I recently had the pleasure of doing a dive trip to Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia. We stayed four nights at the Manta Ray Bay Resort. There are only a small handful of options for accommodations in Yap, which can be found on the Yap Visitors Bureau website. To the best of my knowledge, I believe that the Manta Ray Bay Resort (MRBR) is the only one located on the open water side of the island (not within the bay) that runs its own dive operation, which is why we chose to stay there.
MRBR offered reasonable rates. They were able to put together a package for my family of four that included accommodations, diving and breakfast. Everyone who arrives in Yap is greeted at the airport with fresh hand-made leis. We were picked up by the MRBR shuttle and driven straight to the resort in short order. They were quick and organized with check-in. The room was very simple, definitely nothing fancy, but it allowed just enough space to sleep my family of four. I would highly recommend bringing your own shampoo, conditioner and other toiletries, as the hotel’s were very limited, and they didn’t get refilled each day unless we specifically asked. The soap, however, was adorably shaped like the stone money of Yap. There were manta ray shaped cookies in our room as a check-in amenity.
Since flights into Yap typically arrive in the middle of the night, MRBR automatically scheduled a mid-morning departure time for our first day of diving to allow us to sleep in a bit, and they were flexible about changing departure times, dive sites, and which boat we were on each day, based on individual requests. The dive operation was well run with friendly and capable boat captains and dive masters who accompanied us on each dive. The boat ride out to the dive sites was through a channel of mangroves, which felt like a scenic tour. The dive operation was conveniently located on the hotel property, so we were able to walk from our room, to the restaurant for breakfast, and then straight to the dive boat each morning. They rinsed our dive gear for us each afternoon and had it back on the boat waiting for us again the next morning.
It would have been nice if they stocked more small tanks for divers. My kids and I (along with many experienced divers who don’t use much air during their dives) prefer to dive with smaller tanks. They were able to find one for my 11-year-old daughter on the last day, but that was it. Other than that minor inconvenience, their dive operation was top notch.
The staff at the hotel were spectacularly friendly. The restaurant staff remembered us by name, along with what we liked to order, and they made us feel right at home. It was like greeting friends everyday when we arrived for each meal. One interesting feature of the hotel was the old wooden ship converted into the main restaurant and bar. My kids also liked the friendly resident cats with their stone money-shaped collars. Though the hotel offered a pool with a view, we didn’t take much advantage of it, since we spent everyday in the ocean scuba diving. It was a nice feature to have at hand though, when we did want to take a plunge. I booked a massage at the on-site spa, which was very relaxing after several days of diving.
On our last day, which was our decompression day before flying home, we chose to book a tour through the hotel. The book of optional tours provided by the hotel advertised a Culture Tour which sounded amazing. The hotel General Manager specifically recommended a “culture tour” at his happy hour meet-and-greet on the first day, so we chose to book that. We were very clear with the staff at the front desk about which tour we wanted, and they gladly charged the tour for four to our room bill. However, partway into the tour, we came to realize that we were on a different tour entirely. There was no cultural dance performance, weaving lesson, or traditional food. It was in fact a bus tour of WWII wrecks along with a stop at a traditional hut and the Stone Money Bank. When we returned to the hotel, we asked why we were sent on the wrong tour, and we were told by the general manager that they only offer one tour, not the variety of options advertised in their hotel materials. He didn’t offer to refund our money or try to make it right in any way. He simply had an “Oh well, sorry about that,” type attitude.
Overall, the Manta Ray Bay Resort is certainly no five-star accommodation, but it is among the best the remote island of Yap has to offer. Most importantly for me, it offers a great dive experience in one of the most unique dive site locations in the world. The restaurant staff and dive masters made our stay very pleasant, and though we didn’t get the exact cultural experience for which we had hoped, we did enjoy learning more about Yap’s interesting history.