Laura, Marshall Islands

Photo: Christopher Michel from San Francisco, USA (marshall islands) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Christopher Michel from San Francisco, USA (marshall islands) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
This winter is never going to end. The snowbanks continue to accumulate. Low-temperature records are being broken everywhere. While cancellations, especially at airports and schools, continue to add up well into March. You need to get as far away from winter as possible.

The Marshall Islands might be far enough away. The country’s 29 atolls are near the Equator, just west of the International Date Line, and halfway between Hawaii and Australia. The 1,200 low-lying islands and islets are made of limestone and sand. They’re filled with palm trees, ringed with white-sand beaches, and surrounded by the bluest water you’ve ever seen. The first time you hear “yokwe”—the “aloha” of the Marshall Islands—you’re enchanted.

The remote islands were peaceful and quiet until the world wars began. Japan occupied them during World War I. After battling the Japanese, the Americans conquered the islands—and then used some of them for nuclear testing—during World War II. Though sovereign for decades, the Marshall Islands still receive subsidies and defense from the U.S. today.

Photo: Stefan Lins from Tokyo, Japan (Laura beach n' tree) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Stefan Lins from Tokyo, Japan (Laura beach n’ tree) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Majuro, the capital and the only city, is surprisingly congested for being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. So you immediately head west toward Laura. Drive along palm-lined Lagoon Road. Pass Majuro Peace Park, which honors the lives lost during the bloody World War II battles. Enjoy the views of the island and the lagoon on the right side of the car; small islets and the vast ocean are on the left side. Then find Laura Beach at the far end of the island. A shallow reef sits just offshore. Logs, softened by the salty waves, litter the beach. Plus, it’s absolutely deserted.

You had planned to continue beyond Majuro to the Arno Atoll less than 10 miles away. You planned to fish for sailfish at Longar Point, snorkel with sharks in the atoll’s three lagoons, and ride a traditional korkor canoe between the uninhabited islets. But the beach, the view, and the solitude of Laura made you forget all about your plans and even the horrible weather back home. It’s far enough.

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