Pohnpei Island is like something out of a Robert Louis Stevenson novel, a thing of lush green ridges, eroded mountain peaks poking through angry shreds of cloud, steaming rainforests, sheer cliffs, and crashing waterfalls. The bulk of the island’s population lives around the coast, leaving most of the interior wild and mysterious. The central part of the island is so difficult to penetrate that it makes hikes that would be considered short and easy in other places, extremely challenging. A four kilometer (2.5 mile) hike can easily take all day and every ounce of one’s energy, but they aren’t all like that; there are hikes for every skill level, every level of fitness. The Pohnpei Eco-Adventure Map Guides seek to provide detailed information about the best hikes on the island. As more guides are completed, more hikes and treks will be added to this page, so stay tuned!
Trails, Paths & Routes
We use three terms when talking about hikes on Pohnpei: trails, paths and routes. Trails and paths are the same thing; well-established foot-tracks, frequently used by locals who live in the vicinity, by sakau farmers who grow their plants way up on the mountain slopes and in hidden interior valleys, or by hunters. Most often trails are narrow, rocky and/or muddy. Routes, on the other hand, are less defined. They aren’t trails that you’d be able to pick out by eye. People may go that way from time to time, but there isn’t enough consistent traffic for an obvious trail to form. Local guides will know these routes and be able to follow them using landmarks that may be not be apparent to an outsider.
Throughout our guides and on this site, we’ve made it clear when a hike can be done without a guide and when it can’t. The majority of hikes on Pohnpei, and certainly anything in the interior, require guides. Don’t try them without, unless you want to get completely lost.
Finding Local Hiking Guides
Pohnpei is still very much a do-it-yourself kind of tourist destination. The local tourism office run by the state is largely useless for visitors; its employees have no training or experience in tourism and do not, themselves, participate in any of the activities covered on this website or in the printed guides. Some of them have never been on a hike before or even visited the most famous destinations, like Nan Madol, and can provide little to no detailed information on any subject an adventure tourist might ask about. Though there are private tourist operators that can arrange hikes and treks for you and provide their own guides, that isn’t always the best (or most affordable) way to do things. For one thing, none of the tour companies on the island specialize in hiking. They take people once in a while, but usually only to the most well-known destinations. Though you’ll have to do more leg-work if you make your own arrangements, it’s really not terribly difficult to do, and with each hike featured in our guides, we’ve done our best to make suggestions that will help you out. Often, just knowing where a hike starts is enough, as you can ask at houses around the trailhead and usually find someone who grew up there and knows the trail or route better than anyone else.
Paying Local Guides
For detailed information about how much you should offer your guide, visit our Local Guides & Tour Operators page.
Gear Reviews & Recommendations
Pohnpei Photography Considerations & Tips Equatorial Blues Pohnpei lies near the equator. Because the sun’s […]
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Check out our detailed analysis of different styles of footwear, including tennis shoes, hiking boots, sport sandals, and FiveFingers, and learn how well each performs in Pohnpei’s conditions.
Read about the strengths and weaknesses of nylon and PVC dry bags and compare and contrast three popular dry backpack models.
Read our analysis of three different types of backpacking stoves and why we choose one over the others for Pohnpei trekking excursions.
Explore the pros and cons of three different cookware sets and read our take on the best type for different hiking and trekking excursions on Pohnpei.
Check out a comparison and contrast of two different categories of water bottles and why we think one is better than the other for hikes on Pohnpei.
You can do the following hikes without a local guide as long as you have the appropriate Eco-Adventure Map Guide handy. Always hike with a friend or in a group, let people know where you’re headed before you set out, and carry a first-aid kit, a mobile phone, a compass, a knife, a flashlight (torch) or headlamp, and plenty of water. More hikes will be added to this list as the Eco-Adventure Map Guides are completed.
Treeless Hills & Fern Meadows
One of the most visually distinctive features of the area between Pehleng and Pwudoi involves the fern meadows that crown the tops of several treeless hills ...Read More
Dolopwuropwur Gun Battery
The most extensive Japanese gun battery on Pohnpei lies on Temwen’s rounded central hill, Nindol, perched at its 60 meter peak, Dolopwuropwur.
The four guns at the summit ...Read More
Kepirohi, which lies on the lower Mand Stream (Pilen Mand) in Kepirohi Kousapw, is certainly Pohnpei’s most famous and most photographed waterfall and makes a nice picnic stop after ...Read More
Kitti has a lot of waterfalls, but one of the most fun to visit is Lehnpaipohn between Salapwuk and Pwoaipwoai districts (at least two kousapw claim the falls area) ...Read More
Lenger World War II Historical Sites
Subterranean Crude Oil Facility (Pahnlenger)
Built beneath Dolen Lenger, the Japanese crude oil storage complex is without question the most impressive of the island's historical ...Read More
Kalangan to Mickelson and Reagan at the Marine Environmental Research Institute of Pohnpei (MERIP) for the kayak rentals, use of apartments, information, and other assistance; Peterson Anson of Pohnpei Transportation ...Read More
Though you can reach the top of Nanpohnmweli from Mand, the best way to access this falls (also known as "Kerenis" Waterfall) is from the Circle Island Road in ...Read More
Unlike some of the other unusual rock formations on Pohnpei, the massive rock of Nipai is easy to miss. Obscuring trees prevent it from having the prominent visibility on ...Read More
Pahn Sile Waterfall
Located on the pristine Senipehn River, Pahn Sile is one of the few waterfalls well into the interior that almost anyone (even small children) can reach without the ...Read More
Pahntakai Cave & Waterfall
Pahntakai literally means "under the rock" and one visit makes it immediately apparent why this geologically-unique location was given its name. A thin waterfall plummets over a ...Read More
Pilen Seleur Eel Pools in Pwudoi
Waterfalls and mountains can be visited in many places, but the experience to be had at Pilen Seleur in Pwudoi is uniquely Pohnpeian. River pools ...Read More
Just south of the newly renovated Sapwalap Elementary School lies one of Micronesia’s most unusual sites. More than 700 prehistoric motifs are inscribed on rocks in the area, the ...Read More
Pwisehn Malek (Chickensh*t)
The disputed Sokehs-Kitti border is marked by Pwisehn Malek, a strange hill of columnar basalt rock that resembles a cartoon volcano and looms over the road. According to ...Read More
Sahwartik & Sahwarlap Waterfalls
Located on converging streams within Salapwuk’s deep Sahwar Gorge, Sahwartik and Sahwarlap are a pair of waterfalls whose splendor and grace defy reality. The wider falls is ...Read More
Sapwtik, which means "small land," is a tiny volcanic island located directly north of Kolonia and 0.5 km northwest of Lenger. Seen in profile, the island resembles a large ...Read More
Historical Sites in Mainland Sokehs
"Military Road" Hike / Bike Tour
One of the most rewarding routes for Japanese World War II-era historical sites follows a road 0.46 km (0.29 mi) northeast ...Read More
Sokehs Mountain or Pohndollap, which means "on the big hill," is a long, mostly flat-topped ridge running north-south along the length of Sokehs Island with a knoll-like summit near ...Read More
Paipalap, or Sokehs Rock, is without question the most striking feature of Pohnpei’s topography. Over 100 vertical meters (328 ft) of exposed basalt form the upper portion of a ...Read More
The German Road
In 1909, the German colonial government tried to force the residents of Sokehs to build a road around the northern end of Sokehs Island. When the people didn't ...Read More
Local guides are required for the following hikes. More hikes will be added to this list as the Eco-Adventure Map Guides are completed.
Kepindau & Pohn Pillap Waterfalls
The larger of two small waterfalls found on Sokehs Island (the only waterfalls not on the main island of Pohnpei) is known as Kepindau and ...Read More
Dolen Nett ("hill of Nett") is a steep-sided mountain running the length of the Nett Point peninsula. Leaf-shaped, this peninsula juts north into the lagoon east of Kolonia and ...Read More
Nanipil Area & Beyond
The easiest waterfalls to visit on Pohnpei (no hiking required) are the tiered "horse-tail" falls, Liduhduhniap, just a few kilometers from Kolonia. When the Greater Nett ...Read More
Lou Rahn Cave & Waterfall
Tucked away in the little-seen Nett hinterlands is one of Pohnpei’s most beautiful hiking destinations. Uluhlen Lou Rahn, a fence-like ridge, extends northwest from the place ...Read More
Nan Kiepw, which means “in the lilies,” is a hillside overshadowed by Dolmweir peak. A Pohnpeian myth tells of a Yapese magician, named Sou Iap, who voyaged to ...Read More
Dolen Eirike (“hill of Eirike”) is a prominent pyramid-shaped peak in Eirike district at the rear of Nett -- easily visible from Kolonia and standing out from everything else ...Read More
Anyone who takes a good look at the mountains on the eastern border of Nett will note a dark patch of naked basalt amid the otherwise unvarying green of ...Read More
Kupwuriso, Pohnpei's fifth highest mountain (depending on how you count them), is impossible to miss when driving through eastern U, where it towers over everything, its precipitous slopes clad ...Read More
North Madolenihmw Hikes
The northernmost section of Madolenihmw is separated from the rest of the municipality by a range of low mountains that run east-west from Mesihsou to Alohkapw. This range ...Read More
Dolen Nahnsapwe, “hill of thunder,” is a small peak near the Nett-U border. As the crow flies, it's about 1.3 km (0.8 mi) southwest of the Kupwuriso summit. Though ...Read More
Pahnsapw, which means “beneath the land," refers to a pair of tall, majestic waterfalls which plummet off the edge of a high plateau in central Madolenihmw (it's also the ...Read More
Dolen Merewi is a flat-topped hill that stands apart from the interior mountains to the west and is highly conspicuous when driving through northeastern Madolenihmw. During the Spanish Period ...Read More
Madolenihmw Bay Area
Dauen Sapwalap / Senipehn Mangrove Reserve
Visit the Paddling Around Madolenihmw page for a detailed description of this location and the adventures to be had in the area.
Nankepinmerepw River Valley
This route passes through the gorgeous valley of Nankepinmerepw, following the upper tributaries of the Nan Riohk Stream (Pilen Nan Riohk) and eventually arriving north of Nahnalaud on ...Read More
Mand Area Attractions
Mand is a little community of Pingelapese people who were given a parcel of land by the Nahnmwarki of Madolenihmw in Pohnpei's modern past. You can't call it ...Read More
The Rock of Silehu
Southern Kitti’s most obvious natural feature is the Rock of Silehu -- a spire of basalt rock that stabs out from the hills above Nintok. Because of ...Read More
Mallen Nihpit & Mallen Pitetik
On the large upland plateau of Nihpit in the mountains above Mwoakot are two expansive savannahs or fern meadows. Upland savannahs of this sort usually exist ...Read More
Dolotomw is the highest peak in the region of Kitti once known as Onohnleng. Its prominence led Russian explore Fedor Lütke, in 1828, to incorrectly conclude that it was the ...Read More
Mallen Pohn Pehnmen
In the remote mountainous area called Pohn Pehnmen is an upland savannah similar to those on the Nihpit plateau, but smaller and at a much higher elevation. The ...Read More
The Six Waterfalls Hike
Because Pohnpei’s rainforested terrain is so challenging to move through, inexperienced hikers might think a jaunt into the wild interior of the island is out of reach ...Read More
Prehistoric Sites & Ruins in Kitti
Map Guides >> Western Kitti >> Prehistoric Cultural Sites & Ruins in Kitti ...Read More
Nahnalaud -- the Big Mountain
The highest mountain in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is called Nahnalaud (which means "big mountain") and is located almost in the exact middle of ...Read More
Southeast of Palikir, Pohnpei’s primary mountain system makes an almost 90° turn to the south at Temwetemwensekir (594 m), a prominent peak that dominates the topography and feeds six ...Read More
Dolen Palikir ("hill of Palikir") is a long hill in the middle of Palikir that runs northeast-southwest and has knolls at each end. The southern summit is slightly higher ...Read More