Beach worshippers and diving devotees could do worse than head for Micronesia. In the Pacific Ocean, around 5,150 km west-southwest of Honolulu, lie two thousand tiny tropical islands dotted over more than three million square miles. The islands belong to one of eight groups each with its own identity, language and heritage – Guam, the Republic of Palau, the Marianas, Ponhpei, Yap, Chuuk, the Marshalls and Kosrae.

In terms of territory, Micronesia isn’t one country. The island groups are linked in that they were formerly part of the U.S. Trust Territory of Micronesia. Guam is a United States territory while the Republic of Palau and the Marshalls are independent nations. The Marianas is a commonwealth connected with the United States while Ponhpei, Yap, Chuukand Kosrae are combined as the Federated States of Micronesia, which possess an agreement of free association with the United States.

The tiny islands are the result of volcanic activity millions of years ago. Some islands are the tips of underwater mountains while many of the atolls are the rims of sunken volcano craters. The low coral atolls, with their serene blue-green lagoons, offer incredible diving opportunities.

Guam is the largest island and a popular beach and diving destination for Japanese, Korean and Taiwan visitors. Palau on the other hand is home to Micronesia’s strangest natural beauty, the Rock Islands – perfect for diving or kayaking. The Marianas are comparatively fairly touristy but away from the bustle of Saipan it’s possible to find plenty of tranquil beaches such as Tinian and Rota. The Marshalls are most famous for the island of Bikini Atoll where atomic bomb testing in the 1960s sadly led to radiation poisoning for many of its inhabitants. Otherwise these tropical coral islands are spectacular and offer fantastic diving and green vegetation.

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