Quite literally on the other side of the planet, the Marshall Islands are a group of 33 islands and atolls scattered across the central western Pacific. Although they total a mere 70 square miles in land area they cover a swathe of the Pacific Ocean of some 750.00 square miles. Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands, is also the main gateway into the country, with frequent flights from Hawaii on Continental & Aloha Airlines, and from Kosrae to the Southwest.
As the Marshall islands rise no more than 24ft from sea level they are best viewed from the air - a window seat on your incoming flight is a must! Rising from the depths of the Pacific they sparkle like turquoise jewels in an azure sea. Intricate reef systems rise along the edge of the atolls, and coral bommies break the surface within the deep lagoons. These islands are quite literally untapped from a scuba diver's perspective! Warm clear waters lap fabulous white beaches are flanked by coconut & pandanus palms, and you can get a real sense of how Robinson Crusoe must have felt!
Whilst the islands have been inhabited for some 2000 years, they were "discovered" by the Spaniard Alonso de Salazar in 1525 but were not visited again until 1788, this time by the English naval captain John Marshall, after whom the islands were subsequently named. The next 150 years saw missionaries come and go, whalers using them as a base from which to process their catch and a minor German influence on the islands. In 1914 the Japanese took over administration of the islands, heavily fortifying them. It was from Jaluit Atoll that the Japanese launched their Kawanishi flying boats to recce Pearl Harbour for their infamous attack on 7 December 1941. The Marshalls were some of the first islands to be captured by the Americans, Kwajalein falling first and then Majuro.
At the end of World War II America took the infamous decision to use Bikini, until that time an unknown atoll in the Northwest of the archipelago, as a testing ground for its new atom bomb, gathering in the atoll's deep lagoon the 6th largest fleet ever assembled, and subjecting the ships - and the atoll - to two nuclear tests. In the 1950s American used Bikini and nearby Enewetak as their main testing ground for atomic, and subsequent, thermo-nuclear bombs. Even to this day the nuclear legacy of Marshall Islands hangs like a radioactive cloud over the people and islands, despite it now being safe to visit these islands. Kwajalein Atoll, the world's largest, is still used as a missile testing rang by the American military.
We are thrilled to be able to offer a brand new live-aboard for the Marshall Islands, the Windward, that now offers 12 night cruises from Kwajalein to dive the wrecks of Bikini and Kwajalein Atolls. This is without a doubt THE most exciting wreck diving itinerary in the world!