Out in the near center of the southwestern Pacific Ocean just off the coast of tiny remote Micronesian Island, the once-great city of Nan Madol can be found. The megalithic architecture of this place was once the home of many, now it is the eerie remains of the city that famously influenced H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction city R’lyeh in his Cthulhu Mythos.

Local legends tell of how the city was constructed using black magic to fly stones into the remote site. A city of megalithic structures built on artificial Islets along the shallow eastern shore of Pohnpei island was able to house and support a population of over a thousand does sound like an element of Fantasy.


Researchers have found the quarries where these stones came from, though not how they were moved. And, historians are well versed in the history of the Saudeleur dynasty that ruled over this place. However, it is still easy to see how Lovecraft’s mind imagined this destination as the seat of a dark old one and his minions.

About Nan Madol

Built upon artificial islets that were constructed in the eighth or ninth centuries A.D. the city itself rose a few hundred years later at around the same time as the Notre Dame and Angkor Wat.

Nan Madol was ruled but the Saudeleur Dynasty. The dynasty had managed to unite the tribes of Pohnpei. All the former local chieftains of the different regions of Pohnpei Island were moved to Nan Madol during the Saudeleur Dynasty to keep a closer eye on them.

Most of Nan Madol is residential, but there were still structures used for food and drink preparation, canoe building, etc. At the center of the city, the royal mortuary can be found. It has 7.5-meter tall walls that surround the center tomb area.

Altogether, Nan Madol is constructed upon 58 artificial islets constructed on Pohnpei’s shallow east coast. The Saudeleur Dynasty likely held their seat here until their decline in 1450. The city would be discovered by Europeans in the nineteenth century.

Related: These Massachusetts Locations Inspired The Novels By Horror Legend H.P. Lovecraft

Tourism To Pohnpei And Nan Madol

Traveling to Pohnpei and Non Madol is particularly popular with those making island hops across the Pacific. There is a great deal to explore and experience on this island making it a popular destination despite its remoteness.

Exploring The City

The city of Nan Madol is the primary draw with stunning ruins and mesmerizing views that can be taken in on the islets or along their waterways. Widely considered the eighth wonder of the world, Nan Madol will have visitors believing the dark magic stories told of its origin.

  • Fees - three fees totaling $10
  • Tour Types - On-Foot, Kayak
  • Advice - Visit during low tide to see the most of the city
  • Google Maps

Kepirohi Waterfall

Easily accessible with a scenic view, Kepirohi is an excellent location to make the short hike to. There are picnic tables near the top of the waterfall, so visitors can enjoy a meal while taking in the vista of the waterfall.

Sokehs Rock

With a short hike with a stunning vista, travelers can ascend to the top of this rock to experience a stunning view of the northern part of the island. They can see the Japanese AA guns as this rock formation was once used as a natural fortification.

  • Distance - 1.2 km (0.74 mi)
  • Summit - 202 m (663 ft)
  • Google Maps

Ant Atoll

Ant Atoll is an excellent diving and snorkeling location with clear blue waters and an abundance of sea creatures. There are sharks and manta rays as well as a vast array of other sea life to observe. There are also guides for hire that can take you beneath the waves. The Ant Atoll is privately owned as well as a UNESCO marine biosphere reserve, so permission will be needed before a visit

Related: 10 Best Tropical Islands To Visit In The Pacific

Pilen Seleur Eel Pools

Perhaps the most unique destination in Pohnpei, These pools are home to countless huge Marbled Eels. They play an important role in the culture of Pohnpei as they are sacred and are considered a part of the extended family. On Pohnpei itself, eating freshwater eels is forbidden, however, visitors are welcome to visit and even pet the eels.

Pohnpaip Petroglyph

Great for a couple-hour visit, the Pohnpei Petroglyph is an interesting look at what's leftover from the early people of Pohnpaip. The narrow trail that is walked or driven up to reach the glyphs will be a tight fit for larger vehicles and the rocks around the Petroglyph are a bit slippery so do take care during a visit here.