Manta rays are graceful, huge (more than 2,000 pounds and a wingspan of 16 feet), harmless (no stingers, and they eat plankton), and about a hundred of them are year-round residents of the waters off Yap. From November through May, large schools of mantas spend part of each day feeding in Miil Channel, the island’s most famous dive spot. You can drift with them (and watch gliding courtship acrobatics) and at slack tides, watch as the mantas arrive at shallow “cleaning stations,” where they allow small cleaner wrasses to preen them of parasites.
Round up the usual deep-water suspects – marlin, sailfish, tuna, wahoo, and mahimahi. But add Giant Trevally to the list. The trevally fishing, a specialty of local guides, takes place from boats drifting along just outside the barrier reef; using light tackle; you cast into the breaking surf to hook up with the fish, weighing up to 40 pounds – and then try to keep them out of the sharp coral.
There is no better time to see Yapese dance performed than Yap Day, celebrated annually on March 1, when dancers (the women in grass skirts, the men in loincloths) from nearly a dozen villages present dances – including lively stick dances – they have worked on for most of a year. Yap Day is also a time to watch traditional Yapese games and contests (including spear throwing), and see a tattooing exhibition.