Introducing Marshall Islands
A lonesome atoll © Christopher Michel
The Republic of the Marshall Islands is a collection of 29 atolls and five islands scattered across the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Home to around 60,000 people, the islands have been inhabited for over four millennia, despite their comparatively recent naming after John Marshall, the first European visitor in 1788.
Visitors come here for the incredible diving among the many World War II era wrecks, and the fabulous beaches, many of which are deserted save for palm trees and swathes of white-golden sand. However, there are relatively few visitors, and so it is a good choice for those wanting to experience a pacific paradise sans crowds of tourists. The climate is generally hot and humid, with May to November being the wet season when the odd hurricane blows.
The capital Majuro is a pleasant town and well worth exploring. All trips begin and end here and the facilities are very good. Beyond Majuro the outlying islands and atolls vary from sparsely populated to uninhabited and there are plenty of opportunities to truly get away from it all should you wish.
The Marshall Islands are not without a few pitfalls though. Between 1946 and 1958 the USA detonated 66 nuclear weapons on and around these islands including the largest ever device, Castle Bravo. A number of islands are off-limits due to US military presence or the residue of nuclear testing. More pressing concerns are the prolonged drought, high cost of energy, and lack of employment opportunities.