Here are some common questions about Kwajalein.
|Where is Kwajalein?||
Kwajalein is an island located in the Marshall Islands, which is in the central Pacific Ocean.
It's home to about 2,400 people. There are only about 25 military people here. The rest are civilian employees and their families.
Rising only six feet above the ocean, the island is 2 1/2 miles long, and only 1/2 mile wide at the widest point.
|How's the weather?||
Temperatures are about the same year-round and average 87°F during the day and 78°F at night/early morning. It is extremely humid.
There are 2 seasons: rainy season and dry season. It can rain everyday (sometimes very hard) during the rainy season which takes place June through November. The streets sometimes flood, with several inches of water standing in some places.
There is rarely any lightning in the dry season and it never snows. The problem with living in the tropics is the risk of typhoons and tsunamis. One of the other atolls (Majuro) was hit by a tsunami in 1979.
|Stores and food?||
There are four stores. Ten-Ten is basically a convenience store. Sometimes, there is a Marshallese shopping day once every couple of months. I've never seen what Marshallese shopping day looks like but I heard it gets really busy and crowded around the stores.
If you are somebody planning to move to Kwaj, it's a good idea to have people in the states send you stuff that isn't on the island.
There are four places to eat. Cafe Pacific is only for people who live in the BQ's (which don't have kitchens).
Places to eat:
|What's to do?||
There are a number of recreational activities to do on Kwaj like bowling, golfing, soccer, softball, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, tennis, basketball, indoor soccer, volleyball, racketball, and more. Some things that kids and teens do are rollerblading and skateboarding at the skatepark, and hanging out at the teen center or at the beach. I see kids riding around on scooters too. (sorry if i'm missing some things)
There is an annual event called Rustman, it's similiar to the famous Ironman. Rustman is a race that is composed of Swimming, Running, and Biking.
There's internet, watching TV, listening to the radio, and just hanging out at friend's houses.
|What about transportation?||
If you are thinking about moving to Kwaj, you might want to sell your mountain bike (if you have one) because there really are no big hills or rocky terrain on Kwajalein. The best bike to get is a single-speed cruiser. Those can be bought on island for a high price. Some boys ride stunt bikes.
People cannot personally own cars but they can rent golf carts to drive around the island. There are a limited number of them though.
There is free bus transportation for anyone, especially for people who work on the other side of the island. The buses run three times a day, on weekdays. Buses are also used to pick up people at the airport if they don't have bikes there already.
The two taxis were replaced by shuttles.
|Does everyone wear muumuus?||
No, not everyone wears muumuus! Most Marshallese women and some American women wear muumuus though. Most people wear t-shirts and shorts, but sometimes they wear jeans and sundresses. A lot of people wear clothes with Hawaiian prints.|
Teenagers wear whatever they want, even long-sleeved shirts (or jackets) and jeans. The style seems to be the same on Kwaj as it is in the United States.
Everybody either wears flip-flops, sandals, or tennis shoes.
|What is the TV and radio like?||
There are two TV channels, one is for the family and has some popular shows, the other channel is for sports (mainly) and news. If you are someone planning to move out to Kwaj, bring TV antennas for your TV's, just in case the store on Kwaj doesn't have any. There is no cable TV service available on Kwaj. No companies have television satellites in orbit over the Marshall Islands, so there's no satellite TV either. The commander on Kwajalein sent out a questionnaire asking people if they're in favor of more than two TV channels. The majority of the people want cable but haven't seen it yet!
There are two island-made programs on the radio, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. On Saturday at 7:00pm, there is an alternative program for the teens. After that, is Rick Dee's Weekly Top 40. You can never get the radio station to sound clear, for some reason the radio station is 1224 AM.
|Anything people should know about?||
If you are someone coming to Kwaj soon: when you get off the airplane, a drug sniffing dog sniffs your carry-ons and luggage, so don't bring drugs! If the police catch you trying to bring drugs on island, you will immediatly get kicked off island! At least four people have been caught with drugs so far.|
Guns and rifles are prohibited and cannot be brought on island.
The island seems bigger than it appears in pictures. It is a bad thing to venture off by yourself on your first week without a map or a person who knows the island.
If you get the chance to move to Kwajalein, take it! It's one of those once in a life time experiences.
The trips from Kwaj to Hawaii are expensive, about $900 (roundtrip.) Some people get two vacations, some people get one vacation, and some people get no vacations! There are four airplanes that drop off people from Kwajalein to Hawaii. There's Aloha, Continental, ATI, and AMC (their planes are so loud that they give you earplugs when you get on the plane!).
The stores often run out of supplies. Not that it's a big deal, but things like that happen! A while back, all the stores ran out of AA batteries. I had to have someone back in the states send some. But that was two years ago; it hasn't happened since! We have a new retail manager, and for the most part, things are improving.|
There are popular TV programs out here. Most of them are good but some are bad, like The Steve Harvey Show (and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.) We are supposed to have four channels but only recieve two; that means no channel surfing. The thing I like about the TV out here is that I like most of the shows. Both TV channels are pretty good until they play news or sports at the same time.
In my own opinion, I think Kwajalein looks like a ghetto! I think it's mainly because of the old buildings, they are run-down. To check to see if a building is going to fall down soon, people are hired to put holes in the building to see if the metal supports are rusting. They never close the holes they put in the building, and i think that that would just cause the supports to rust even more because they are exposed to the air and sun. A lot of buildings are being refurbished, which is slowly changing my mind about how ugly Kwajalein is.
The internet is normal here (48kps.) There is a proxy server and a firewall. Not all kinds of stuff can be seen. For example, most real player audio and video cannot be played.
Living overseas has it's disadvantages like slow mail. Mail usually takes a week or two to arrive. That is because we are 3rd on the "priority list" at the army post office in Hawaii, and recieve our mail last. I was told that 66% of all mail-carrying planes from Honolulu turn around. Supposedly they all are old and have mechanical problems. Christmas last year (2001) was most likely ruined for people because 2 or 3 (or more) planes had mechanical problems and had to go back to Honolulu. There was nothing to do at the post office for 2 weeks and the Christmas packages didn't arrive til the day AFTER Christmas!
The local radio station sometimes plays a reeeaaaally bad selection of music! They try to make everyone happy by throwing in a bunch of different music genres into their program. The DJ's are reeeeeeaally boring too. That has made me stop listening to the radio.
Some people really love Kwajalein, just not me. It's not my kinda place. The community is so close that you lose your privacy! If you do something wrong or it appears that you are doing something wrong, everyone finds out about it. If you want something to be kept private, it is impossible. People like to gossip.
If you are single (w/o kids) and close to your family, you are more prone to depression and alcoholism.