Kosrae Village Ecolodge & Dive Resort

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014

For years I have heard from Katrina and Bruce about Kosrae; how great the diving is, how beautiful the island is and how peaceful life is at their resort, Kosrae Village Ecolodge. Finally after booking a trip on the Palau Siren I decided since I was going to be in the area I was going to visit Kosrae.

“I’m going to Kosrae” I would tell people. Where is Kosrae? How do you get there?

I'm Here! Kosrae Village Ecolodge.

Kosrae is an island in Micronesia. To get there I flew from San Francisco to Honolulu where I spent the night at the Airport Pacific Marina Inn which was comfortable and convenient although a bit expensive for what you get. The next morning I flew to Kosrae stopping at two of the Marshall Islands (Majoro and Kwajalein) on the way. The Marshall Islands are atolls, barely above water and one of them was just wide enough for the width of the runway and a narrow road going parallel to the runway. So I was very surprised when we descended to Kosrae to find that it was mountainous and covered with trees. The runway is on a man-made peninsula inside a protective coral reef. After a 30-40 minute drive along the coast I arrived at Kosrae Village Ecolodge.

The cottages at Kosrae Village Ecolodge are called “lohms” and are built in traditional Kosraean style with a thatched roof and walls of woven reeds. The peaked roof is open to the ocean breeze at the top front and the plank floor is made of hardwood sanded smooth. On three sides the walls consisted of windows.  The windows are covered by screen (no glass) and are open to the ocean breezes. This allows the cooling ocean breezes to come through the room and keep it reasonably cool without air-conditioning. The windows had roll-down blinds for privacy and/or to keep the rain out. Did I mention that it rained? It rained a lot! Everyone told me it was out of the ordinary to have this much rain at this time of the year. The wind would start to blow and then I knew that I had moments to get to cover. The sky would open up and downpour and then it would be over…until the next time.

Inside my lohm at Kosrae Village Ecolodge.

In my “lohm” there was a large table (that I used as a camera table), a smaller table (with coffee pot and required accessories), a refrigerator and the bed. The bed was draped in mosquito net which I found kind of fun and exotic and the bed was soft and comfortable and had plenty of pillows. The room was quite large and had plenty of electrical outlets although I hesitated to use some because they were wet and/or rusted. Because of the rain the walls were damp, the ocean facing wall so wet that it dripped onto the floor and the front floor was soaked for about a foot from the wall.

Bathroom and shower in my traditional Kosraen lohm.

The bathroom was large and in similar style with wood floor, woven reed walls and thatched roof. The shower was separated from the rest of the bathroom by a wall. The floor of the shower was wood slats with gaps between them so the water could run out. There was a bamboo fence around the shower with a gap between the shower floor and the fence so that if you wanted to you could climb down there and check out where the water goes and what is going on under the room. I considered doing that and then decided I really didn’t want to know what was going on down there and opted not to. And an important shower detail; there was plenty of hot water for after dive showers. There were some shelves in the bathroom and an area for hanging clothes in the bathroom. I used two of the hard plastic chairs as a stand to hold my suitcase and lived out my suitcase instead of unpacking everything since I was only there for a few nights.

My lohm looked through the palm and mangrove trees to the ocean where in the morning I walked out and photographed the sunrise. As I mentioned earlier, it rained a lot while I was there occasionally causing me to run back to the shelter of my porch to protect my camera. But it rained only 5-10 minutes and off I would go again. At high tide the waves pounded at the debris and sand berm protecting the shoreline and at low tide the exposed reef stretched way out and I would see locals fishing on the very edge of the infringing reef. One time I walked way down the beach and when it started raining I had to shelter at the very end lohm, which luckily was not occupied.Sunrise from my lohm balcony.

The open-air restaurant was built in a similar fashion to the lohms and had a large open dining area with a bar in the back. There were plenty of tables nicely covered with cloth and vases of flowers. I felt that an improvement would be a sitting area with soft chairs and a couch, maybe near the bar area where one could hang out in the afternoon socializing, reading or just having a cold drink. The only chairs at the resort were hard plastic and not overly comfortable. The local ladies who worked in the restaurant often had their small children with them who were shy at first but became very friendly and were fun to talk to.  The waitresses were very attentive and the food at the restaurant was delicious! The only place that wireless internet worked was in the restaurant and it was slow. Evidently in Micronesia they get their internet (and phone I think) from a satellite.

The office and dive locker were on the other side of the restaurant, with an area to store gear that was kept locked except when needed with a rinse area and hangers. The first day they set up my gear to my liking and after that took care of it until I left when they rinsed it and hung it to dry. There is a 20 minute +/- drive to get to the marina where the boat is docked. I understand that they can take the boat from the resort if the weather and tides allow. But the marina was fine and gave me the chance to see some of the local’s homes, and some nice views of the ocean and the mountains.

On my last day in Kosrae I took a guided rainforest walk to the Menka jungle ruins. The walk is a four hour sometimes strenuous but mostly easy hike along the river to the center of the island to the mysterious ruins where local lore says the goddess Sinlaku lived. Devotees of the goddess would spend up to a year in residence in two room stone structures;

Me visiting the Menke ruins.

worshiping the goddess and making and partaking of suka (also known as kava), a mildly narcotic drink made by pounding the suka root on flat stones. Salik, my guide, showed me some of the edible and inedible plants on the walk and even climbed a couple of trees to get some of the wild green tangerines common to the area and to get a breadfruit for me to take back to the resort and have made into breadfruit chips (delicious BTW). It was a great last day in Kosrae!

This post is kind of an overview of my visit to Kosrae, including some information on the resort and how I got there. I need to say that everyone there was very nice and took great care of me!

More information on Kosrae Village Ecolodge & Dive Resort is available on their website.

More images from Kosrae.

Gallery of underwater images.

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Jellyfish Lake Snorkel

Posted by on Mar 2, 2014

Kathy Snorkels with Jellyfish

Kathy Snorkels with Jellyfish

Snorkeling at Jellyfish Lake.

While in Palau we went to Jellyfish Lake. There are actually seven jellyfish lakes but only one is open to the public, Ongeim’l Tketau. The lake contains brackish water and is filled with rainwater (fresh) and salt water which leaches in through the limestone of the island. The Golden jellies have been in the lake for so long (maybe millions of years) that they have mostly lost their ability to sting. They pulse across the lake in search of the sun and in the middle are present in the thousands! The jellies bump into snorkelers and each other and it is hard to explain the sensation but it feels a bit like being hit by soft Jello.

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Micronesia Here I come

Posted by on Feb 8, 2014

Here I go again, off on another adventure!

On this trip I will be visiting Micronesia, specifically Kosrae one of the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau (Republic of Palau) which is also part of the chain of islands known as Micronesia. Micronesia is comprised of thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. People at work keep asking me where Micronesia is so finally I printed a map and put it on a wall in my office. The easiest way to explain the location is to think of Hawaii, then head west almost until you get to the Philippines. There in the middle of the ocean are the islands of Micronesia.

Map of Micronesia Showing Kosrae

Map of Micronesia Showing Kosrae

Palau is known for its SCUBA diving, which is why I’m going of course. I’m hoping to see huge schools of fish, sharks, and reefs covered in a rainbow of colorful coral. Hopefully we’ll see manta rays and turtles also! I’ll be sailing with seven friends on the Palau Siren a beautiful sister ship to the Indo Siren that Randy and I cruised to Komodo National Park in Indonesia on a few of years ago. I’ll be joined by seven friends on the Palau Siren, all underwater photographers, looking forward to diving in the beautiful ocean there.

S/Y Indo Siren

The Indo Siren at Full Sail

But first I’m making a stop at Kosrae Village Ecolodge where I’ve wanted to go for years, ever since I met Katrina and Bruce, partners at the ecolodge and NCUPS members from way back. At Kosrae I’m planning on doing some diving along the stunning reef known for its abundance of marine life and pristine hard corals. I’m also going to do some relaxing, read some books and do some walking around the island to take in the local culture. Generally take it easy and get rid of the stress from the busy fall and winter that I’ve had this year.

Keep an eye on Divermaiden.com where I will be updating with pictures and stories as the internet access allows.

 

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Spend time with your mom – go to Hawaii

Posted by on Jan 1, 2014

Mom, Lisa and I in front of the Kilauea Caldera.

Mom, Lisa and I in front of the Kilauea Caldera.

Earlier this year my mom, sister and I decided to go on a mother-daughter trip to Hawaii. My mom had never been to Hawaii and my sister hadn’t been in years. I had just had my first trip to Hawaii in March and enjoyed it so when my mom expressed interest in going there I thought that would be a great idea.

Originally we had planned on going in early May but we had to cancel those dates and eventually ended up going in October. I had found a couple of good places to stay using Expedia and TripAdvisor and eventually booked us into a condo in Kailua Kona for four nights and a guest house in Volcano for two nights. The condo was perfect, one bedroom with a king size bed and a convertible sofa, which we never did pull out preferring to spread out sheets and blankets on the couch as is. The condo was very comfortable and we cooked dinner there several nights and made lunch and breakfast saving us some money on dining out. Wanting to make the trip special for my mom with the true feel of Hawaii I had booked us into an oceanfront room.  That was a great idea providing us with beautiful sunsets each night. Our last two nights in Hawaii were at a guest house in Volcano, which is a story in itself that I will tell in another post.

The view from our 4th floor condo in Kailua Kona.

The view from our 4th floor condo in Kailua Kona.

But the greatest thing about this trip was the three of us getting to spend some time together. We talked about our lives and laughed a lot about things we’ve done in the past. We also made some memories together that will last the rest of our lives. Who could forget the huge manta rays swooping up from the dark water to within inches from us feeding on the krill exposed by the bright lights? There we were, in the ocean, snorkeling in the dark holding onto a “surfboard” as the mantas circled below us over and over again. We could see down their mouths and through their gills. It was an amazing experience!

Night Snorkel with Feeding Manta Rays

Night Snorkel with Feeding Manta Rays

On other days we walked through historic sites where ancient ruins mapped out villages, we walked down long trails to beautiful waterfalls and we went snorkeling in protected bays in one of which Mom and I saw a turtle! We drove to the southernmost point in the United States where the water was the blue of the sky only 10 times more saturated, and the shallow water a beautiful aqua color that I can’t find words to describe. Hawaii is beautiful and we enjoyed every moment. And who could go to Hawaii without shopping. I can tell you that several Christmas presents were purchased on the trip.

Lisa and Mom at the Southern-most point in the United States.

Lisa and Mom at the Southern-most point in the United States.

But being on vacation in Hawaii wasn’t my only reason for this post.

While we were on the trip I noticed how my mother was starting to seem a little frail. Well, maybe not frail; but I had always thought of her as so strong. She is still healthy and actually quite strong for her age, but by being in close contact with her for a week I realized that she is aging, and slowing down a bit. After I came home I knew that I wanted to spend more time with her. So more mother - daughter trips will be planned. Parents; and grandparents are special people that sometimes as we grow up and live our own lives we don’t see or talk to them as often as when we were younger. But this is the time when we should be spending time with them, if not in person then on the phone, on Skype or Facetime, with emails and letters. Don’t miss out on spending time with your mom or dad or your grandparents, take them on a vacation…

Or, just give them a call to say hello and I love you.

The Three Glamorous Snorkelers!

The Three Glamorous Snorkelers!

I love you mom!

 

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