Marshall Islands is an island nation made up of extremely remote low-lying islands and jaw dropping skinny atolls. From the plane, all we saw were these long strands of land half encircled by white sandy beaches in the middle of a blue and turquoise see through water. Just wow!
The main island of Majuro is not that easy to get to. However, the stunning Laura Beach hangs off the western edge of this ultra skinny and at times congested atoll and is worth the trip. But the ultimate prize of this area is definitely the Arno Atoll which is even more remote.
In this post we share the 3 best things to see and do in the Marshall Islands and all the logistics that go along with this type of trip.
Getting to the Marshall Islands
The United Airlines Island Hopper is an airline route between Guam and Honolulu, Hawaii, via several small islands in the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. The route, is the only scheduled service for many of the islands visited en route. Many of the islands are only serviced once a week or so.
Best Time to Go
The climate of the Marshall Islands is tropical, with high humidity, and an average year-round temperature of 26°C.
Like most tropical places there are 2 seasons here. There is the wet one which lasts from May to November with the greatest rainfalls between July and October.
And there is the dry season which lasts between December and April. However, there are also trade winds to keep in mind which pick up in October and November.
Therefore the best time to go to Majuro and the Arno Atoll is in January, February and March. However, we were there in August and found the humidity and bouts of rain to be quite tolerable.
Connectivity – SIM Cards
Connectivity on these islands is quite slow. Average speeds are around 10 Mbps. However, we experienced speeds of less than 1 Mbps.
We could not find eSIMS that would work here. The only way to purchase a SIM card is through the National Telecommunications Authority which is located in town – here.
When we went, there was a very long line and we were warned that the process will take at least an hour. For both of us to get the minimum 15 Gb of data (bronze plan) it would have cost $70 USD: $25 USD for the lowest plan of 15 Gb + $10 USD cost for the SIM card. We chose to rely on WIFI in our hotels and restaurants.
Getting Around Majuro
Getting around Majuro is very easy to do. The island only has one major road, with a few additional streets in the center. Official and unofficial taxis are everywhere and all one has to do is wave a car down. Be prepared to share the cab as it is treated more like a bus than a taxi.
Most rides will be between $1 USD – $4 USD per person. A pick up from the airport was $7 USD per person when we were there.
Where to Stay in Majuro
As this is a remote, third world tropical island, do not expect luxury. We booked an Airbnb which was fine. However, the host ghosted us about a week prior to our arrival which caused quite a bit of consternation on our part.
Thankfully, with the help of Airbnb we were able to confirm that someone would indeed pick us up and take us to our booked house. The place was a free standing building right on the water with a large room which had couches, a kitchen, bed and a separate bathroom. Cold showers only. We also had air conditioning and unreliable WIFI. However, the sunsets were insanely gorgeous.
There are a few poorly rated “4 star” hotels in the city as well. The first one seemed a bit more western friendly than the second. So use at your own risk:
Unfortunately the only hostel on the island had closed down.
However, if you do have wide pockets and want a bit of a deserted island feel, then consider the Boutique Resort Bikendrik Island. For $1,000 USD per night, they will pick you up from the airport and take you by boat to their micro boutique resort on Bikendrik Island.
Short History of Majuro
Majuro is the capital and largest city of the Marshall Islands. It is a large coral atoll of 64 islands in the Pacific Ocean. It has a tropical climate and has been inhabited by humans for at least 2,000 years.
Majuro was the site of a Protestant mission and several copra trading stations (coconut oil) in the 1870s. In 1885, the German Empire annexed the atoll as part of the German Protectorate of the Marshall Islands. The city was later under Japanese and American administration.
After the Marshall Islands broke away from the Federated States of Micronesia in 1978 to form the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Majuro became the new country’s capital.
Top Places to Visit in Majuro
Today, Majuro is a 50 km long very thin strip of land with a rocky and turbulent ocean on one side and a quiet see your toes lagoon on the other.
It is the most populated atoll and therefore has a typical Pacific Ocean capital city vibe. We walked from our Airbnb (which was just east of the airport) all the way to the most eastern point of the atoll. To go any further would have required a boat.
On our walk we saw, kids playing with whatever they could find. If they didn’t have a ball, they played with sticks or plastic. Ladies bustled around getting groceries, cooking or doing laundry. Churches abound in this country ranging from the Kings, to the 7 Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses to Catholic ones and everything in between. To the Marshallees’, their family and faith is everything.
This is evidenced by how the locals bury the dead. Walking around the Majuro Atoll, we saw that the best real estate spots were occupied by small burial plots. Beloved family members are buried with the best views of the ocean or right in front of the small family home.
Our favorite place on the Majuro Atoll is Laura Beach. Laura Beach is located on the most western part of the atoll. It is a gorgeous drive which can take 30 – 60 minutes depending on island traffic and your original location.
We were driven there by Letto who is the caretaker of a park located behind the airport. The whole area west of the airport is lush, quite wide and has lovely trees and buildings. Arriving at Laura Beach we were asked for $1 USD each for entry.
The beach is peaceful, with a long still pool of turquoise water stretching out to the corals, 100’s of meters away. There were friendly and welcoming dogs playing on the white sandy beach.
Oddly, our lovely taxi driver from the day before – Junior was walking around the premises. He had brought a Russian to see the beach. Junior had lived in Orange County CA for the majority of his life and returned to the island just recently. Even more of a coincidence was that Letto and Junior were friends. Although their original meet-up a few years prior was in a drunk tank in jail. Alcohol and betel nut consumption are a major problem on the island.
Salt Water Pool
On a hot day, we highly recommend that you visit a small park which is just west of the airport. It has a giant natural salt water pool. The pool is naturally made, although the locals have attached a diving board to one end of it. There is a park around it, and during the weekend many families come here to picnic and to swim.
In my mind, Arno Atoll is the main reason to visit the Marshall Islands. Just a short boat ride (45 minutes to 1 hour) from the capital city of Majuro, Arno is a world away from the hustle and bustle of every day life.
With its swaying palms, white sand beaches, and turquoise seas, Arno Atoll is the epitome of Pacific paradise. There’s not much to do on the island, but that’s precisely what makes it so special.
One can spend days on Arno Atoll swimming, sunbathing, and reading a good book on the beach. In the afternoons, you can take a walk down the island’s solitary palm-shielded road. And at sundown, be sure to catch the fiery sunset over the water.
However, beware, there truly is not much more to do here. So if you go stir crazy quickly – like we do, you may want to limit your stay to just a few days.
Getting to Arno Atoll
There are boats that go to the Arno Atoll on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:00 (am) from the Hotel Robert Reimers. Prior to planning a trip there, email Colette, the Manager of the hotel to ensure that the boat is still on the same schedule. Her email address is: [email protected]
Where to Stay on Arno Atoll
The only place to stay on Arno Atoll is the Beachcomber’s Lodge, a rustic collection of cabins overlooking an expanse of white sandy beach. For around $50 a night, you can rent a room with a small kitchenette and a view of the stunning surroundings.
PRO TIP: Make sure to bring any supplies that you may need on the island, including cash, food and sunscreen.
Marshall Islands – a Nation at Risk
Since the Marshall Islands are made up of low-lying atolls and coral islands, the average height of the land above sea level is only 2 meters (7 feet) . This means that the Marshall Islands are very vulnerable to sea level rise.
Sea level rise is caused by climate change. As the planet warms, the oceans expand and glaciers melt. This causes sea levels to rise, which inundates low-lying islands like the Marshall Islands.
The Marshall Islands is already facing the effects of sea level rise. Coastal erosion is becoming a major problem, and some islands are already being flooded. If sea level rise continues, the Marshall Islands could disappear completely. This would be a devastating blow to the Marshallese people, who have lived on these islands for centuries.
What is concerning, is that the majority of the Marshallese whom we spoke with, think that their faith is going to save them from anything “bad” that may be happening. The majority do not believe in climate change at all.
However, recently, 2 ministries of the country have partnered with the WHO to increase resilience to climate change and pandemics. There are many initiatives in place, but how does such a tiny country that produces so few carbon emissions fight such a huge issue as climate change?!
Rob and I do travel a lot. Yet we are taking additional steps to reduce our carbon footprint further. We try to use public transportation wherever we can, we do not own a car or a home, I am vegan (which makes Rob 80% vegan), we do filter our own water and focus on eliminating the use of plastic. But we need to do more.
The Marshall Islands are a beautiful yet disappearing tiny specks of land in the Pacific Ocean. If we don’t keep the world from warming less than 2 degrees C, these islands and atolls will disappear within our lifetime.
These places are difficult to get to and offer little luxury or amenities for travelers. However, if you are curious about remote places in the world, interesting cultures and just stunning beaches not yet touched by development you may want to consider these beautiful atolls before they are gone.
These islands are definitely not the Bora Bora of French Polynesia or the luxurious Maldives. This is more like our beloved island of Eua in Kiribati with even fewer amenities – which is hard to imagine!
Have you been to these islands/atolls? What did you think? Or are you planning to go? Let us know in the comments below as we would love to hear from you!