Kwajalein Atoll



Kwajalein is the world's biggest bull's eye. Unarmed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) streak in occasionally from California to plop into the center of the anchorage. Missile-defense systems, targeted against the ICBMs, have also been tested there. Nevertheless, Kwajalein Lagoon is a superb place to dive, with one of the world's largest coral atolls and many shipwrecks available to explore.

The international airport is on Kwajalein Island, as is a U.S. military base. You cannot stay there unless you have been invited for business or by a resident.

The Marshallese workers on the base live on Ebeye, a small (78-acre/32-hectare) island about 3 mi/5 km away by ferry. Although there are several hotels there, it is one of the most crowded spots on Earth and not a pleasant place to visit.

Because of Kwajalein's position west of the international date line and its dubious honor as a missile-testing target, residents work Tuesday-Saturday. This allows them to keep the same schedule as their Monday-Friday counterparts (U.S. government technicians) who push the launch button in California.

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