Are you ready to disappear for a little while? Do you need to forget about all your responsibilities—especially work—and clear your mind? There’s a remote island where no one would ever think of looking for you, because no one has heard of it. You can stay in a hillside cottage, explore an island still ruled by traditions, and spend your days playing in clear turquoise water. How quickly can you pack a small bag?
You’re heading to the Caroline Islands. The widely scattered archipelago, in the western Pacific Ocean, is part of Micronesia. Yap, the main island, is actually four islands that sit close together; they’re surrounded by a common, unspoiled coral reef. Mangrove swamps line the coastlines. Stone footpaths wind between villages. Homes are made of wood, thatch, and bamboo. Men wear brightly colored loincloths. Women don woven hibiscus skirts. While everyone’s cheeks bulge with betel nuts. Then there’s the money. The rai, their currency, is a donut-shaped disk. It varies in size, but it can be huge and difficult, sometimes impossible, to move.
After arriving on Yap on a late flight from Guam, head east toward Colonia. The little capital was established by Spanish Catholic missionaries in 1885. You’re staying across Chamorro Bay in the tiny village of Worwoo. The secluded Oceania Hotel blends into the limestone hillside. Your cottage is tucked between the tropical landscape, brightly colored flowers, and huge palm fronds. The interior is comfortable, with a king-sized bed, ceiling fans, and organic cotton bedding.
The real treat isn’t revealed until you open the bamboo shades in the morning, though. A deck with wooden chairs hangs outside. It feels slightly wobbly, though you become fearless when you see what’s in front of you. You have a view of the gorgeous bay, which the islanders affectionately call the Blue Lagoon. Stare at the water and watch red-pouched frigatebirds fly into their jungle nests from your chair. You quickly lose track of time. Not that it matters much here. You only snap out of your trance when the smell of pumpkin-coconut pancakes wafts from the main lodge. Day one is off to a perfect start.
The days only get better. See traditional buildings—tabnuws (family houses), faluws (men’s houses), and pebays (community centers)—when you walk through the villages. Stop at the Rull Men’s Meetinghouse, a historic meetinghouse with a raised stone platform and a steeply pitched bamboo roof, along the way. Ride an outrigger, a traditional canoe, into the deep bay north of Colonia. Go snorkeling to search for giant clams and manta rays in the clear water. Switch to a surfboard to catch a legendary wave when the current gets stronger. Then eat a seafood feast—including crab, shrimp, and lobster—when you’re exhausted at the end of the day. The only thing you pass on is the sea turtle. Despite being an island delicacy, you can’t bring yourself to eat the beautiful creature.
Now there’s only one problem: you can’t imagine leaving this amazing island. It only took a few days, but you fell in love with the laid-back lifestyle, the deeply seeped traditions, and the breathtaking views. How much longer can you stay undetected in paradise?