The Magnificent Marshall Islands
The Marshall Islands is one of only four atoll countries in the world and is also one of the world’s youngest nations. Its beauty is unprecedented, an absolute must do for any intrepid traveller.January 24, 2019
Rebecca MurphyJanuary 24, 2019
The Marshall Islands is unique among island nations being made up of 29 coral atolls and five single islands spread out over an exclusive economic zone of nearly 1 million square miles (one of the largest in the Pacific). The Marshall Islands is one of only four atoll countries in the world and is also one of the world’s youngest nations.
Approximately 2,000 years ago, these islands were first discovered by skilled ocean voyagers who searched the horizons for new land. By the time the first European explorers arrived, in the mid-1500s, almost all 29 atolls were colonised, and the people here had developed their own unique language and culture.
A young nation politically, the Marshall Islands gained its independence in 1986, after a long history of colonisation by Germany, Japan and the United States, beginning in the late part of the nineteenth century.
Marshall Islanders are known as one of the friendliest and most peaceful people on earth. Inherent to their culture are the important principles of caring for one another and kindness to others. These make the Marshall Islands one of the safest places to visit. While the local population is mostly indigenous, there are many mixed German, Japanese and American Marshallese.
With almost a million square miles of ocean, over 800 reef systems, and countless species of coral and marine life, the Marshall Islands is without question a scuba diver’s dream. The 30-plus metre visibility and year-round 27 degree water temperature make diving here exceptionally pleasant.
One of the Marshall Islands’ key dive attractions is the abundance of WWII ship and plane wrecks.
Atolls such as Bikini, Jaluit, Kwajalein, Mili and Wotje are home to dozens of famous wrecks that have just recently been explored by visiting divers. With only three scuba diving operations based on Majuro and Bikini atolls, the vast majority of the country is just waiting to be discovered.
Name your own dive site
If you’re a diver who’s looking to escape the crowds and to tread new waters, this is the place to be. Indeed, there’s nothing more memorable than discovering a new dive site, and naming it yourself. And nothing beats the thrill of finding a new wreck. Without a doubt, your diving appetite will be quenched, or shall we say “drenched,” after a visit to the Marshall Islands.
If you yearn for exploration, discovery and learning about new cultures, you’ll find a visit to the Marshall Islands very rewarding. More specifically, a trip to one of the “outer atolls,” as they are called, will provide an unforgettable experience. Here, you can find Marshall Islanders living, for the most part, in the same form and fashion as they have for hundreds of years.
The outer atolls are completely unspoilt
While Western products and technology have slowly made their way into the outer atolls, the island culture and traditional lifestyle still prevail. People here continue to rely on the sea and the land to provide for most of their needs. Men still sail their traditional canoes while women continue to weave crafts from native material. On atolls such as Mili, Jaluit, Maloelap and Wotje, you will find a multitude of WWII relics, including anti-aircraft guns, coastal defense guns, Japanese Zeros, bunkers and more.
On Majuro Atoll, the nation’s capital, you’ll find the major hotels and facilities. Here, there is an array of restaurants, bars and local craft shops. You will also find the Alele Museum, which houses pictures and artefacts from the nation’s past. Majuro is home to nearly half of the entire Marshall Islands’ population, and it is, therefore, quite developed in comparison to most other atolls. •
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