Yap: Island of Stone Money
Yep, there really is a country called Yap. Located 9 degrees North and 138 degrees East in the Pacific Ocean, Yap is one group of islands in Micronesia. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
In fact, if you have heard of it, it’s quite possible that you spend too much time on the Internet searching never-heard-of countries. For something a little different on your next vacation, though, Yap is a good choice. I mean, how many people can ever say they’ve been to a country called Yap?
Yap’s claim to fame isn’t its unusual name but that it is unique in the world as the island of stone money. You might be thinking of stones as in small stones you can carry around in your pocket, but that’s not the kind of stones they use in Yap. From ancient times to present, the Yapese have used large stones—stones so big that they take a lot of mean men to move them — as their currency (though they now mostly get by with the U.S. dollar). So even though the stone banks are outside and are not guarded, just forget about trying to rob them.
What to see & do:
A tour is the best way to see the island. At the top of the list of the things that you’ll get to see in the tour undoubtedly is a stone money bank. You’ll also go through many traditional villages and get an up-close-and-personal view of Yapese culture. Many visitors go to Yap for the diving because it is well known as one of the best places to see giant manta rays. Other island activities include watching traditional Yapese dances, hiking, biking, sailing, and kayaking.
It’s important to note that although Yap is a beautiful tropical island, there aren’t any swimming beaches because most of the land on Yap is privately owned. If you’re looking for a place to lie out on the beach all day sipping mai tais, then Yap is not the place for you.
Know before you go:
Leave your mini-skirts and Daisy Dukes at home. Typical dress on Yap is casual, and although it’s okay for Yapese women to go topless (though usually they don’t in these modern times), women must always keep their thighs covered. Men should avoid wearing short shorts. Swimwear should only be worn for swimming and related activities.
It takes a little planning to get to Yap as Continental Micronesia is currently the only airline that flies there, and there are only three flights in and three flights out each week. From Korea, it’s best to fly first to Guam and then to Yap.