245 people visited Marshall Islands
Some 1,152 islands make up this island group about halfway between Hawaii and Australia, and while their visage is one of tropical paradise, their history is much muddier than that. The islands were used by the US government as a nuclear testing ground in the 1940s and 1950s, and to this day the vicinity is the most radiation-contaminated in the world; the Marshalese still suffer devastating health effects. Several formerly inhabited islands were disappeared from the planet by hydrogen bombs; the Bikini Atoll, a group of 23 islands, was so radiated by nuclear tests that the United Nations has recognized it as a World Heritage Site – one that few tourists will ever set foot in (though daytrips are popular among wreck divers.) Despite this terrible history, the Marshalese warmly receive American (and other) visitors with “yokwe” - a Marshalese word that means hello, goodbye, and love. The islands' rich marine life has fantastic offerings for divers and snorkelers (the Kalalin Pass reef is so diverse that it's merely called “the aquarium”). Adventurous surfers are rewarded with rideable waves off virtually every coast. The indigenous population first arrived on the islands thousands of years ago, using sophisticated navigation techniques; today, locals and visitors travel between the islands by plane (though such service can at times be spotty), or by motorboat. Travel around the capital, Majuro, is cheap – a 75 cent cab ride will get you virtually anywhere on island. Majuro and the other more developed atolls have plenty of good hotels and resorts, diverse restaurants, and well-stocked shops; the outer islands provide a much more pristine and quiet experience.