Kiribati is more than just a beautiful island; it is a network of 33 coral atolls that stretches approximately 4,000 kilometers across the Pacific.
When far-flung idylls are described, Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) may come to mind. With about 6,000 tourists each year, this genuinely inaccessible island nation is one of the world’s tiniest and least visited. This means you may enjoy all aspects of castaway beauty without being harassed by happy hours, all-you-can-eat buffets, or swarms of cruise ship passengers.
Here are amazing facts you should know about Kiribati.
World war II remains in Kiribati
For many, the Japanese occupation of Tarawa during World War II and subsequent capture by US forces in one of the Pacific Theatre’s deadliest battles is the most illustrious incident in the island’s history.
There are various remnants from this era on Tarawa today:
- The largest anti-ship cannons, 8-inch in diameter, are placed on the south (ocean-facing) side of Betio island, near the causeway linking to Bairiki. These cannons, originally produced by the British, these cannons were delivered to the Japanese during their 1904 war with Russia. Following the Japanese takeover of Tarawa in 1942, they stationed them on land to defend the islands from an impending onslaught.
- The Japanese command bunker, a massive facility that is now housed on the grounds of a Mormon church, is another noteworthy item in Betio.
- Despite its substantial reinforced concrete walls, this building was attacked and left unusable during the conflict, and the damage can still be observed today.
- A tribute to the Americans who died in the conflict is outside Betio’s sports facility.
The corresponding Japanese memorial to their deceased is odder, as it is hidden behind a barrier and only accessible by appointment.
Take in the bustle of South Tarawa
The bulk of Kiribati visitors forgoes the city in favor of the archipelago’s unspoiled beaches.
It’s simple to see why: bustling South Tarawa isn’t the most beautiful town globally, and its tourist infrastructure lacks.
However, if you want to immerse yourself in true local life, such as visiting local markets and interacting with locals, this is the place to be.
NOTE: You can’t buy anything on the islands, so bring your sunscreen, insect repellant, and medicine.
The Christmas Islands, commonly known as the Kiritimati Islands, are the Pacific Ocean elevated coral atoll.
The islands have the most coral atolls in the world. These are Kiribati’s largest North Line islands, with the most land area.
Captain James Cook discovered this island on Christmas Eve, giving it its name. The Christmas Islands provide a wide range of activities. It is one of the top places on the planet for bird watching.
Throughout the year, a large number of seabirds come here to mate and nest.
PERSONAL NOTE: To get the most out of your trip, book a hotel together with your bird-watching package.
Scuba diving is an additional option. The pure blue water and pristine environs allow visitors to witness a variety of fish, turtles, and World War II wreckage.
You can even go fishing and capture some of the island’s best bonefish. You can also find some excellent indigenous items at very low prices.
Spending time with locals is a fantastic way to incorporate culture into your Kiribati tour, and operators will make certain that you spend time in a Kiribati hamlet with native guides.
You will most likely visit a traditional community in North Tarawa to hear ancient legends and master traditional techniques like weaving and coconut husking.
Visit the Parliament Building
The Parliament House in Kiribati is a lovely nautical-themed structure worth a visit.
The entire structure and the island it is built on are shaped like a sail and are ringed by a mote. A bright, albeit slightly weathered, map of Kiribati is displayed in front of the main building.
Because the facility is only used three times a year, the guard will let you in if you arrive, allowing you to view the space at your leisure.
TIP: Visit at high tide and while the mote is full.
A pub behind Parliament House gives spectacular sunset views and is open on rare but inexplicable occasions.
It only sells beer and a few fizzy drinks from a refrigerator, but you are welcome to bring your own and sit on the back dock, which is the tip of the sail, with breathtaking views of the horizon and setting sun.
Footprints of giants
Tarawa, Banraeba’s long, thin capital city with a population density comparable to Hong Kong and almost no structures taller than a single story, is simple to understand how people live.
According to local tradition, a series of depressions in the rocks along the stony ocean shore is the footsteps of giants.
You can almost make out the heel and toe marks with a little imagination. It is even more intriguing to converse with the neighborhood kids while they play in the rock pools!
Tarawa’s highest point
One of the most popular sights in South Tarawa is the atoll’s highest peak.
You will not need hiking boots or experience altitude sickness due to the location’s height of only 3 meters above sea level.
Go to a maneaba
Every Kiribati village is organized around a Maneaba, a traditional-style meeting hall.
These open-sided, high-roofed structures are instantly recognizable and are used for weddings, funerals, birthdays, community meetings, and even as impromptu resting locations for visiting guests from other islands.
Consider taking up scuba diving
Scuba diving is a significant lure due to the island’s isolation and absence of industrial fishing, and the variety of underwater species you’ll witness is astonishing. The best diving spots are:
- Christmas Island has some of the best diving in the region, and the Christmas Island Divers Association offers tours to the best spots.
- The diving on Phoenix Island is equally wonderful, although it is restricted. Kukurei Dive, based in Tarawa, organizes visits to Ouba as well.
PERSONAL NOTE: The majority of guesthouses provide snorkeling but avoid South Tarawa’s main lagoon.
The Fanning Islands
Locals call these the Tabuaeran, one of Kiribati’s most popular tourist sites.
This beautiful island is surrounded by various beaches where you can relax and enjoy your vacation in peace.
This location is reachable by boat or seaplane. These islands are part of a National Game and Wildlife Reserve.
Birds can be seen from an isolated section of the beach.
TIP: Bring your camera since you’re sure to get some fantastic shots of Kiribati’s lovely native birds. In addition, there are no shops, restaurants, cafes, or hotels on this island. As a result, if you decide to remain overnight, bring all of your stuff with you and take care of them.
You can also go fishing here; your hotel may arrange a boating trip for you.
Christmas Island is a great place to go birding because it is home to hundreds of different species, including migrating seabirds between June and December.
The Phoenix Island Protected Area is one of the few wildlife preserves that permits visitors to get up close and personal with wildlife by hiring a guide.
Large frigate birds, masked boobies, black noddies, and numerous tern species are all common on Kiribati (including fairies).
You can take a boat to one of the islets or drive to the most remote locations. Trips can be arranged through the Captain Cook Hotel and all other hotels on Christmas Island.
Try your hand at game fishing
Fishing is a popular sport and a source of income for the locals, who rely primarily on marine food and coconuts.
Kiribati Horizons can organize island visits and lagoon and open-water game fishing.
The lagoons of Ambo and Ouba and the Dai Nippon Causeway are ideal for tuna and marlin fishing, as well as good bonefishing.
However, the best fishing may be found off the beaches of the Christmas and Phoenix Islands.
Sleep out in the open
Traditional I-Kiribati dwellings are open-sided wooden huts, similar to those seen in Samoa, and there are a few lodges in North Tarawa and Abaiang where you can sleep in this humble domicile while being rocked to sleep by the sound of the surf.
Two of the most commonly recommended options are:
- Tabon Te Keekee, which is direct across the canal from Buota Island.
- Tabuki Retreat also contains a few concrete huts but is only accessible by boat or a 1.5-hour journey via the various island roads.
Both hotels have all-inclusive packages and you may also stop for lunch while wandering through North Tarawa.
PERSONAL NOTE: No other eating alternatives are nearby.
Go whale watching
Kiribati is a popular whale-watching site between December and April since minks, killer whales, and dolphins are frequently observed.
NOTE: The option to rent boats “with a skipper” is available for multi-day excursions.
Scuba diving and snorkeling
Kiribati, like its Micronesian neighbors, is a popular water-based activity destination.
Divers, snorkelers, and canoeists will admire North Tarawa’s stunning turquoise lagoon, and anglers will not be disappointed.
Kiritimati is home to shoals of marlin, wahoo, barracuda, and massive tuna, as well as vast saltwater flats.
NOTE: Because exposing swimwear is prohibited by law, pack appropriately.
Abaiang, a two-hour boat journey from Tarawa or a twenty-minute flight with Air Kiribati, is a step up from North Tarawa in solitude, remoteness, and calm.
This small atoll island north of Tarawa has all of the hallmarks of a Pacific island, including:
- fluffy white sand beaches
- little pollution
- swaying palm palms
- crystal clear waters
TIP: At a low price, simple housing in the shape of open-air huts is provided.
Surf the waves
Kiribati is well-known among surfers as a dependable wave destination, with several surfable breaks.
They are ready to please any surfer from June to April with Southeast, Southwest, and Northwest swells.
The best part is that you’ll most likely be alone, as the islands see few visitors and those who do come for the fishing.
Bring all of your gear and make arrangements with Christmas Island Surf.
Kiribati is one of the world’s fastest-rising tourism attractions. It is a group of thirty-two atolls known for their lovely beaches and breathtaking surroundings.
The entire island is loaded with breathtaking scenery and exciting activities.