Marshall Island

Guide to Visiting Marshall Islands and the Best Things to Do There

Where is Marshall Islands?

Marshall Islands is an island country made up of scattered atolls and remote islands. The country is known for its healthy marine life, diving spots, and beautiful plumerias. Officially called the Republic of the Marshall Islands, this country in Oceania is a United States associated state. Located in Micronesia, Marshall Islands is neighbors with Wake Island, Kiribati, Nauru, and the Federated States of Micronesia. It is named after the British explorer John Marshall.

Marshall Islands map
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

How to get to Marshall Islands?

There are multiple ways for tourists to get to Marshall Islands, although it is one of the least-visited countries in the world. On average, 5000 tourists visit every year. If you are one of those tourists who prefers scantly visited places, this is the perfect destination for you. The international airport in Marshall Islands is the Amata Kabua International Airport, commonly known as Marshall Islands International Airport.

United Airlines and Our Airlines are the major international airlines that offer connecting flights to Marshall Islands. It takes 14 hours to fly from New York, 11 hours from Tokyo, and 4.5 hours from Honolulu. Generally, tourists need a tourist visa to be allowed entry to the country. The visa application takes 14 days to process. Citizens from US and Palau are exempt, though.


How to get around Marshall Islands?

If you are in Majuro, the capital of Marshall Islands, taxis are a cheap way to travel. One of the unique things about Majuro is you can share a ride with people in a taxi. Do not be surprised if you see a local hail the cab you occupy. There are community buses in the capital, although the schedule is quite unreliable. Rental cars and motorbikes are also popular in the country.

Guide to Visiting Marshall Islands


Best time to visit Marshall Islands

Anytime is a good time to visit this country, but the months of May through October are generally considered the best time to visit Marshall Islands. The climate is amiable during these months. If you are looking to spend a lot of time at the beach, then come anytime between May to October.


Time Zone in Marshall Islands

The time zone in Marshall Island is UTC+12. Marshall Islands is 16 hours ahead of New York, 19 hours ahead of Los Angeles, 3 hours ahead of Tokyo, 10 hours ahead of Paris, 11 hours ahead of London, and 2 hours ahead of Canberra.


What currency is used in Marshall Islands?

Marshall Islands uses the US dollar as their official currency. This makes it quite convenient for tourists, especially those coming from the US and other countries that use US dollars as the official currency.


Marshall Island population

The people of Marshall Islands are called Marshallese and are of Micronesian origin. As of the latest census, there are about 77,000 people living in the country. Marshallese make up 92% of the population, while the rest are mixed or foreign.

Guide to Visiting Marshall Islands


Size of Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands location is in Oceania, specifically in the subregion of Micronesia. Two archipelagic island chains of 30 atolls and 1,152 islands make up Marshall Islands. All of these form two parallel groups called Ratak (sunrise) chain and Ralik (sunset) chain. The overall size of the country is 181.3 square kilometers.


What language is spoke in Marshall Islands?

The official languages of Marshall Islands are Marshallese and English. If you speak English, you need not worry about getting around since most of the people in the country speak English.


Is Marshall Islands Safe for Tourists?

Marshall Islands has a very low crime rate. Even if it is one of the least-visited countries in the world, safety is not a concern a tourist should have here. The locals are described as warm, friendly, and welcoming.


20 Best things to do and places to see in Marshall Islands

1. Bikini Atoll

One of the best places to explore in Marshall Islands is the Bikini Atoll. Commonly known as Pikinni, which means ‘coconut place’ in Marshallese, this atoll is a coral reef consisting of 23 islands surrounding a central lagoon.

Bikini Atoll - Best Things to Do in Marshall Islands

Aside from the beautiful coral reefs that attract divers, Bikini Atoll used to be a nuclear test site of the United States. The US detonated 23 nuclear devices in Bikini Atoll between 1946 to 1958 at 7 sites on the reef. Today, divers come here to explore the sunken shipwrecks. There is a diving operator that offers a tour complete with a diving doctor, diving equipment, and meals. It is costly but so worth it. For serious divers, make sure to check out the “Atomic” shipwreck.

2. Arno Atoll

Taking a side trip to Arno Atoll is one of the best things to do in Marshall Islands if you are staying in the country’s capital, Majuro. Arno Atoll is close to Majuro, although it might be considered a long boat ride to get here. Arno Atoll is made up of 133 islands, which means you are not going to run out of island activities.

Some tourists come here to celebrate the New Year holidays. As most of Marshall Islands, the shorelines are long and wide, and the beaches are quiet. You can take long, romantic walks along the beach during sundown, which is the essence of a Marshall Islands vacation.

3. Majuro Atoll

Majuro Atoll is the capital of Marshall Islands and holds about 50 percent of the country’s population. The international airport is also here, so it is highly likely this is where you will land when you first arrive in Marshall Islands. Majuro Atoll is made up of 64 islands in Micronesia and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain. One of the best spots to hang out in Majuro Atoll is near the Majuro Bridge.

You can see the small boats entering the lagoon from the ocean, which is quite a sight. There is a picnic area nearby where locals like to hang out on lazy afternoons. You can also bring your fishing gear and try your luck in catching some fish.

If you do not get lucky while fishing, do not worry because there is a popular fish market in Majuro where you can buy fresh catch from local fishermen. Parrotfish is one of the popular fish delicacies here. Majuro Atoll also has restaurants where you can sample some of the best Marshall Islands food.

4. Eneko

Your Marshall Islands travel should include a visit to Eneko, which is only a 20-minute boat ride from Majuro Atoll. Eneko is pretty small and managed by a family who can arrange your tour for you. Keep in mind that there are close to zero commercial businesses in the area, so bring your own food and drinks.

Eneko - Visiting Marshall Islands
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The water is clear, but it is quite rocky in some areas. If you are not traveling with small children, then you should be fine coming here. Make sure to pack your sunscreen and wide-brimmed hat.

5. Laura Beach

Another place to spend your Marshall Islands vacation is Laura Beach. Laura Beach is beautiful, serene, and simply breathtaking. You can easily spend a week here and still will not want to leave. The sand is powdery white, and the water is crystal clear. If you have little kids, this is the perfect beach to visit.

There are shallow areas in the water with a sandy bottom where you can comfortably let your kids swim to their heart’s content. This is also a popular place for honeymooners and traveling couples. There are enough trees on the beach to keep you cool even during hot summer afternoons.

Apply some sunblock, put on your shades, and lounge the day away in one of the best places in Marshall Islands. You may also see tourists and locals going on an early run at Laura beach.

6. Bokolap Island

When you visit Marshall Islands, visit Bokolap Island in Marjuro Atoll. Bokolap Island is a diving site in the country. Most tourists who visit this island are leisure and serious divers. The depth of the diving sections range from 20-120 feet. It does not matter what your experience level is, you will enjoy diving here. You will be welcomed by colorful schools of fish, varied corals, and four types of anemone at this dive site.

7. Marshall Islands Sport Fishing

Marshallese are known for their love of sport fishing. During your Marshall Island visit, partake in sport fishing and learn how the locals do it. There are groups that offer boat tours and sport fishing tours in Majuro and on other major islands in the country. Bring your fishing rods, attach those hooks, and launch your poles.

Marshall Islands Sport Fishing

The waters of the Pacific Ocean are filled with different kinds of fish, especially those around Marshall Islands. Sports fishing is definitely one of the best things to do in Marshall Islands during your trip. The country rarely experiences typhoons, so it does not matter when you visit; you will always have a good time sport fishing on Marshall Islands.

8. Kalalin Pass

Kalalin Pass is another well-loved Marshallese island which can be found in the Majuro Atoll. When you travel to Marshall Islands, you should include diving in Kalalin Pass in your itinerary. This site offers an eccentric diving experience. Because of how clear the water is and how bountiful the marine life is in Kalalin Pass, Marshallese call this the aquarium.

Diving and swimming here feels like exploring a huge aquarium where you can see almost every possible fish and coral. Make sure to take your underwater camera with you; this is a view you will want to capture and an experience you will want to remember. Parts of the diving site are easily accessible for beginners and even kids. Make sure to book a local guide who knows the site enough to have a safe and wonderful time.

9. Alele Museum, Library, and National Archives

Taking a trip to Alele Museum is one of the best things you can do in Marshall Islands. No matter how small this country is, it is home to a great museum. Alele Museum, Library, and National Archives have displays that will help you learn more about the history and culture of this infrequently visited country in the world.

There is an exhibit dedicated to the nuclear testing done in the country, which is sad and an eye-opener at the same time. Mariners and historians are drawn to this museum, as well as regular tourists. If you have wondered how a country lived and thrived in such a small land, you might want to drop by this museum during your Marshall Island visit.

10. Sample Marshallese food

Eating traditional food of the country is one of the best things to do in Marshall Islands. Food is a huge part of the culture, especially for Marshallese.

Marshallese food

You will discover that locals eat a lot of breadfruit. This is abundant in the country and can be eaten baked, grilled, steamed, or fried. Of course, a lot of the dishes here are made of seafood, coconut, bananas, and sweet potatoes.

11. Jaluit Atoll

Another major atoll in Marshall Islands is Jaluit Atoll, which used to be the capital of the country. Jaluit Atoll has 91 islands in the Ralik Chain. The lagoon looks like a kite from above, and Jaluit Atoll has some of the best beaches in Marshall Islands. There isn’t much to do around here on land, but if you are looking to spend time on the beach and underwater, this is one of the best places to visit in Marshall Islands.

12. Ebeye Island

This is one of the most popular islands in Kwajalein Atoll with a very young population. Most of the people living on Ebeye Island are under the age of 18. Rent a bike and ride around the island while stopping by the long stretch of beach every now and then. The beaches in Ebeye Island are some of the most beautiful beaches in Marshall Islands.

13. Kwajalein Atoll

One of the most beautiful atolls in Marshall Islands is Kwajalein Atoll. This is loved by tourists and locals because of how peaceful this atoll is.

Kwajalein Atoll - Visiting Marshall Islands

You can walk around the narrow streets or rent a bike, visit the small local shops, or head to the beach and take a dip. The people here are friendly and welcoming. You need not worry about wandering around by yourself in Kwajalein Atoll. It is very safe.

14. Maloelap Atoll

Also spelled Maleolap, Maloelap Atoll is made up of 71 islands which are part of the Ratak Chain. Maloelap Atoll has a very colorful history. This was claimed by Germany along with the rest of the Marshall Islands in 1884, and then fell under the rule of Japan after the first World War. After the end of World War II, America became the owner of Marshall Islands until the country’s independence in 1986. Currently, Maloelap Atoll offers great beaches to tourists, impressive lagoons, and stunning diving sites.

15. Bravo Cater

Another interesting place to check out during your stay on Marshall Islands is the Bravo Cater. Due to being the site of the nuclear testing done by the United States years ago, some parts of the country suffered and has since seen geographical changes.

If you would like to visit Bravo Cater, make sure to check out government restrictions first. The crater does look mystical and intriguing. Some divers brave the area and spend some time exploring the crater. Beware of radiation, though, since too much radiation exposure can have long-term effects to your health. If you can get a window seat on the plane flying into the country, you might spot the magnificent Bravo Cater from above.

16. Likiep Atoll

Another awesome place to visit in Marshall Islands is the Likiep Atoll, especially if you are traveling with the whole family. Aside from the beautiful sandy shore where you can sunbathe, take long walks, or build sandcastles, the beaches in this atoll are also the perfect setting for boat rides, paddle boarding, and snorkeling.

If you are looking to spend a whole day filled with water activities that the whole family can enjoy, Likiep Atoll should be on your list of options for the places to visit during your Marshall Islands vacation.

17. RRE Mariculture

Fancy spending a day exploring a pearl farm? If your answer is yes, then head over to RRE Mariculture while you are in Marshall Islands for a visit. This is one of the most popular places to visit in the country because of its pearl farm. Enjoy a guided tour and be introduced to the ins and outs of cultured pearls.

You need not venture far since this place is in Majuro Atoll. If you are looking to buy authentic cultured pearl for yourself, bring some cash and get yourself a pair or two. Pearls also make good gifts for friends and loved ones back home.

18. Drink Marshallese Beverages

Drink Marshallese Beverages

Marshall Islands imports its alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, and some islands even forbid alcoholic drinks, but some of the local drinks you should try are coconut water and pandanus. Pandanus and coconut water concoction is refreshing. This is the popular go-to juice of the people in Marshall Islands.

19. Mieco Beach Yacht Club

The Mieco Beach Yacht Club was founded less than 15 years ago. It was created to provide an entertainment center for tourists on a cruise and to attract more yachts to the country. Here you can see impressive yachts and hear stories of people who have been out at sea on adventures. You can even rent a yacht for a day or two. What better way to spend your Marshall Islands vacation than to go on a yacht cruise, right?

If you do not know how to navigate it yourself, local boatmen are always up and ready to take you on a Marshallese adventure. There are different yacht sizes that could accommodate your group size. Book a tour package that includes meals so you need not worry about anything except having the time of your life under the warm Marshall Islands sun.

20. Ebon Atoll

Ebon Atoll made waves in international news in 2012 because of a man who survived 16 months adrift in the Pacific Ocean and was found in Ebon Atoll. Aside from that, Ebon Atoll is a quiet, serene, and beautiful place in Marshall Islands. Aside from spending a lot of time on the beach and at sea, you can hang out with the locals and learn about their daily island life in Ebon.


FAQ

Is Marshall Islands a US territory?

Marshall Islands has a very colorful history from being under the German Empire, Japanese Empire, and then the US. The US assumed administrative control of the Marshall Islands after winning against the Japanese in World War II. In 1983, the Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association with the United States and gained independence in 1986. The Republic of Marshall Islands is currently a sovereign nation.

Is Marshall Islands safe?

Marshall Islands is one of the least-visited countries in the world, but it is not because of security and safety reasons. The country is safe and has a very low crime rate. You need not worry about your safety when going out and about in the atolls or islands in the country. There are still petty crimes, though, such as theft, so you should still practice caution during your Marshall Islands visit.

Is Marshall Islands still radioactive?

Marshall Islands is unfortunate enough to be the center of nuclear testing, especially in Bikini Atoll, Enewetak Atoll, and Rongelap Atoll. There are some islands that are restricted to the public because of elevated radiation levels, but in general, most parts of the country are no longer radioactive.

What is Marshall Islands known for?

Marshall Islands is known for its magnificent atolls, grand lagoons, beautiful beaches, bountiful marine life, friendly locals, and being one of the best places in the world.

Marshall Islands

Fun fact: pop culture also refers to Marshall Islands as the inspiration of the birthplace of the popular fictional character Godzilla. Godzilla’s birthplace is Baas Island, a fictional island in the Pacific Ocean, which most people link to the Bikini Atoll in Marshall Islands. Spongebob’s residence is also said to be the Bikini Atoll in Marshall Islands.

Do people live in Marshall Islands?

Yes. As of a recent survey, there are almost 80,000 people living in Marshall Islands. This country has a very young population. The majority of the people are below 30 years old. Over 50 percent of the population in Marshall Islands live in Majuro, which is the country’s capital. The rest of the people live in different major atolls, while 24 of the atolls in Marshall Islands are inhabited. These inhabited atolls make up the 24 municipalities of the country.

Is Marshall Islands sinking?

With rising sea levels due to climate change, scientists have predicted that some islands in the world will soon start sinking. The islands and atolls in Marshall Islands are low-lying, which means in the next couple of years, some parts of the country will eventually sink. Marshallese, however, are known for their adaptability. They have survived and weathered tropical cyclones, damaged reefs and fisheries, worsening droughts, and rising sea levels.

A report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted different projected outcomes from a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius versus 2 degrees Celsius. The report predicted that small islands have higher risks of adverse consequences of global warming. This report indicated that the Marshall Islands is among those that are high-risk, including Kiribati, Tuvalu, and the Maldives.

Are Marshall island residents US citizens?

The Marshall Islands has had a special relationship with the United States of America since 1986. The country even uses the American dollar as their currency. This does not mean, though, that people from Marshall Islands are considered American citizens. They are, however, allowed to move, study, work, and live in the US without the restrictions other nationalities face, such as visa applications.

When Marshallese move to the US, they are not considered immigrants, but they are also not considered citizens. Along with citizens of Palau and Federal States of Micronesia (collectively known as freely associated nations), people from Marshall Islands can serve in the US armed forces, pay taxes, and enjoy the freedom of movement throughout the 50 states of the US. The major community of people from Marshall Islands in the US live in Arkansas. People from the US can also move and live in the Republic of Marshall Islands freely and can stay as long as they want without having to worry about a visa or any other paperwork.

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