What is it like in Chuuk?
On a world map, the Chuuk Islands are barely discernable, located halfway between Hawaii and the Philippines—swallowed up with all the other hundreds of unknown island names that dot the Central and South Pacific Ocean.
Chuuk (pronounced Chook) is an archipelago. A barrier reef, the second longest in the world, encircles its seventeen volcanic islands. The barrier reef is approximately 150 miles all the way around.
Within the reef, the sea is called a "lagoon". It is forty miles across at its widest point. Eleven of the islands within the lagoon are high mountains, protruding up out of the sea. The largest is seven miles long—all the rest are smaller, some less than half a mile wide. The main island, Weno, has a small airstrip and commercial port, equipped for cargo freighters and other vessels.
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At the bottom of the Lagoon, there is a graveyard of over 100 sunken Japanese ships, planes and submarines from WWII—some actually visible off the shore. These submerged ships have been named the Ghost Fleet of Chuuk Lagoon. Divers from all over the world consider this to be one of the most coveted diving spots on earth.
Outside the barrier reef, there are 192 small, outer islands—some sparsely inhabited—as well as 8o tiny islets—all scattered within about two hundred miles. Many of them are only sand spits, boasting nothing except a handful of coconut palms—or nothing at all.