° ° °
KIRIBATI: WHERE IS AND SAMPLE TRAVEL ITINERARY
KIRIBATI TRAVEL GUIDE, USEFUL INFO AND TRAVEL TIPS
WHY GO TO KIRIBATI? WHAT TO SEE IN KIRIBATI?
Why go to Kiribati? This is probably the first question asked by people and made even by the local inhabitants, often surprised to see a tourist around their islands for three full weeks. So, what are actually the main reasons to go to Kiribati, instead of choosing more famous tropical paradises like French Polynesia or Fiji Islands? My curiosity about this unusual country started while "playing" with Google Earth, watching such small remote atolls in the middle Pacific ocean (Kiritimati is really in the middle of nothing, no less than 5000 kilometers from any "real" land) and asking to myself how the life could be there: what are the challenges faced daily by local people? How they move around, how they build their houses and how their economy works? The total surface of Kiribati is as big as that of Australia, however, the 99.97% of such "territory" is made of just water. Scattered onto an area of Pacific ocean that covers three time zones, Kiribati has three archipelagos as well: the Line islands (easternmost), the Phoenix islands (center) and the Gilbert islands (westernmost), each including a number of small atolls, sometimes inhabited. Seen from the air, the atolls resemble in most cases an oval strip of islands exposing one side onto a turquoise lagoon, and one side onto open waters. The landscapes is often dominated by paradisaical beaches in most cases deserted, sometimes alternated with barren expanses of salty land burned by hyper-evaporation, while the vegetation is represented by mangroves growing among tidal areas and huge palm trees living in the inner parts of the islands. A stroll among traditional villages lets to appreciate a simple kind life, with smiling people always very welcoming: the houses are mainly built with wood and twisted leaves, often without real walls, as in Kiribati it's never cold and you have to make a shelter only because of rain. As a diversion, for fans of World War II, Tarawa was the place for an important battle and among the beaches of Betio, visitors will see lot of historical artifacts.
HOW TO GET TO KIRIBATI?
Because of the isolation and for the low volume of traffic, you may probably wonder how to get to Kiribati, especially if you have limited time available and couldn't afford very long trips. First of all, it is necessary to say that Kiribati is not a easy destination if you have little time for your holidays: not only the journey may require to overnight somewhere halfway, but also moving in the country is usually not fast or simple. The main entry points for Kiribati, getting international flights, are Kiritimati for the Line Islands group and Tarawa for the Gilbert Islands group. If you would like to get to Christmas Island (Kiritimati), the island is served only by a weekly flight provided by Fiji Airways from Nadi (Fiji islands) and from Honolulu (Hawaii), with a flight time respectively of 4.5 and 3 hours. As the flight is available only one time per week, it is certainly a good idea to reach the gateway airport (either Nadi or Honolulu) at least one day before, to ensure a sufficient buffer for possible delays. Instead, if you would like to get to Tarawa, the island is served by two or three flights per week from Nadi (Fiji), yet provided by Fiji Airways (the flight time is about three hours): also in this case, getting to Nadi the day before is a good idea, and quite often the only choice due to the schedule usually not allowing same day connections. Flights to Tarawa are also seasonally provided by Nauru Airlines, usually once per week, from Nadi via Nauru and Majuro (Marshall Islands). Although belonging to the same country, moving between Kiritimati and Tarawa is challenging and may require one or more nights in Nadi, Fiji, as no direct (or same day) flights are provided between the 3200 kilometers distant islands (anyway, things change quite often, so it's always a good idea to check updated information with a travel agent or on-line).
HOW TO MOVE AROUND IN KIRIBATI?
As already said, Kiribati is a country with a huge extension, where the distances are long and challenged by isolation, therefore, if you want to visit more Kiribati islands, first make sure that you have sufficient time for your holiday, as the schedule is rarely optimized to ensure same day connections. If during your holiday to Kiribati you would like visit both Gilbert and Line Islands, you should know that there are no regional flights between them, but the islands are connected only by international flights through Nadi, requiring to stay at least one night in Fiji. This may look strange for two places belonging to the same country, but moving through Kiribati is part of the experience and, if you are open-minded, part of the fun! Travel between Gilbert Islands, at least among the most densely populated, is provided by the local airline Air Kiribati, through small prop planes usually having less than 20 seats. Most of the atolls are connected to Tarawa with dual or tri weekly flights, while Abaiang atoll has also a kind of fast boat that cover the distance from Tarawa in less than two hours. For transportation on the islands, Tarawa and Kiritimati offer the possibility to rent a car (driving is on the left) while in the less populated islands you can always count on someone renting a scooter or a bicycle (on Abemama there is a bus service, basically a truck where you travel in the back, in connection with Air Kiribati flights). Hiring a boat can be rather useful to visit both inhabited and deserted islands scattered in the lagoons.
WHAT IS THE BEST SEASON TO GO TO KIRIBATI?
As Kiribati is mainly a beach destination and you will want to stay outside for as long as possible, you are probably wondering what is the best time to visit Kiribati, ensuring better weather. First of all, it must be noted that in Kiribati there isn't a totally dry period, but some rain may be a possibility during every month of the year. However, if you would like get highest chances for sunny weather in Kiribati, the best season to go is probably between May and September, while November to March are usually the wettest months. The temperature in Kiribati is always around 25-32 degrees Celsius, you don't need a sweater in Kiribati, neither "just in case".
HOW IS THE SNORKELING IN KIRIBATI?
KIRIBATI TRAVELOGUE AND PHOTOS ISLAND BY ISLAND
|<<-- GO Isolated by at least 5000 km of water in all directions, Kiritimati (Christmas Island) belongs to the Line islands group of Kiribati and offers authentic experiences among tiny villages and beautiful landscapes.|
|<<-- GO With its immense lagoon, Kiritimati is the largest atoll in the world and also the most isolated. It offers stunning tropical scenery and fantastic deserted beaches all around an emerald green turquoise blue sea.|
|<<-- GO Kiribati's Line islands are scattered in a vast area of the central Pacific, but some are just a short boat ride from Kiritimati. Declared as National Park, these islands offer unique opportunities to observe thousands of terns, tropic birds and other rare birds.|
|<<-- GO South Tarawa atoll, belonging to Gilbert Islands group, is the home to Kiribati capital and to the majority of the country population, which is distributed between the towns of Betio, Bonriki, Bairiki and other smaller towns.|
|<<-- GO Tarawa is well known for one of the battles that have decided the course of World War II: The Battle of Tarawa, between Japan (who had occupied Gilbert Islands for strategic reasons) and America. A series of findings testify the historical events that took place in 1943.|
|<<-- GO The most remote Gilbert Islands, far away from the capital in Tarawa, offer a unique travel experience, where fantastic tropical landscapes merge with an authentic culture and traditional villages.|
|<<-- GO If Abemama is already perceived as a remote and isolated place, you should know that there is a community which has chosen to live on a further smaller island off Abemama, like an "island inside an island" surrounded by a spectacular lagoon.|
|<<-- GO If to your trip to Kiribati you would like to add more beach life, the islet of Teirio in Abaiang atoll, may be a great choice. Beautiful beach, great sea and possible day trips to deserted islands, as well as to remote villages.|
|<<-- GO Away from the hustle and bustle of South Tarawa, the northern part of the atoll offers good sea, kilometric beaches and traditional villages where you can learn something more about the culture of Kiribati and the traditions of its inhabitants.|