Scuba Diving Marshall Islands
There are over 1000 species of fish plus 250 species of soft and hard corals along with spectacular visibility. Wrecks, coral pinnacles, breathtaking drop offs and the channels teaming with large pelagics will likely make the Marshall Islands the next World Heritage site.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands is one of only four atoll nations in the world and is also one of the world’s youngest nations, being independent since only 1986. The Marshall Islands consists of 29 atolls each made up of many islets and 5 islands in the central Pacific, is about midway between Hawaii and Australia.
The atolls and islands are situated in two almost parallel chain-like formations known as the Ratak (Sunrise or Eastern) group and Ralik (Sunset or Western) group. The total number of islands and islets in the whole Republic is approximately 1,225 spreading across a sea area of over 750,000 square miles. All the islands have white, sandy beaches, tall palm trees and turquoise lagoons. It is located about halfway between Hawaii and Australia. The Marshall Islands is the 5th least visited country in the world.
The more developed atolls have well-stocked stores carrying international groceries, restaurants serving the food of several nations, and basketball courts on many street corners. On the quieter backstreets, the Marshallese continue to live in family compounds, surrounded by flowers.
The two main atolls have quite different characters. While it’s westernized, the capital, Majuro Atoll, retains much of the languid feel of the tropics. In contrast, Kwajalein Atoll is leased to the US military for missile testing and is virtually closed to nonmilitary visitors.
The real charm lies in the outer islands, which – except for the traumatic nuclear history of some – still retain the pristine feel of the tropical Pacific. You can still get a feel for the classic Robinson Crusoe lifestyle by visiting one of the small islands in Majuro Atoll, though divers often bypass Majuro and head straight to Bikini for WWII wreck-diving or Rongelap for nature-diving.
Pristine coral reefs teeming with life are a way of life for the Marshallese people. With year round warm water temperatures snorkeling, scuba diving, boating, canoeing, fishing, windsurfing and surfing are highly popular activities throughout the islands.
SCUBA DIVING MARSHALL ISLANDS
The Marshall Islands are one of the best dive spots in the world, for both wreck and reef diving. The sites are almost untouched in their beauty and clarity of the water is spectacular. Over a thousand species of fish are found in the Marshall Islands, as well as over 250 species of hard and soft corals. The wrecks, coral pinnacles, the drop offs and the channels are breathtaking. Divers who have sampled the Marshall Islands belong to a very select fellowship of shared memory.
On the west side of the International Date Line, the Marshall Islands boasts 84 degree clear, flat water, acres of hard and soft corals, giant clams with blue and green lips, and an abundance and diversity of Micronesian tropical fish.
Scuba diving or snorkeling is what most of the mere 5,000 tourists a year come to Marshall Islands to do. Most want to see the vast variety of fish, some are in it for wreck diving. The largest wreck and the only diveable aircraft carrier in the world, The USS Saratoga, is found on the bottom of the Bikini Atoll lagoon.
In 2011, the Marshallese government established a 772,000-square mile shark sanctuary in the islands. For comparison, its size is four times the size of the state of California. It is the largest shark sanctuary in the world and encompasses the entire nation. Regulations include a complete prohibition on the commercial fishing of sharks as well as the sale of any sharks or shark products. Its zero retention stipulation requires that any shark caught accidentally by fishing vessels must be set free.
HIGHLIGHT DIVE AREAS
Majuro offers world class diving. There are over 1000 species of fish to be found here with 250 plus species of soft and hard corals along with spectacular visibility. With wrecks, coral pinnacles, breathtaking drop offs and the channels teaming with large pelagics.
Bikini Atoll Prior to the explosion of the first atomic bomb on the island, the lagoon at Bikini was designated as a ship graveyard by the United States Navy following World War II. Today the Bikini Lagoon is still home to a large number of vessels from the United States and other countries that were part of the atomic testing. The lagoon contains a much more sea life than usual, including sharks, due to the lack of fishing, all of which increases its fascination as a diver’s adventure spot.
Shipwrecks in the lagoon include: USS Saratoga (CV-3), USS Apogon (SS-308), USS Arkansas (BB-33), USS Gilliam (APA-57), USS Lamson (DD-367), USS Pilotfish (SS-386), Japanese battleship Nagato
Rongelap Atoll, after 50 years of isolation, following nuclear weapons testing, Rongelap is now accessible to divers who want the thrill of pristine waters and beautiful coral reefs dropping into thousands of feet of blue ocean. Marine scientists are calling it the next World Heritage site.
DIVING SEASON: Year around. The summer months (May-September) are generally the warmest and the seas are at their calmest. The winter months, although breezier, remain warm and comfortable.
VISIBILITY: 100 feet + around Majuro and Rongelap and from 50 to 150 feet in Bikini, depending upon weather conditions.
WATER TEMPERATURE: 80-84F (27-28C) all year around.
WEATHER: The summer months (May-September) are generally the warmest and the seas are at their calmest. The winter months, although breezier, remain warm and comfortable.
SKILL LEVELS: Dives for all diver skill levels are available around Majuro and Rongelap. The fleet of sunken ships in Bikini are all deep. The operators require divers to have good basic diving skills and at least 75 dives to dive Bikini.
MARINE LIFE: Sharks of many different species plus more schools of fish and macro critters than you may have ever seen before. Pelagics abound. Wrecks and war material are frequently diveable throughout the country plus the Nuclear Test Fleet of Wrecks at Bikini.
CLIMATE: The climate is hot and humid, with a wet season from May to November. The daily temperature is around 80F (27C), with relatively high humidity. The northern Marshalls are quite dry, but some southern islands get up to 160 inches (4060mm) of rain a year. Thankfully, full-blown tropical storms and cyclones are rare – the last memorable one was in 1918. However, many Pacific typhoons begin as tropical storms in the Marshall Islands region, and grow stronger as they move west toward the Mariana Islands and the Philippines.
LANGUAGE: The two official languages are Marshallese and English.
ELECTRICITY: Voltage: 110-120 Volts, the same as U.S./Canada.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The Marshall Islands’ currency is the US dollar. Credit cards are increasingly accepted on Majuro but have limited use elsewhere. ATMs are available only on Majuro.
GRATUITIES: Tipping is customary in the few ‘top-end’ restaurants but not elsewhere.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Satellite, telex, telephone, cable, facsimile and electronic mail are available. International Roaming services are available from some countries and with some service providers. Local SIM cards and cell (mobile) phone rental services are also available for purchase or hire. There are several internet cafes located on Majuro and most accommodation providers offer wifi access areas.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: All visitors must have a passport valid for at least six months, must have sufficient funds for stay, and have an onward/return air or sea ticket. Citizens of the United States, Palau, and FSM are exempt from visa requirements. Citizens of the Pacific Islands Forum countries, including Australia and New Zealand, Canada, European Union (includes United Kingdom), South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines who intend to visit the Republic (as tourists) may be issued with visitors visas UPON ARRIVAL. Citizens from all other countries not listed above must apply for visa PRIOR TO traveling to the Republic. A tourist visa is valid for 30 days.
CUSTOMS: Travelers over the age of 18 may bring in 2-1/2 cartons of cigarettes, 2 liters of liquor and 8 ounces of chewing tobacco duty free. Importing firearms, ammunition and drugs is strictly prohibited. Coral and turtle shell are prohibited exports.
DEPARTURE TAX: A departure fee of $20.00 U.S. is required except for children less than 12 years old and adults over 60 years old.
GETTING THERE: The two main airlines servicing the Marshall Islands from abroad are;
United Airlines. United operates between Asia and Honolulu and provides a connection to the Marshall Islands in both directions
Our Airline. Our Airline operates between Australia and the Marshall Islands and also connects with Nauru and Kiribati.
Within the Marshall Islands you can fly between the islands with Air Marshall Islands
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