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This shop is run by the Yokwe Yuk Women's Society and profits go to benefit the Marshallese. It has a good number of Marshallese handicrafts and others from such places as Yap.
It has limited hours of operation, so check before biking down to it.
What to buy: The favored items are wall hangings woven from pandanus leaves and including seashells and other decorations and story boards, which are hand carved planks depicting Micronesian scenes or legends.
TIP: If you're coming from Honolulu, you will make a 50-60 minute stop in Majuro before landing here. Inside the air terminal are vendors also sellign handicrafts and they are around 20% cheaper than on Kwaj. Since there's a 50% chance you have to get off the plane anyway while they search it, do yourself a favor and peruse their offerings.
(Usually, only one side of the plane has to get off. Don't ask me why they do this; anyone on the plane has already BEEN through security, so why search the plane??)
What to pay: $20-50 USD for wall hangings, $45 and up for the hand carved story boards.
Written Jan 18, 2008
Sun - We're not far from the equator and the UV is intense. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats are highly recommended. The time between getting a little red and total immolation out here is 6.3 seconds, so don't say you weren't warned.
Sharks - You go diving or snorkeling, you're gonna see sharks. Get used to the idea. Most are innocuous. I don't know of there ever having been a true shark attack here. If they start getting interested in you, get out of the water.
Morays - They are pretty mellow despite their fierce appearance. Don't bother them and they won't bother you. I would not suggest trying to hand feed them.
Sea Urchins - Most have sharp spines, so don't handle. If you're walking on the reef, wear sturdy tennis shoes and watch where you step.
Stonefish - The most poisonous fish in the world lives here. Their camouflage is unbelievably good. I have had a fellow diver pointing one out to me and it still took a minute or two before I could spot it. If you're walking in shallow water, sturdy shoes are your best protection because you are not going to see this nearly invisible rascal. Don't try to handle or play around with them, it's not worth a medevac to Hono.
Coconut crabs - Very few of these on Kwaj now, but lots are still on other islands like Roi-Namur. They are ugly but delicious. Don't try to hand-catch them unless you know what you're doing! If you want some idea of how strong their claws are, consider that their name comes from the fact that coconut meat is part of their diet...you ever try to open up a coconut?
Poison Cone Shells - It is unlikely you'll ever see one unless you are actively looking for them to collect. Don't handle. The dangerous ones here are the marble cone, tulip cone, geographer cone, striated cone, and textile (or cloth-of-gold) cone.
UXO - This was a big battlefield during WWII, and we find unexploded ordnance all the time. If you see something that looks out of place, don't mess with it, let someone know and we'll call Explosive Ordnance Disposal to take a look at it.
Updated Feb 11, 2008
Luggage and bags: Since we use bicycles almost exclusively, a backpack comes in handy.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Bring sturdy tennis shoes; they're a necessity for walking the reef (if you're so inclined at low tide) and the selection here is very limited. Rain gear is readily available so don't worry about that...you can always put 3 openings in a large garbage bag & use that. Bring favorite sandals or flip flops, cool, lightweight clothing. A hat or cap is highly recommended due to the intense sun.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: There is a pharmacy on island, but I'd recommend bringing an adequate supply of any meds you use regularly. Also high SPF sunscreen. Toiletries are available here, but the selections are very limited, so bring your favorite shampoo, cologne, perfume, etc.
Photo Equipment: Bring it! Lots of photo opportunities here. Camcorders and cameras are allowed and picture taking is OK in most areas.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Swimsuits, DARK SUNGLASSES, dive/snorkeling mask, swim fins, and maybe a shorty wet suit or just a dive skin. The water is warm and you shouldn't need any thermal protection, just something to ward off scrapes & the occasional jellyfish. Bring or you can buy goodie bags for collecting stuff. If you scuba dive, bring regulator and weight belt without any weights; these are available here and the scuba club supplies tanks...you have to be a member, but you can join as a guest for a very nominal fee and get unlimited air.
Written Jan 29, 2008
One thing to do while you are here is to visit some of the lesser-known islands in the atoll.
You can fly free on a space-available basis on the commuter planes (19-pax turboprops) to Roi-Namur for a day or over the weekend. Roi is in a far more natural state than is Kwaj. Here, you can find the infamous coconut crab, real jungles, WWII Japanese bunkers, etc. The underwater stuff is more pristine than Kwaj. There are several Japanese planes you can dive on as well. They are planning to charge $15 each way for this trip to non-workers / non-official business in the near future, but it has not been implemented yet.
Another option, also free, is to take the huge catamaran trip to Meck. It's a 55-minute trip to an island that is visited even less than Roi. There are cvurrently few restrictions on where you can go on Meck, and you could see the launch complex, beachcomb or maybe go snorkeling off the tiny lagoon-side beach.
It is also possible to take a boat to some of the uninhabited islands within the atoll, you just have to go thru the formaility of getting written permission from the Marshallese government representative at the Host Nations office. I think there may be a nominal charge for this, like $5 or so.
Written Jan 29, 2008