap”

If you don’t like that your room, the dive shop, the dive boat dock, the bar/restaurant, and all other facilities are within a maximum of 2 minutes “walk”, don’t come to Yap. We are built by and for divers. Personalized service and convenience is our goal.

“Reason #5 Not to come to Yap”

If you want to limit the type of dives you like to do, don’t come to Yap.

When diving in Yap, you can experience an amazing cavern dive at Yap Caverns, life-changing experience of Manta diving at the cleaning stations, adventurous drift dives in Mi’l Channel, adrenaline spike Shark diving at Vertigo, Bonfire diving just a few minutes boat ride from our dock, breathtaking Mandarin fish diving at Rainbow Reef, impressive wall diving at Spanish Walls, Blackwater diving in the world’s 2nd deepest oceanic trench, colorful coral diving at Magic Kingdom and amazing macro diving at Slow N Easy just to mention a few.

“Reason #6 Not to come to Yap”

If you want to be on an island full of nightlife, casino’s, disco’s, and high traffic tourism areas, don’t come to Yap. We have fewer than 1,000 divers visiting the island every year and in many ways the culture, way-of-living and structures are still in place like they have been for decades.

We have the Mnuw that not only is the only place on island where our home-brewed Stone Money beer is served but, like our beer that has won some prestigious awards, the restaurant itself also has been voted as one of the 5 most quality restaurants in the Indian Ocean/Pacific region by readers of Scuba Diving Magazine.

No, we normally don’t continue till the wee-hours, since our guests like to explore as much of Yap’s beauty on-land and underwater as possible, but I guarantee you that relaxing and socializing on our 120+ year old Indonesian schooner is an experience by itself.

 


Light at the end of the tunnel – Bill’s Update #9

While writing down the title of this blog, I got curious where, how and when the phrase “There’s always light at the end of the tunnel” originated. After browsing for an hour or so I gave up as there are so many different versions that I decided that everyone has his/her own tunnel. Therefore, everyone has his/her own light. Nevertheless, I think the last 9 months or so we all shared a tunnel and a common light – Covid19.  Knowing that vaccines have been developed and will be distributed soon, I am hopeful. Hopeful that, despite the alarming spikes in Covid19 infections both in the US and Europe, sometime in the Fall of 2021 we will be allowed to welcome guests again.

While I consider the coming vaccine as the first “light”, a meeting with my friend Amos Collins of Pacific Mission Aviation (PMA) on November 23rd is my second “light”.

With (de)light……….I listened as he told me the news that PMA would be receiving two Beechcraft King Air 200 aircraft in March of 2021. These pressurized, extremely fast aircraft will be used for Yap/Palau, Yap/Manila and Yap/Guam flights. Yap/Palau will be a one-hour flight capable of carrying 9 passengers with 2 full size pieces of luggage. Yap/Manila will be a four-hour flight with the same luggage capacity. These planes will serve Yap/Palau on a scheduled basis plus be available for charters which we can use to match-up with schedules of Palau live-aboards. More info to come as soon it’s available, but this would increase your options to visit our beautiful island.

 

Beechcraft King Air 200 aircraft connecting in the future Yap with Palau and Manila

 

Although I am hoping for a Fall of 2021 re-opening, obviously I would welcome an earlier date. Whatever the date is gonna be, we’ll be ready and we will offer a really special set of “Grand Re-opening Packages”.

Please click here for more details, but in brief we’re offering the following to you and your dive buddies.

For individual bookings you will get 3 FREE NIGHTS when booking our 7 night/15 dives, 10 night/24 dives or 14/33 dives packages. That’s right, you book for 7 nights and you’ll stay 10 nights with the last 3 nights for free.

Groups will get 8 FREE SPOTS for every 8 paid divers. This is not a typo! You’ll pay for 8 divers and can come with 16 divers!

We were “lucky” that materials for a major overhaul of our Mnuw Bar & Restaurant were ordered before this Covid19 crisis started and when you’re here you’ll see the improvements we are working on. Jude and Detlef, along with their teams, have extended the covered Crow’s Nest-area meaning that instead of rain spoiling the fun, we will have more space for you to stay dry as well as retractable sheets which can be pulled down to keep the bar area dry. Furthermore, the wooden deck will be replaced with Trex composite decking.  This means we will no longer need to cut wood anymore, as this material is kind of maintenance free. Another way for us to contribute to a more sustainable environment.


“Work in Progress” on the Mnuw

Time for our 10 reasons “not to come to Yap”.

“Reason #6 Not to come to Yap

If you want to be on an island full of nightlife, casino’s, disco’s, and high traffic tourism areas, don’t come to Yap. We have fewer than 1,000 divers visiting the island every year and in many ways the culture, way-of-living and structures are still in place like they have been for decades.

We have the Mnuw that not only is the only place on island where our home-brewed Stone Money beer is served but, like our beer that has won some prestigious awards, the restaurant itself also has been voted as one of the 5 most quality restaurants in the Indian Ocean/Pacific region by readers of Scuba Diving Magazine.

No, we normally don’t continue till the wee-hours, since our guests like to explore as much of Yap’s beauty on-land and underwater as possible, but I guarantee you that relaxing and socializing on our 120+ year old Indonesian schooner is an experience by itself.

 


Hopefully we can get together soon again on the Mnuw

One more thing folks! Show off your work by uploading your favorite shots on our guest gallery. We got a few submissions, but sure we can get more.

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. Don’t forget to insert your name in the filename that you’re uploading so we know who to give the credit to

This competition is open till December 31 of this year. Don’t be shy, photo pro or not, we value all pictures that show your fond memories of Yap.

Parting shot

Now here’s a wife in a million

Wife: I am heading to the store; do you want anything?

Husband:  I want a sense of purpose and meaning in my life….I seek fulfillment and completeness in my soul….I want to connect with God and discover the spiritual side of me….

Wife:  Be more specific, Beer or Vodka?

Bonus Shot

I asked my wife if I was the only one she’d been with.

She said yes, all the others had been nines and tens….


Accepting the lemons (for now) – Bill’s Update #8

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining and boat trips with my grandkids is something I’ve been looking forward to for many years. Having the “luxury” to pick any day of the week instead of being on the boat with our divers for a few days every week, kind of “bothers” me though. At the end, life is all about balance and the balance is gone, at least for now. Guess you’re experiencing the same, although many of you don’t have the opportunity that I have due to all the restrictions that are in place around the world.

Enjoying a fishing trip with OO & TT

Yes, we’re still COVID19-free which is a blessing and although many countries are experiencing an extension of the first, second or third wave, I wish our Government would start working to develop an “exit strategy”. Being on Yap for over 40 years taught me to take things as they come and up to a certain extent that’s very comforting and healthy, but to sit back and wait until the rest of the world solves our problems, is simply not in my nature. More anticipation and being pro-active would be welcome as it’s hard for me to get messages from divers that have had to cancel their trip to Yap but are writing that email while being on a dive trip in Cozumel.

Do not worry, I’m still diving like I did with OP, Mike, and John last week. The 4 of us, along with William our boat captain, decided enough is enough – let’s get wet.  We dived Peelaek Corner, Valley of the Rays and Stonehenge.  Boy was it wonderful to be back in the water but more importantly, back with some of the guys who made Yap Divers.  We saw eagle rays, turtles, the mantas, and all sorts of other wonderful creatures of the sea.  This week, the plan is for us to go South to see what Yap Caverns, Buena Vista and Cabbage Patch have to offer and then the plan is Vertigo and Mil Channel.  Wish you were here with us.

Spotted Eagle Ray by Brad Holland

 

There is more good news as we, actually it was YOU, did it again! Last week the results of Scuba Diving Magazine Reader’s Awards were announced and I’m very proud that we have again been chosen as one of the 5 best dive resorts in the Pacific/Indian Ocean region. This was not the only category we were recognized, however.

Region – Pacific and Indian Ocean

 
BEST OVERALL DIVE DESTINATIONS – Yap

Quality of Dive Boats – Yap Divers at Manta Ray Bay Hotel, Micronesia
Quality of Facilities  – Yap Divers at Manta Ray Bay Hotel, Micronesia
Quality of Staff – Yap Divers at Manta Ray Bay Hotel, Micronesia

BEST OVERALL DIVE RESORTS – Manta Ray Bay Resort, Yap, Micronesia

Quality of the Resort – Manta Ray Bay Resort, Yap, Micronesia
Quality of the Rooms – Manta Ray Bay Resort, Yap, Micronesia
Quality of the Restaurant – Manta Ray Bay Resort, Yap, Micronesia
Quality of Staff – Manta Ray Bay Resort, Yap, Micronesia
Value of Resort – Manta Ray Bay Resort, Yap, Micronesia
 
 
For all the results please click here.
 

While a new website is in the making, we are still trying to enhance the features and experience of the present site. Probably one of the most important is the Pros’ Photo Gallery. Throughout the years I had the privilege to meet and welcome many top U/W Photographers and many – if not all – became good friends. So far we have 7 photo pros and their astonishing work on our website and there are more to come. Have a look at our Pros’ Gallery via this link.


Just a selection of the photo pro’s gallery

 

In my 3rd blog I wrote the following.

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 to https://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. Don’t forget to insert your name in the filename that you’re uploading so we know who to give the credit to. „

 We did receive a few submissions, but I hope that more divers will submit their images as this competition is open till December 31 of this year. Don’t be shy, photo pro or not, we value all pictures that show your fond memories of Yap.

 

Last, but not least, our 10 reasons “not to come to Yap”. In this blog reason #5.

Let’s remind you of reasons #1 thru 4. 

“Reason #1 Not to come to Yap”

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 Yap”

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.

“Reason #3 Not to come to Yap”

If you don’t like to discover and encounter a wide range of marine life during your dives, don’t come to Yap. We have a permanent manta ray population, abundant reef sharks, great walls, mating mandarin fish, macro life and pristine hard corals.

“Reason #4 Not to come to Yap”

If you don’t like that your room, the dive shop, the dive boat dock, the bar/restaurant, and all other facilities are within a maximum of 2 minutes “walk”, don’t come to Yap. We are built by and for divers. Personalized service and convenience is our goal.

“Reason #5 Not to come to Yap”

If you want to limit the type of dives you like to do, don’t come to Yap.

When diving in Yap, you can experience an amazing cavern dive at Yap Caverns, life-changing experience of Manta diving at the cleaning stations, adventurous drift dives in Mi’l Channel, adrenaline spike Shark diving at Vertigo, Bonfire diving just a few minutes boat ride from our dock, breathtaking Mandarin fish diving at Rainbow Reef, impressive wall diving at Spanish Walls, Blackwater diving in the world’s 2nd deepest oceanic trench, colorful coral diving at Magic Kingdom and amazing macro diving at Slow N Easy just to mention a few.

 

A parting shot for you:

Father Murphy walks into a pub in Donegal, and asks the first man he meets, ‘Do you want to go to heaven?

The man said, ‘I do, Father.’

The priest said, ‘Then stand over there against the wall.’

Then the priest asked the second man, ‘Do you want to go to heaven?’ 

‘Certainly, Father,’ the man replied.

‘Then stand over there against the wall,’ said the priest.

Then Father Murphy walked up to O’Toole and asked, ‘Do you want to go to heaven?’

O’Toole said, ‘No, I don’t Father.’

The priest said, ‘I don’t believe this. You mean to tell me that when you die you don’t want to go to heaven?’

O’Toole said, ‘Oh when I die, yes. I thought you were getting a group together to go right now.’


Lucky 13 – Bill’s Update #7

Among all the – almost depressing – news from around the world there’s also some good news that reaches our shores. We’re very proud to have been voted in the top 25 of resorts for the (South) Pacific region which included Australia and New Zealand. Knowing that there are more that 20,000 resorts/hotels in this region, coming in on #13 is quite an accomplishment and being rewarded with the “2020 Trip Advisor’s Traveler’s Choice Award”.

This is actually the 2nd time we are voted in the top 25. “Back” in 2017 was the first time and a good friend of mine wrote to me “Not only has Yap never won before… there’s never been dive resort win as it isn’t an official category.” Again, like in 2017 we are the only dive resort and the only resort in Micronesia/Palau in the top 25. For the full list please click here. Only a handful of Travelers’ Choice winners are now honored as Traveler’s Choice Best of the Best, representing the most exceptional, highest-rated properties around the world. These businesses are among the top 1% of all listings on TripAdvisor.  In addition to these two years of being included with the Best of the Best, we have also been awarded with TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice award 8 years running.

 Although closed we’re planning to have a small get-together with our staff to celebrate this achievement. Obviously a big “Thank You” for all those that submitted an “Excellent” review on TripAdvisor the last 12 months. For those who haven’t done yet, please give us a head-start by submitting your review here.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Acker family (l to r, Numie, Bill, Patricia & OP Acker) showing off
our Trip Advisor award

 

The prospects for reopening any time soon remain not very positive and where countries around the world try to deal with the “new normal” our leaders are focusing on keeping the status-quo. From a public healthcare perspective an understandable choice, but just hoping that some willingness to start discussing the format of an exit strategy will be shown soon. We understand that our customers are trying to plan 2021 vacations and we are hoping to be able to let you know when we may be able to accept guests as well as what protocols those guests will need to adhere to in order to be allowed into the country.  Please bear with us.  We are working on it.

DEMA 2020 that was supposed to take place in New Orleans this year was already cancelled by its organizers. Although InterDive Friedrichshafen 2020, BOOT Duesseldorf and InterDive Frankfurt in 2021 are still planned to take place, I’m afraid that we won’t attend those shows. We’ll all miss meeting old friends and tell new friends about our beautiful island, but the reality is that it doesn’t make sense to go there not knowing when we’re going to be open again. This beside the fact that we probably could leave on one of the monthly flights out but getting back home will be a challenge until flights are back to normal again.

 

 

 

 


Patricia, Bill & Detlef with two of our regular repeat guests Hubert & Brigitta

 

Doesn’t mean though that we can’t take your questions and inquiries though. If you have questions about our new hotel/dive packages, best way to get to Yap or any other question about your next dive vacation to Yap please let me know and drop me an email via bill@mantaray.com.

In my last post I told you about the marine biology program we were hosting for students at Yap’s Catholic High School. The program is finished, and it was a great experience for both the kids and I.

The last day of the program was a snorkel at Vertigo. Needless to say, that all of them were thrilled and super excited, one thing I learned though is that snorkeling with a group of teenagers at a shark site is quite “challenging and intense” so to say. See the video and photos shot by Jarvis Falow, giving you an idea of this year’s program. Planning to repeat next year and actually have it part of a Family Dive Vacation package where the parents go out diving and their kids join our local teenagers in the program. Is there a better way to learn about Yap’s marine life and rich culture than joining a local program like this?

 

 

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 will give one with each blog post during this Coronavirus crisis.

“Reason #1 Not to come to Yap”


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 Yap”

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.

“Reason #3 Not to come to Yap”




If you don’t like to discover and encounter a wide range of marine life during your dives, don’t come to Yap. We have a permanent manta ray population, abundant reef sharks, great walls, mating mandarin fish, macro life and pristine hard corals.

“Reason #4 Not to come to Yap”


If you don’t like that your room, the dive shop, the dive boat dock, the bar/restaurant, and all other facilities are within a maximum of 2 minutes “walk”, don’t come to Yap. We are built by and for divers. Personalized service and convenience is our goal.

 

As you know, all but a few of our employees are unfortunately – temporary – laid-off. One of the first thing I told my staff was, “if you want to learn a new skill or get an extra diploma/certificate, this is the time to do it”.

Happily my words did not fall on deaf ears. Numie started to pick-up video editing, as you might have noticed via our Facebook page, and a new video from her hands is coming soon. Detlef is learning the art of fiber glassing and Jude is improving his farmer’s skills with great results. I’m very proud of all of them and happy to let you know that OP has been certified as an SSI Instructor as well.

 

 

 

 

 

           Jude                            OP                          Detlef                         Numie

We continue to go fishing, farm, and give staff access to Patricia’s taro patch to help them as much as we can.  The Government also has a much-needed unemployment benefit scheme. Life is good but we miss our daily interactions with each other, and we all miss you – our customers – whom we consider to be friends and family.  Until we are together again, please stay safe and healthy.  These are unprecedented times indeed.

 


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Michael Wüthrich
Michael Wüthrich
09:27 24 Jun 20
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
R. Frobhboese
R. Frobhboese
06:21 13 May 20
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
Fariborz Zak
Fariborz Zak
07:03 12 May 20
Wonderful lovely place worth to try it again
Keenan Woodmansee
Keenan Woodmansee
07:09 04 Jan 20
This is "The" place to stay. Friendly staff and great hotel and restaurant.
Sandie Chung
Sandie Chung
13:30 11 Dec 19
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
Tait Brimacombe
Tait Brimacombe
04:31 18 Oct 19
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
John Yosh
John Yosh
11:27 18 Sep 19
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
Yann Faure
Yann Faure
11:08 15 Jul 19
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
Bruce Tanner
Bruce Tanner
16:13 27 Jun 19
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
Jendrik Schroeder
Jendrik Schroeder
15:18 15 Jun 19
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
Chris Mars
Chris Mars
18:28 26 Mar 19
This is my home island.. Iam just giving it 5 star review cuz i miss home.. Feels like forever since I Last visitedread more
stacey blake
stacey blake
16:26 20 Mar 19
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
Shaun Suliol
Shaun Suliol
11:48 12 Mar 19
The staff made sure our every needs were met! They were accommodating to my groups weird requests. We felt spoiled. They even remember our names. No where else but in Yap at the Manta Ray!read more
Doreen Korbl
Doreen Korbl
19:09 10 Mar 19
incredible service, special thanks to Ruud the resort manager
Michael Fusco
Michael Fusco
04:49 22 Jan 19
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
Deb Roy-Stothart
Deb Roy-Stothart
13:55 06 Dec 18
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
Jan Toman
Jan Toman
22:14 02 Nov 18
Great! GREAT! GREAT! Lovely place, lovely staff, great location for divers!
Ms. Malinda
Ms. Malinda
13:52 14 Oct 18
Great place to stay while visiting the island. Lots of activities to do with places to see & people to meet.read more
Rene Sten
Rene Sten
04:06 12 Oct 18
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
Jonathan Gapith
Jonathan Gapith
10:31 19 Sep 18
Best dive resort around, amazingly friendly staff and great food on the mnuw
Daniel Granzer
Daniel Granzer
11:40 23 Aug 18
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
Emily Caquelin
Emily Caquelin
04:10 02 Aug 18
Manta Ray Bay Resort is a great dive resort with extremely hospitable staff.
William Myers
William Myers
21:01 21 Jul 18
Great hotel. Have stayed twice.
Jim Reilly
Jim Reilly
11:27 21 Mar 18
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
Sandy Stinson
Sandy Stinson
16:03 03 Mar 18
The staff couldn't be more friendly and accommodating. Food is good, (worth upgrading to include all meals). Diving is good too.read more
Alex Divinsky
Alex Divinsky
17:24 01 Jan 18
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
ASALI
ASALI
10:44 01 Jan 18
Offers one of the best accommodation service. It also has a uniquely designed restaurant.
Yi-Hsin Lin
Yi-Hsin Lin
00:53 21 Feb 17
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
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