Over the last view months, I’ve been privileged enough to see a decent amount of Kwajalein Atoll and thought it might be cool to give other folks a tour of this unique place in the world. The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) consists of a number of atolls, which are actually the rims of extinct volcanoes peaking just above sea level. Over thousands of years, the rims have developed into the world’s most amazing coral reefs, home to tons of exotic fish and plant life.
Kwajalein is actually the largest lagoon in the entire world (nearly 1000 sq. miles), which makes it a stopping point for a variety of large ocean creatures. Dolphins, whales and manta ray can been seen at various point in the year, but I’ve yet to have that pleasure. I’m hopeful that Michelle and I will be able to see many new plants and animals after we finish our scuba diving classes this weekend.
Kwajalein Island, the largest in the atoll, lies at the very south part of the chain. Every other week, I travel to the northern part of the atoll to Roi-Namur (two islands that were combined into one), providing a church service for the as many of the 70 or so full time US residents that want to attend. The plane ride up allows for views of both the east and west reef with many of the islands only 10-50 yards across. While skinny, many islands are covered in dense jungle vegetation.
Certain parts of the atoll are basically completely untouched by humans, only accessible by sailboat although helicopters and small planes fly over regularly for inter-island transportation. Last week, I was fortunate enough to get the scenic view from the helo on my way back from Roi. Small power boats are also able to transport residents around the southern islands for recreational purposes like fishing, diving and Michelle’s favorite, floating.
The lagoon (closest to the camera in the pics) is only 200 feet deep at it’s lowest point with many reefs shooting up near or above the surface. There are many shipwrecks to dive from the WWII battles that took place here (more in an upcoming post) but as you can see, you don’t have to go far for a great underwater adventure. On the ocean side, depths hit over 1000 feet only a few dozen yards from shore. This is why tsunamis do little damage here. It’s an amazing site to behold and one worth visiting if you already have friends out this way (cough, hint, cough). : – )