Lying to the north of the Equator in the Eastern Pacific, the Marshall Islands are an atoll of tiny islands, resting on a crescent-shaped coral reef, and form a large lagoon with a surface area of 1,100 square miles. Majuro is a very narrow, 60 mile (95km) long boomerang-shaped atoll in the southeastern corner of the chain. The largest town on Majuro, dubbed D-U-D (an abbreviation for the islands Darrit, Uliga and Delap), is on the eastern end of the atoll. In town, visit the Alele Museum, which has displays depicting the early settlement of the country. Near the museum is the Marshalls Handicraft Shop, a wonderful institution run as a women's co-operative.
Laura, a small town on the western end of the atoll, has a good snorkeling beach. Much of the rest of the lagoon is polluted. Just past the airport, on the way to Laura, is the Peace Park Memorial. The small granite memorial, erected by the Japanese government, honours all the soldiers who fought in the Pacific during World War II.
Comprising over a thousand flat coral islands of white sand beaches and turquoise lagoons, the Marshall Islands beckon visitors with all the promise of a tropical paradise. There's pristine diving and lush tropical greenery, and the Marshallese people retain many of their precolonial crafts and traditions, especially on the outer islands. The flipside to the paradise picture is that many of the Marshallese still struggle with the after-effects of the 20th century's nastiest technology. Several of the islands - the Bikini Atoll in particular - served as testing sites for atomic bombs through the 1960s, and many of their inhabitants have suffered from radiation poisoning, while their home islands remain too contaminated to be resettled. And yet, despite these hardships, you'll find the Marshallese exceptionally welcoming and their culture and identity alive and well.
The following 3 cruises call at Majuro.
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