The Marshall Islands form a nation of scattered atolls and remote islands, which are known for their marine life and diving opportunities. Many of the atolls are dotted with Flame of the Forest, hibiscus and different-coloured plumeria flowers. There are also at least 160 species of coral surrounding the islands. The atolls are noted for their coconut and papaya plantations and for pandanus and breadfruit trees.
The Marshallese are an interesting bunch. Apart from being a skilled seafaring people who know fishing and navigating as well as anyone, they're a thoroughly multicultural bunch. After two millennia of being isolated, the islands began to be settled and colonised from the 18th century by a wave of successive visitors and occupiers, from British and Russians, to Germans, Japanese and Americans.
The most modern atolls bear the marks of all the above, with diverse restaurants and cuisine on offer. The capital of Majuro Atoll leans towards the Western, being relatively developed though still pretty laid-back. The real tropical wonders are the outer islands, which for the most part are immaculate freckles of paradise, though some have witnessed the horrors of nuclear testing.
The Marshall Islands are undoubtedly a diving hotspot, with many enthusiasts skipping the capital altogether and heading for a spot of nature diving at Rongelap. Diving among wrecks from World War II is also popular, though perhaps the main diving attraction is Bikini Island. You may have heard of Bikini. From or near here, some 23 nuclear devices were detonated in tests by the US in the reef, inside the atoll, by air and even underwater. Divers can go on guided tours to explore the history of nuclear testing, while UNESCO has declared Bikini a World Heritage Site for the fact the remaining, direct tangible evidence of nuclear testing. Leased to the US military, Kwajalein Atoll remains in use for missile testing.