Travel to South Tarawa among towns and beautiful landscapes
July 3, 4th 2015
Are you looking for travel info about Tarawa? South Tarawa has an international airport and is one of the main gateways into Kiribati, the main base to get to other remote islands. About an half of Kiribati population live in South Tarawa, and the island is particularly interesting for beautiful landscapes, to know more about life in Kiribati and for history.
How to get to Tarawa?
If you would like to get to Gilbert Islands, the main entry point is South Tarawa, served by flights onto Nadi (Fiji) and Majuro (Marshall Islands). The flight onto Nadi is offered by Fiji Airways, takes around 3 hours and is available between 2 and 3 times per week, while the flight onto Majuro (linking also Nauru Island, Brisbane and Kosrae) is offered by Our Airline (Air Nauru) usually once per week and takes a little more than one hour. In the pictures, a Fiji Airways B737-800 overflying a remote Gilbert Islands atoll, before approaching Tarawa.
Pictures of Tarawa airport, the only airport's terminal and Fiji Airways Boeing 737-800 just arrived from Nadi (Fiji).
In South Tarawa there is a main road that runs all the way along the narrow atoll, connecting the main and most populated cities with the international airport.
Pictures of Tarawa.
The atoll of South Tarawa is actually made of several islands separated by natural channels that ensure the exchange of water between open ocean and inner lagoon. The need to move between the islands without have to use a boat, has been resolved with bridges and causeways. In these pictures, the road connecting Betio island to the rest of Tarawa atoll, built in 1985 (before this year, it was necessary to use a ferry to move from and to the island: although this solution has represented a huge improvement for transportation needs, it caused a decrease in fish population in the lagoon, due to negative impact with water exchange between open sea and lagoon).
Picture of another causeway used to connect two islands. In this case, it can be only traveled on foot or bike.
Although South Tarawa is the most populated place of Kiribati, where every available space is used for buildings and facilities, beautiful tropical landscapes are not missing. However, because of some pollution, South Tarawa is not the ideal place for a beach holiday (in this case, it's much better to choose North Tarawa or any other remote island among Gilbert, Phoenix and Line Islands). Yet, the place shouldn't miss from your travel itinerary to Kiribati, since South Tarawa is still interesting for history and to know more about local culture.
This is in fact what you may see on the beaches too close to highly populated towns in Kiribati, like Betio.
In South Tarawa there are several large towns, but the space between them is still used for smaller villages with traditional buildings. As in Kiribati the climate is always warm, it is not necessary to isolate the buildings from excessive heat or cold, therefore as building material, it is enough to use just wood and twisted leaves.
In these photos, you can see traditional Kiribati buildings. The roof is made by various layers of Pandanus leaves, a very common tree in Kiribati, and if well done, it can guarantee perfect impermeability for many years. The walls, when present, are instead made of just thin mats yet made by twisted leaves.
Almost all families have pigs and chickens, the most common type of meat on the islands (in addition of course to fish).
Instead, in this building used as a kitchen, a woman is working some coconut.
The landscape in South Tarawa around the main port of Betio, where the color of tropical waters contrasts with a kind of ships cemetery, which sees many boats, even large, abandoned.
The port of Betio is one of the favorite places by fishermen, who often can be found at work lined up along the quay.
The Betio cemetery consists of a small garden with palm trees, under which the tombs are located.
Tarawa photos. During low tide, it is not uncommon to see locals who go walking in the lagoon, to collect fish stuck in the pools or looking for shells.
During low tide the lagoon landscape of South Tarawa atoll changes completely, showing a vast expanse of sand with little water, up to to the horizon. Mangrove trees are very important in this kind of environment, as they contract the erosion from sea; for this reason, they are sometimes artificially planted to increase the natural population already present.
More photos of Tarawa showing the landscape at low tide.
As can be seen in the photos made from the plane, Tarawa atoll consists essentially of a long strip of coral whose width seldom exceed one kilometer. However, at low tide, the land increases a lot and yet again locals have the opportunity to look for shells and fish that remain trapped into small pools.
This photo, taken from a plane that just took off from Tarawa, shows the fish traps built along the outer reef of the atoll. Essentially, with low tide, the fish should remain trapped inside the large heart-shaped structure.
Where to stay in Tarawa?
In Tarawa you will not find luxury resort for tourists, but hotels and motels with facilities ranging from basic to standard. In these photos, Betio Lodge, an hotel conveniently located in Betio (less than one how drive from airport) not far from most of the attractions of South Tarawa.
In Tarawa, like everywhere in Kiribati, there aren't many tourists walking around, therefore local people are always very curious and very happy to meet people coming from other countries.