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We continue United award stopover week with the classic (Continental) Micronesia Island Hopper.
The classic route is an every other day flight Honolulu-Majuro-Kwajalein-Kosrae-Pohnpei-Chuuk (Truk)-Guam. There are extensions from Guam to Palau, Yap, Saipan and Rota. Regional connections from Guam include several Japanese cities, Manila, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Booking a trip from Continental US to Microneisa with a stopover should work with the new rules after October 6. Some of the more elaborate routings in the region will likely not be possible. See takes from MileValue and The Points Guy for ideas.
You can stop at each island for two days to catch the next flight or stay longer.
If you try to book Kwajalein you will get errors and need to call in with your military clearance. I have heard there are theoretical ways to get military clearance to fly to Kwajalein and stay with locals on one of the outer islands, which will be an effort in persistence. Following Benji’s comments I ran test bookings again since I had not in some time. I was able to issue round-trip and one-way awards. The one-way award showed an error screen but issued anyway. You can stay on Ebeye and the base island has some public areas, however you are not getting on the base proper unless you know how to operate ICBMs and they want you there.
Here’s a basic example I booked last year (canceled after the military scrubbed the Wake Island commemoration):
The planes are generally old and dumpy, especially on the hopper. It is hard to justify a premium for business class. The international and nonstop Honolulu routes can have better planes. Cash tickets on these routes are almost always pricey, especially Continental US to the islands, so awards are attractive.
My quick take on these islands:
- Majuro – narrow atoll living
- Kwajalein – need military clearance for the main base, you can stay on Ebeye where there is some diving
- Kosrae – small, nature-focused
- Pohnpei – Nan Modal ruins and manta ray diving
- Chuuk – WWII wreck diving
- Guam – hub of Micronesia, even a Macy’s and Kmart
- Rota – small
- Tinain (need a local flight) – drive the ruins of North Field, launch base of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan
- Saipan – so-so resorts and so-so WWII ruins
- Yap – traditional culture
- Palau – snorkeling jellyfish lake, diving the Rock Islands, WWII sites of Peleliu, mangrove kayaking and more
Palau is the all-around one I recommend if you go to no other. After that choose among Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Yap based on interest.