Yap is known for its great diving, but we like it because of its fascinating people, who've managed to preserve their traditional culture relatively intact. Yap, or Wa'ab, consists of three islands (Yap, Gagil-Tomil and Maap) joined by bridges. Several hundred yards/meters away, but with no bridge to it, is Rumung, whose residents are not yet ready to allow tourists.

The people of Yap Island live primarily among the mangrove swamps, palm groves and beaches along the coast. The island is full of reminders of the past: Ancient stone paths crisscross the island, many of them still in use. These paths connect villages with each other and with taro pits that are irrigated with runoff from the pathways. Along many paths and in many villages are "banks" of Yap's famous stone money: carved circular stones, some 12 ft/4 m in diameter. This money is still used for certain customary transactions, such as the sale of land. Some villages, including Kadaay and Maa, will organize traditional dancing or other cultural activities such as weaving. Yap is a good place to find handicrafts, particularly pandanus basketry and hand-woven cloth.

The diving off Yap is excellent: It's almost as varied—if not quite as spectacular—as that off Palau, but with fewer divers. It is probably one of the best places in the world to view manta rays: You can sit on the ocean floor and watch these ethereal creatures as they are met by cleaner wrasses (small fish that eat parasites attached to the rays). Also, there is perhaps no other place on Earth where they can be seen on such a consistent basis year-round. This fact has catapulted Yap to the top on all lists of the world's finest diving attractions.

You'll need to get permission to visit the outer islands, and women may have to go topless: Many islands still require that tourists dress in the local style—loin cloth for men and lava-lava skirts and no top garment for women. We recommend three nights on Yap. 1,420 mi/2,285 km west of Pohnpei.

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