The name Bikini Atoll conjures up many images. Those well versed in history may recall it as a US nuclear test site following World War II. Others may assume that the place was the origin of the name for the familiar 2-piece women’s swimsuit. And the less informed might think that it is some fancy summer tourist destination. But what’s interesting is that all of these answers are actually correct.
Comprised of 23 islands that surround 594.1 square kilometer central lagoon, Bikini Atoll is found among the Pacific Ocean’s Micronesian islands, and is a part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. From Kwajalein Atoll Airport, tourists can travel to Bikini via the Windward liveaboard vessel. The distance between Kwajalein and Bikini is 65 miles in sheltered waters and 150 miles in the open seas, for a total of 215 nautical miles. Depending on the sea condition, the journey takes approximately 25 hours.
What to See There
Bikini Atoll has been open for diving since 1996. The main attraction of these dives is the ship graveyard in Bikini Lagoon. These are the marine vessels that were sunk by the US government during the nuclear tests conducted from the 1940’s to the 1950’s. Among the shipwrecks in this area are the US warships the USS Arkansas BB-33 and the USS Saratoga CV-3, and the Japanese flagship the HIJMS Nagato. Aside from these diving expeditions, Bikini Atoll has also been a site for catch and release sport fishing. The different varieties of fish that can be spotted include Barracuda, Blue & Black Marlin, and Mahi Mahi.
Part of the 29 atolls that comprise the Marshall Islands, the natives of Bikini Atoll maintained a relatively peaceful existence for about 2,000 years until they were taken over by the Japanese during World War I. The atoll would become a strategically vital outpost for the Japanese armed forces up to World War II. Eventually, the atoll would be freed from Japan’s control when the US military wrested their hold on the Marshall Islands in February 1944. But the American government would later choose Bikini Atoll as the site for their nuclear weapons tests, and in 1946 persuaded the natives to temporary vacate the place they had called home for centuries. The tests commenced from 1946 to 1958, and the Bikinians were allowed to return to the atoll in 1968. Bikini Atoll was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site on August 1, 2010.
Currently, a 13-day/12-night package aboard the Windward liveaboard vessel to Bikini Atoll costs $4,650.00, plus an additional fee of $200.00, which is directly remitted to the people of the atoll, for a total cost of $4,850.00.
For inquiries and reservations, Bikini Atoll Divers can be contacted at telephone numbers 692-625-4265 and 692-455-2356, or through fax at 692-625-3330. To reach Customer Service, send e-mail to email@example.com. For technical dive info, e-mail the Operations Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also be contacted through traditional mail at this address: Bikini Atoll Divers, c/o Kili/Bikini/Ejit, Local Government Council, PO Box 1096, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960. For more information on Bikini Atoll, log on to its website: http://www.bikiniatoll.com/.