"Overview of Kwaj" Kwajalein by LiveOnAPlane

Kwajalein Travel Guide: 14 reviews and 19 photos

Introduction

Kwaj is so off the beaten path that there is not much interest in visiting here. However, since there are the occasional hardy souls who express interest in the place, and since it is rather difficult and sometimes complicated to arrange a trip, I thought I'd post a little info on it for you.

The first thing to bear in mind is that this island is leased from the Marshallese by the US government and is operated as a military installation. Not exactly a military base, but rather as what is known as a GOCO - Government Owned, Contractor Operated - facility. In any case the Dept. of Defense...specifically, the Space and Missile Defense Command, determines whom they allow on the island.

No, it's NOT a super-secret base with guards everywhere. Cameras and camcorders are allowed and you can take pictures almost anywhere, unlike some installations I've worked at. It's a lot like a small USA town transplanted into the middle of the Pacific. They even have info on the place on the web.

So, if you're interested in getting a taste of Micronesia, I'd suggest considering islands that are easier to get to, be allowed on to, and have more of the true flavor of this place: Majuro, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk (Truk), Bikini, etc.

Since I am currently living here, I will be more than happy to provide information or answer any (well, almost any) questions you may have about the place.

Air Service

Commercial air service is provided by Continental Micronesia, a partner of Continental Airlines. Since they have a monopoly on commercial flights here, the fares are rather expensive. Currently, they are in the range of $1000-1300 USD round trip from Honolulu. If you are coming in from west of here, the plane originates in Guam and I believe fares are similar.

If you're coming here on business, are civil service, or are military, you have the option of a government DC-8 bird provided by ATI. If you're taking an ATI flight, your outfit will provide you with all the info you need, so I won't go into that here.

There is also Air Marshall Islands, which provides pretty inexpensive travel to/from more isolated islands in the area (as well as the Rongelap picture here). Service is spotty and they often don't fly a route unless they have passengers. They do have a web site to check flights and prices at www.airmarshallislands.com

Living Here

One of the most noticeable things about living on Kwaj is that our mode of transportation is the bicycle. No privately owned motor vehicles are allowed unless they are required due to a disability. Rain or shine, you bike it. Your rain gear is your friend. If your bike is more than a couple of weeks old, it is rusty. Rusty stuff is in what we call "Kwaj Condition."

If we are here unaccompanied, we live in the BQ (Bachelor Quarters). If we are here with a spouse and/or kids, we live in duplex, townhome or dome home quarters. These are supplied to us by the Army at no charge.

We have TV, but no cable, so we use antennas to get our 9 or so channels.

Our quarters are air conditioned, but there are NO HEATERS. Washers, dryers and refrigerators are supplied by the Army.

We have a grocery store, a convenience store, a cafeteria, a snack bar, a hardware store, a department store, and a couple of movie theaters. The outdoor theater is currently out of commission, but we hope it will be working soon.

We have a post office, but it is an APO, so mail sometimes takes a while. We order a lot of stuff over the internet because the selection at the store is very small. It is sometimes difficult to get things mailed to one out here because some merchants do not ship to APO/FPO addresses, and some items can not be shipped through the US Postal Service. There is no FedEx or UPS out here.

How do we haul young kids around? By either infant bike seats or tow-behind-your-bike thingies called "Burleys!"

  • Last visit to Kwajalein: Jan 2008
  • Intro Updated Feb 11, 2008
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Reviews (13)

Comments (2)

  • Aug 27, 2011 at 6:34 AM

    Thanks so much for putting all the Kwaj info together...very thorough. Hope I can visit someday

  • kiwi's Profile Photo
    Feb 11, 2008 at 12:56 PM

    Great insight into the Marshalls, thanks heaps :-))

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