Marshall Islands - The plane below

Enemanit plane

The real reason why I went to the Marshall Island was to laundry money. Haha, no of course not. But most of the time when the Marshall Islands are in the news, it’s about being a tax haven country with starter packages for money laundry or cryptocurrency investments. My expectation about my stay was to go diving all day long around plane- and shipwrecks, which got blasted away by nuclear bombs during the US nuclear testing programs in 1950. Unfortunately, sometimes scuba plans don’t work as intended.


May 4 – Arriving in Majuro Atoll

I forecasted that I will not arrive in Majuro today, as I believed there will be a cancelation of the flight from Kiribati to the Marshall Islands. Read horrible stories on the internet about the high occurrence of delaying flights for many hours or even days among all the flights between the Pacific island nations.

Today morning was a little bit of rain in Kiribati and I was sure as hell there will be a cancelation, however the more surprised I was when no one told me „flight canceled“ when I was able to pick up the boarding pass at the counter.

The flight was a bit more than an hour and I was happy having a seat in the front of the plane as immigration in the Marshall Islands turned out to be VERY slow, with only one SLOW stamping officer for a few dozen passengers. Glad I was not needed to spend too much time in the same heat and humidity as it was in Kiribati.

Walk from Plane to Airport

Not only the immigration officer was slow, but also the taxi driver took it slow, as did the pedestrians, the coffee shop woman, the stray dogs, the…. Ok enough! The taxi ride from the airport was interesting as there are no addresses or house numbers in the capital Majuro. Probably that explains why there is a speed limit of 40kmph so that there is enough time to figure out the correct destination. There is one main road through the whole atoll of Majuro. With only knowing the name of the small supermarket beside the accommodation it’s possible to find the apartment, as all buildings are aligned at one main road.

Majuro downtown itself looks a bit run down, like a large harbor with ship containers and rusty boats all over. A bit similar, but never as worse as Kiribati’s Tarawa. It almost feels like they know the sea level is rising fast from year to year and what they might be building today, is doomed to be flooded in a few years. Yes, so why spending effort in something that might have no future? I wouldn’t neither.
Lot of shipcontainer along the roads
Bikini Atoll Building

Bank of the Marshall Islands
Located in the center


As Marshall Islands were former US nation, I expected to see here a lot of white US American looking people, or that everybody speaks perfectly English, like for example, Hawaii. Most people do speak English but it’s far away to have a proper fluent conversation as they normally speak Marshallese. Also, the people look more like Japanese people who spent too much time in the sun :) at the mainroad


Soon its weekend, time to hurry up!

Ship container Apartment
Right after arriving in the Airbnb ship container apartment, I felt I have to hurry up and organize my activities for the incoming days.

With only 3-4 days in the Marshall Islands and an incoming Marshallese weekend with shut down commercial industry and shops, it might be difficult to organize something and when not doing this today on a working Friday, I will have a problem.


Organizing the dive to the plane wreck

A visitor's centers is located on the main road somewhere, but didn't have time this afternoon to find out where exactly. Instead went to Hotel "Robert Reimers".

Map of Majuro.
Things to see in Majuro

The « Robert Reimers » is a hotel facility which has a visitor’s office and who can give proper information about almost everything. I went there asking for scuba diving around WW2 relics and I thought this is high on demand among visitors or locals. But it’s not :). I described that I’m looking for a specific sunken plane wreck, which is located off the shores on the privately owned island called Enemanit. It’s a fascinating plane wreck not far from the shore, somewhere beside a small island somewhere among the hundreds of Marshallese islands.

As „Robert Reimers“ only provides visits to their private Island called “Eneko”, its necessary to pay for a private boat ride to island Enemanit. An own boat transfer was 25 Dollar and is a 25 minutes boat ride through the beautiful lagoons of Majuro. So I Scheduled it for tomorrow.

Pacific International Inc Majuro
Pacific International Inc. PII
Also required to put a foot on Enemanit, is a permit. For that permit it’s necessary to apply in person at a trading company called “Pacific International Inc. – Pii” – yes confusing, but that it is what it is. I was happy that it was only Friday afternoon and so it was still in business hours including that trading company Pii. Pii is, however, located at the other end of Majuro and had to take a cheap Majuro taxi ride for only 75 cents. At Pii I had to fill out an application form and then they called the owner of the island, which is also the owner of the company.

They had to ask him if I can visit the island on Saturday.

There is someone from Europe who wants to visit Enemanit on Saturday or Sunday, can we let him go there for visit the plane? I dont know how he know about it... but... Oh.. ok... bye.

Sunday is off schedule for issuing permits to outsiders, cause on Sunday the CEO Jerry Kramer is having a picnic there with his family and they want the island as their own playground.

Getting the permit took me around 30 minutes and costs 25 USD. A visit to Enemanit indeed sums up a little. With 25 bucks for the private transfer, 25 bucks for the permit, it comes to 50 USD without any food or necessary gear. But I was happy having settled this and was able to visit Enemanit and the plane wreck, as it was one of the main intentions for my visit to the Marshall Islands.

Enemanit permit - check

The remaining time until tomorrow I spent preparing the underwater camera and diving gear, buying food for the trip to the island as there are no shops or facilities on Enemanit and spent in the apartment protecting myself from the heat under the air conditioner and the free Wi-Fi :). Regarding Wi-Fi, It’s difficult to find Wi-Fi access points in Majuro and there is basically no free Wi-Fi at all. The only company who sells mobile data is NTA and data packages start around 5 USD for 250mb (yes not very low price)



May 5 – Diving around the WW2 plane

Was supposed to be at 10am at „Robert Reimers“, where the motorboat was already waiting. After 25 minutes driving through the wonderful blue Majuro lagoon and passing many small islands like on a conveyor belt, soon the tiny island Enemanit showed up.

Eneko is further than EnemanitMany small islands Islet in the Atoll

Got some brief information about where approximately the plane wreck is located and got dropped off as a Robinson Crusoe on this remote island with no shops, houses, people on it. The island Enemanit belongs to someone and they built a shade and a peer. There were about five pigs and some dogs walking around.

I asked the skipper if he can pick me up again at 2pm and off he went.

With a bag of snacks and a gallon of water, I was equipped for the next four hours. After getting familiar with the dogs and pigs, I prepared for the diving. For protection against sun, I brought a new big bottle of 50spf sun lotion, and a towel around my neck and the head for the diving – I looked like a freakin' terrorist, but nobody was around to spot and report me, so no problem. But without that towel, my head will look like a demolished red Ferrari without the yellow logo within a few minutes.

Me, trying to put the Marshall Islands into a Nutsh... eh.. Seashell
Enemanit

Next islet from Enemanit

The Enemanit owner built a pier
On Weekends the owner goes to Enemanit

View from Enemanit onto the Majuro Atoll Lagoon
View from Enemanit

Pigs and dogs are the only living artifacts on Enemanit
Pigs and dogs on Enemanit



The location of the plane wreck is, with about 100 meters, much further out from the shore than I was told. Also much deeper than I have been told and with an estimated 12 meters depth, already really challenging enough for me to free dive down there with a camera to make some stable photos.

At around 12 meters down lies the peculiar piece of history.
100 meters off the shore of Enemanit

The mystic plane rests since more than half a century under the surface.
Deep but not too deep for making photos

Too difficult making selfie, so a semi-selfie has to be enough

Easy to go down, but not to stay down.
Down it goes easy those 12 meters

But time is too limited to stay down there without scuba diving equipment Enemanit Plane
Corals made the plane their home Enemanit Plane is there since long time
Corals all over.
Thankfully the corals were not broken off

I want to stay for a while... but its time to go up.
Only about 1-2 minutes and then its time to go up again

Corals all over the side and some small fish eat from it.
I wish i had a scuba tank with me to explore in detail

Back of the plane is heavily ripped off
It was used for Transport of goods and materials during WWII


Also around Enemanit there is a crashed helicopter, which is a little further from the shore and deeper located than the plane.
Further away from the shore than the plane

The helicopter is about at an estiamted depth of 15 meters. Difficult to stay down there.
Its about 15 meters depth. Only three seconds before going up again.

After a few seconds I had to move up again.
Not easy to dive with underwater camera and no scuba tank


Now I had about 4 hours until the motorboat and driver come to pick me up. Making proper photos there was more difficult than I thought. Swum out to the plane location and back to the shore for having breaks about 5-6 times. The heat is uncomfortable, but what more is to concern about are the jellyfishes. They are almost invisible, but they do sting (without poison) and I my legs and arms were covered in itchy jellyfish scars by the end of the day.

Tiny fishes at a rope.
Tiny fishes on the a rope

Also some corals can be found

I bet Majuro offers wonderful corals around many of its Atolls.
Still very intact are these Corals

Found this big coral on the way back to the shore


To my surprise the boat showed up on time and this. After knowing the location of the plane, this was the last chance to take a glimpse on the wreck before leaving. The plane is even visible from above water, as it’s the shape and the grey are clearly visible through the clear turquoise water.

From above it looks like a planeIt almost goes as MH370MH370 off the shore in Marshall IslandsPlane wreck visible from above the surfaceEnemanit Plane off the shoresStaying a bit longer would be great to explore the plane even further


I wanted to go Scuba diving and Scuba diving around Majuro is possible, there are two (semi) professional dive operators. One is “Raycrew” which is located inside the Marshall Island Resort and the other one is a Matt Holy, who has his « shop » behind EZ market. Matt takes out divers upon request. Matt also has a private courtyard in the Lagoon where he sunk different vessels by himself. I contacted both before and during my stay in Majuro and exchanged some emails. I was even at both „offices“ in person but at the offices of both operators either no one was there or, some friend who wasn’t able to provide final arrangements or organize. Raycrew answered then by email that they have no other divers these days and with me as only one diver, they not go diving on Sunday as they are a little tired from working… (wait, what??). Matt was so kind and offered me for a fair price, a dive around the vessels he sunk. But this wasn’t really what I was hoping to dive for in the Marshall Islands. So it’s quite difficult to find a REAL Scuba Diving opportunity around Majuro.


May 6 – Walking in Majuro

On Sunday almost everything was shut down, because yes, it’s Sunday :) There is not so much to do in Majuro by default. One of the best that came to my mind was to walk around, up to the top of Majuro atoll and back down. Even there are not a lot of architectural masterpieces in Majuro, walking along the main road and along the lagoon offers to get a view on hidden treasures. Sometimes it’s a rusty boat where people swim in and around or otherwise it’s to observe the slow lifestyle of the locals.

People walk so slowly there, they look like they’re drunk, but yes they are not in a hurry. Neither are cars on the road. Max speed is somewhere between 30-40kmph and most of them drive even slower :)
Along the mainroad

No Alcohol in many Majuro Villages

In front of a ship wreck at the lagoon

Not much going on at Sundays in Majuro

People singing in Majuro
Recreational activity in Majuro

Many people enjoy sitting below this tree. Its a central meeting point.
Big tree for church participants

Well equipped stores along the main road
Well equiped store in Majuro


Walked and walked without an end in sight. Came across the museum which is obviously closed on Sunday, but at least I was able to take a glimpse of the boat garage (WAM) where they are building traditional Marshallese canoes.
They are professional canoe constructors


Found out today that I just missed the 39th constitution day of Marshall Islands. It was just some days ago and there were celebrations with traditional shows and traditional clothed people who dance around, traditionally.
Missed it by a few days

Main road right in front of the RMI

They celebrate independence for the 39th time


But instead of the constitution fireworks, I saw a lot of trash again in some areas of Majuro and at the shores. Not as worse as Kiribati, but also here many people like to use the shores as a dumpster and to do toilet business in the lagoons. However, the majority of these people try their BEST to keep things clean and they are all friendly people. Everybody smiles and when making photos they like to wave into it. Even when I stand there 50 meters away and they spot a camera, hands start to wave the friendly way. Also in Marshall Islands there is lot of trash
From the main road its not easily visible, but there is a lot of trash dumped at the lagoon in Majuro.
Not visible from the main road is the trash around the lagoon

Friendly people everywhere. They wave hands and shout hello's from all over when they see a camera :) Kind locals taking a bath in the lagoon

Tomorrow I have the onward flight to Pohnpei in Micronesia. Hopefully there is no issue with the weather tomorrow, as this afternoon it was a bit windy with dark clouds. I’m a bit scared that this might become worse by tomorrow and some sensitive pilot delays the flight.



May 7 – There we go with flight cancelations

I got hit by a flight cancelation and I hope it was the first and last one for this Oceania trip. Flight cancelations are among the worst case scenario for this trip, as any delay or cancellation can be the “Game Over” of the trip, as I will lose almost all remaining flights of total 19 flights these 5 weeks.

Sorry, flight today is canceled! Please come back tomorrow, ok?

Today I was supposed to fly towards the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) to the island Pohnpei, but United Airlines canceled the flight just when I arrived at the airport in Majuro for picking up the boarding pass. The reason was a defective part of the plane. Departure will be TOMORROW same time.
Flights do easily get canceled by united airlines

At least United Airlines offered me to stay in Marshall Island Resort, which has however, a better name than the service :). There were three other Chinese passengers who wanted to fly with the same plane to Guam. At least I was not the only one who had become annoyed by a flight cancelation.

This cancelation thankfully doesn’t hurt me toooo much. With 6 days in Micronesia I have plenty of time there and with one less, it’s not the end of the trip. I just hope such things don’t occur in the next few weeks. Cause if the fit does, I have a really uncomfortable problem to fix, as my plane schedules are so tight and depend on each other.

No comments