Introducing Outer Islands
In the quiet, traditional villages away from Majuro and Kwajalein, the people are friendly and a few usually speak English. Although some outer islanders still use the traditional korkor canoe, boom-booms (motorboats) are steadily gaining in popularity. Both kinds of boats are used for frequent jambos (trips or picnics) to uninhabited islands of the atoll.
Visitors to the outer islands are usually looking for great dive sites or decent sportfishing, so if either are your thing you'll probably have to take a package tour. Serious military historians planning to tour the islands should contact local WWII buff Matt Holly on Majuro on
Although many atolls do not have formal arrangements for visitors, the Marshallese are generally hospitable. Only a few atolls - including Arno, Bikini, Rongelap, Jaluit and Likiep - have guesthouses. Elsewhere you will need to radio ahead to the mayor of the island you wish to visit, and arrange for something to be set up, possibly in an island council resthouse or schoolhouse. Contact MIVA for advice about how to do this. Most outer islands lack electricity, running water and flush toilets.
Expect to eat fresh local foods like breadfruit, pumpkin, taro and fish prepared by your hosts. Usually a few stores stock rice, flour, tea and canned meats. Most outer islands are alcohol-free. If you are offered food it is considered very rude to refuse - at least have a taste - and as sharing of food is customary you may be asked to share a bite. Some fish can be poisonous through ciguatera toxin, which affects reef fish and those that feed on them; local knowledge is essential here, so do check before you eat a fish you caught. Barracuda is a no-no.
The atolls described in this section have been selected for their comparative ease of access and availability of accommodation, or for their historical interest - but if you're lucky enough to be offered the chance to visit any others, jump at it!