Kiritimati: the world's largest atoll
June 24th - July 1st 2015
What is the biggest atoll in the world? The world's biggest atoll is Kiritimati (Christmas Island), located in the middle of Pacific ocean and belonging to Kiribati's Line island group. The island is interesting for the beautiful landscape and it is still unknown to mass tourism: visitors getting here are usually people interested in photography, birding, fly fishing, or to know more about life in such remote country.
A landing in Kiritimati offers spectacular views over the immense central lagoon, formed by a dense network of natural swimming pools, some of which are hyper-saline, due to huge evaporation. With its more than 40 km of extension and an average width of about 20, Christmas Island is the largest atoll in the world. The island is located in Central Pacific Ocean, not far from the equator and very close to the International Date Line (Christmas Island is one of the places in the world to see the "new day" first).
With a rented car, I first drive along the island's main road, from which secondary unpaved paths lead to internal areas and to the lagoon. For those interested in a more in-depth exploration of the island, hiring a 4x4 is suggested, because the dirt roads are not always in good conditions and after some rain they may get muddy.
The internal areas of Kiritimati offer a fantastic and very unusual landscape dominated by vast expanses for salt flats and hyper saline pools, formed by intense evaporation.
Kiritimati photos. Approaching the central lagoon of the atoll, the landscape changes radically and the dry soil is replaced by immense natural pools with colors varying from emerald green to turquoise.
The main vegetation in Kiritimati is obviously made up of the palm trees, while one of the most popular by far the Scaevola taccada
, a shrub that has adapted to live in extremely salty environments.
More photos of Kiritimati landscape. The dense network of natural pools that make up the central lagoon of the atoll, is a perfect place to relax and to swim, often in complete solitude, as Kiritimati is still unknown to mass-tourism. Most of these natural pools are surrounded by a soft coral sand beach, while the water is always warm and perfectly calm. The place is ideal for bathing and swimming, but it is not suitable for snorkeling, because the reef is too far away and visibility in the lagoon is often limited by the fine sands.
Photos of the remains of an old wharf and, on the right, the edge of a natural pool with no beach.
A path leading to central lagoon in Christmas Island.
The landscape of deserted flats, where only a few plant species are able to survive, either because of the very dry soil (not due of few rain, but for the high porosity, draining away all the rainwater quickly), either for the high salt content.
Photos of Kiritimati lagoon and its picturesque natural pools that form a maze of lakes, beaches and streams. Sometimes the emerald green color of the lagoon is so strong, that it is reflected into the clouds, giving to the latter an unusual color cast.
The inner lagoon of Christmas Island, with its beaches and sandbars.
Other images that show instead the ghostly landscape dominated by salt-encrusted ground around the lagoon.
The natural swimming pools within Christmas Island lagoon are very numerous. All are very deserted and you can spend a whole day on one of these beaches, without meeting anybody else.
Moving to the south of the island, the predominant vegetation becomes the Scaevola taccada
Instead, always in the southern part of the island, the natural pools of the lagoon are quite isolated from the Pacific Ocean and therefore, due to evaporation and limited exchange of water, they become hyper-saline and colored thanks to micro-organisms.
The beach along the Pacific ocean side of the island, where swimming is not always recommended due to the waves.
During a trip to Kiritimati you should never miss a boat tour around the northern part of the lagoon, perhaps visiting some deserted island or Paris Point, a promontory more difficult to be reached by car.
The landing at Paris Point (Kiritimati). Renting a boat in Kiritimati is not particularly expensive and starts from 60$ AUD for half day, including boat and driver.
Kiritimati photos. With the right tide, the sun and some clouds in the turquoise blue sky, the landscape in Paris Point is fantastic. Once you arrive by boat, you can enjoy long walks through the endless beach, or swim in the lagoon.
Other Christmas Island photos taken during the boat trip to Paris Point.
In Kiritimati's lagoon, you may swim with many baby sharks.
More photos of Paris Point in Christmas Island, one of the most beautiful tropical paradises in the world.
A paradise named Kiritimati.