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Kiribati

KIRIBATI TRAVEL GUIDE

Kiribati, officially the Republic of Kiribati, is a country in the central Pacific Ocean. The permanent population is just over 130,000, more than half of whom live on Tarawa Atoll. 


Kiribati is not your average, regular country, it's a bunch of 34 coral atolls popping up from the ocean at random distances; some near, some far away. The atolls sit bang over the equator and the territorial waters are enormous, almost the size of Argentina and Chile combined! 


The three main internal groups on the islands are the Gilbert, Line (Northern and Southern) and the Phoenix Islands. There's very little dry land, the atolls are low lying (the highest point in 87m) and there is little or no vegetation on the islands. But the islands are stunning. They have the biggest coral atolls in the world and almost every island has a pristine blue water lagoon.

 

Kiribati is most emphatically not another Tahiti, Hawaii, etc. where you can go to relax and have nothing to worry about. It has few visitors, and they have to be prepared to "rough it." South Tarawa is one of the most densely populated, severely poverty-stricken places in the world. Other islands have far fewer people, but getting to them can be difficult, and conditions are even more primitive. That said, there aren't many countries where people are more friendly.

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  • Capital: Tarawa

  • Currency: Australian dollar (A$) as its official currency, alongside its own Kiribati dollar

  • Area: 811 km²

  • Population: 131,000 (2022)

  • Language: The people of Kiribati speak Gilbertese (also known as Kiribatese or Ikiribati), an Oceanic language. English is the other official language, but is not used very often outside the island capital of South Tarawa. It is more likely that some English is mixed in its use with Gilbertese

  • Religion:  The predominant religion is Christianity, with the majority being Roman Catholic, followed by the Kiribati Uniting Church and other Christian denominations. A small percentage of the population practices the Bahá'í Faith.

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BEST TIME TO VISIT KIRIBATI

The best time to visit Kiribati depends on what you're looking for in a vacation. The country has a tropical climate, with temperatures that are warm year-round. The most pleasant weather is typically between November and April, during the dry season. This is also the best time for swimming, snorkeling, and diving, as the waters are clearer and calmer. The wet season runs from May to October, during which time the islands can receive quite a bit of rainfall. This is also the time when tropical storms and typhoons are more likely to occur. The weather can be unpredictable, so it's best to check the forecast and be prepared for changing conditions.

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KIRIBATI WEATHER SYNOPSIS

Kiribati falls under the dry maritime climate type, although there are variations between and within its island groups, especially in precipitation levels. Annual rainfall varies between 1,000-3,000 mm per year across the country, with the northern parts of the Gilbert and Line groups typically receiving more rain than the Phoenix group. The country is subject to the effects of El Niño, which typically brings heavy rain to Kiribati, and La Niña, which coincides with drought periods for Kiribati. Rainfall is highest between March and May, and lowest between August and October. There is almost no seasonal variation in temperature, with average monthly temperatures falling between 27°C and 28°C during every month of the year.

Kiribati

SEASONS AT A GLANCE

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

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BEST TIME FOR

SNOW SPORT IN KIRIBATI

Kiribati, with its warm tropical climate and geographical location, does not have any natural snow for winter sports.

HIKING & CYCLING IN KIRIBATI

The best time for outdoor activities in Italy is from June to December. March to May just too hot and January to May can also be rainy. While it may not be renowned for mountainous trails, the islands offer tranquil walks along beaches and through small villages. For those looking to explore, there are popular trails that can be found with detailed maps and reviews from fellow hikers

BEACH OPTIONS IN KIRIBATI

Although the temperatures don't vary much, if you want sunny beach days in Kiribati, the best time to go is between May and December. January to March are usually the wetter months, although it still only rains about half the time. Among the most notable beaches in Kiribati is the Bathing Lagoon on Kiritimati atoll, known for its calm waters and almost waveless conditions, making it perfect for a relaxing swim. Another gem is the beach near the village of Poland on Kiritimati island, which offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance with nearby military monuments. For those seeking tranquility, the Boating Lagoon offers expansive inner lagoon beaches with a deserted landscape, ideal for a serene getaway.

SURFING IN KIRIBATI

Albeit they little challenging to reach, you will find big and long breaks off Fanning and Kiritimati islands in Kiribati. 


Fanning (Tabuaeran) Island has almost year round consistent swell with the best known breaks being ‘English Harbour’ in the South with strong and consistent March to June and ‘Walers’ in the North with strong consistent swell from October to March. Kiritimati (Christmas Island) is host to a golden five kilometre stretch of points, reefs and channels with roughly 24 surfable waves from October through to March.

KITESURF IN KIRIBATI

Kiribati is such a remote destination that you might not find anyone else there, but from November to March you will find about half the days have winds suitable for kiting on Christmas Island. 


While there are no kite schools listed currently, the islands' natural conditions are conducive for the sport. Planning a trip during the windy season and checking local resources for safety and regulations is advisable.

BEST TIME FOR

Kiribati, with its warm tropical climate and geographical location, does not have any natural snow for winter sports.

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TRAVEL SAFETY IN KIRIBATI

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HEALTH RISKS IN KIRIBATI

Be aware of possible health risks in 

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Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.

Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.

KIRIBATI TRAVEL COSTS

The cost of traveling to Kiribati can vary depending on a number of factors, including the time of year you plan to visit, the length of your stay, and your travel itinerary. Some of the biggest expenses you'll incur when traveling to Kiribati include airfare, accommodations, and transportation.

  • Airfare: Airfare to Kiribati can be expensive, as there are only a few flights to the country each week. Expect to pay several thousand dollars for a round-trip ticket from the United States or Europe. Prices will depend on where you depart and how far in advance you book.

  • Accommodations: There are a variety of accommodations available in Kiribati, including guesthouses, hotels, and resorts. Prices vary depending on the type of accommodation and the level of luxury. You can find budget-friendly options starting around $20 per night for basic accommodation and up to $200 per night for luxury resorts.

  • Transportation: Transportation within Kiribati can be limited, so you may have to use a combination of boats and planes to get around. Prices for inter-island transportation can be expensive. A flight from Tarawa to Kiritimati for example can cost around $350.

  • Food: Food can be relatively inexpensive in Kiribati, with many local eateries serving up traditional meals for a few dollars. At the same time, imported products such as meat and vegetables can be expensive.

  • Other expenses: You may need to pay additional fees for activities such as snorkeling, diving, and fishing, which are popular in Kiribati. The average budget for a trip to Kiribati is around $100-$150 per day, but this can vary depending on how you choose to travel and what activities you want to do.

Here is a sample cost breakdown for a one-week trip to Kiribati:

  • Airfare: $2,000

  • Accommodations: $700 (for 7 nights in a budget guesthouse)

  • Transportation: $200 (for inter-island flights and local transportation)

  • Food: $300 (for 7 days of meals)

  • Activities: $200 (for snorkeling and other excursions)

Total cost: $3,300

Cost & Spending

KIRIBATI TRAVEL TIPS

Here are a few travel tips for Kiribati that may help you plan your trip:

  • Plan ahead: Since flights to Kiribati are limited, it's a good idea to plan your trip well in advance to secure your seat. Make sure to book your accommodations and any activities you want to do ahead of time as well.

  • Be prepared for weather changes: The weather in Kiribati can be unpredictable, so it's important to pack clothing and gear that will keep you warm and dry in case of rain. Make sure to bring a good waterproof jacket, rain pants, and closed-toe shoes.

  • Cash is king: Credit and debit cards are not widely accepted in Kiribati, so be sure to bring enough cash to cover your expenses. It's best to carry a mix of both Australian dollars and Kiribati dollars, as some places may only accept one or the other.

  • Respect cultural customs: Kiribati is a culturally rich country and it's important to be respectful of local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, avoid showing too much skin, and always ask permission before taking photos.

  • Enjoy the nature: The island nation have a lot to offer, from the beautiful beaches, reefs, and wildlife to the friendly people and unique cultural experiences. Try to explore as much as you can, it's the best way to get to know the islands and the local culture.

  • Be flexible: Things may not always go according to plan, so it's important to be flexible and go with the flow. Be prepared for delays and changes to your itinerary and enjoy the unexpected experiences.

  • Essentials for packing: Be mindful of your weight and space, bring enough medication, and also mosquito repellent, sunblock and first aid, items that could be hard to find on the islands.

Travel Tips

SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF KIRIBATI

Kiribati is a group of islands located in the Pacific Ocean, composed of three main island groups:

  • Gilbert Islands: This group of islands includes the capital, Tarawa, and many other populated islands, such as Abaiang and Maiana. These islands are known for their beaches, snorkeling, and diving opportunities, as well as for their rich cultural heritage. Visitors can explore traditional I-Kiribati villages, go fishing, and witness the unique 'te mwaneaba' meeting houses.

  • Line Islands: These islands are more remote, and less visited. They are known for their beautiful coral reefs, as well as for their rich marine life, including giant clams and sea turtles. The most well-known island in this group is Kiritimati, which is home to Christmas Island.

  • Phoenix Islands: The Phoenix Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and are known for their marine biodiversity and beautiful coral reefs. These islands are relatively undeveloped and are a great destination for diving and ecotourism.

Regardless of which island you choose to visit, you can expect to find breathtaking scenery, crystal-clear waters, and an abundance of marine life. Just keep in mind that some islands are more developed than others, and therefore may offer more in terms of amenities and activities. Also, many of the islands are uninhabited, so the tourism infrastructure on some of them might be limited.

Highlights
What To See & Do
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WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN KIRIBATI

There are many things to see and do when visiting Kiribati, depending on your interests. Here are a few highlights to consider:

  • Snorkeling and diving: Kiribati is home to some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. With clear, warm waters and an abundance of marine life, it's a great destination for snorkeling and diving.

  • Beachcombing: Kiribati's beaches are known for their white sand and crystal-clear waters. Take a stroll on the beach, swim or lay down and enjoy the sun.

  • Culture and history: Kiribati is a culturally rich country, and visitors can learn about the local customs and traditions by visiting traditional villages, seeing the meeting houses, or by participating in a 'te mwaneaba' meeting.

  • Fishing: Kiribati is a great destination for fishing, visitors can go deep-sea fishing and explore the beautiful waters around the islands.

  • Birdwatching: The islands are home to a variety of bird species, such as frigatebirds, boobies and terns, and visitors can explore the islands and watch the many species of birds that inhabit the islands.

  • Visit Christmas Island: The Line islands offer Christmas Island, the island is known for its Christmas Island Red Crab, a unique wildlife that is worth to visit.

  • Exploring Phoenix Islands: The Phoenix Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are known for their marine biodiversity and beautiful coral reefs. These islands are relatively undeveloped and are a great destination for diving and ecotourism.


SUGGESTED ITINERARY FOR VISITING KIRIBATI

Day 1-2: Arrival in Tarawa

Begin your journey on the atoll of Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati. Spend your first day acclimatizing to the laid-back island lifestyle and exploring South Tarawa. Visit historic World War II sites and learn about one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific. Don't miss the chance to interact with the friendly locals and sample traditional Kiribati cuisine.


Day 3-4: Cultural Immersion in the Gilbert Islands

Take an internal flight or ferry to the Gilbert Islands, where you can immerse yourself in the local culture. Participate in community activities, witness traditional dance performances, and learn about the local crafts. The Gilbert Islands offer a glimpse into the authentic Kiribati way of life, where community and family are paramount.


Day 5-6: Wildlife and Conservation on the Phoenix Islands

As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts. Although access is limited to protect the ecosystem, you can arrange a visit to observe the diverse marine life and untouched coral reefs. This is a rare opportunity to witness conservation efforts in one of the world's largest marine reserves.


Day 7: Relaxation on Kiritimati Island

Conclude your trip on Kiritimati Island, also known as Christmas Island. Renowned for its world-class fishing opportunities, it's the perfect place to unwind. Whether you're interested in game or bone fishing, or simply want to relax on the pristine beaches, Kiritimati offers a peaceful retreat to reflect on your Kiribati adventure.


Before planning your trip, it's essential to consider the environmental impact and the ongoing challenges faced by Kiribati due to climate change. Travel responsibly and embrace the opportunity to learn from this unique island nation.


For more detailed information and to plan your visit, check out the official tourism websites of Kiribati:

https://www.kiribatitourism.gov.ki/

https://visitkiribati.travel/

Kiribati
What To Eat

WHAT TO EAT IN KIRIBATI

WHAT TO EAT IN KIRIBATI

When visiting Kiribati, you can expect to find a mix of traditional Kiribati cuisine and international cuisine. Here are a few local foods that you may want to try:

  • Sashimi: Fresh raw fish is a staple food in Kiribati and is often served as sashimi, which is thinly sliced raw fish.

  • Rice and seafood: Rice is a staple food in Kiribati, and it's often served with seafood. Fish, octopus and crab are commonly used in local dishes.

  • Uumu: is a traditional Kiribati dish made from taro leaves, coconut milk, and fish. The ingredients are wrapped in banana leaves and steamed to create a flavorful and healthy dish.

  • Coconut Milk: is a key ingredient in many traditional I-Kiribati dishes, is used to make the famous Kiribati's coconut curry, it can be made with different types of seafood, vegetables and meat

  • Takihau: Is a traditional desert made from grated coconut and brown sugar and can be served with pandanus leaf.

You will also find a good selection of international food, such as Chinese, Indian, and Western dishes in the main cities, although they might be more expensive than the traditional ones.

 

Keep in mind that availability of certain foods may vary depending on the location and season, and some ingredients might be hard to find on the islands. Also, be mindful of local customs and etiquette, and always ask before taking photos of food or food preparation.

LGBTQ IN KIRIBATI

Kiribati

WHERE TO STAY IN KIRIBATI

For a first-time visit to Kiribati, it's important to note that the country is spread across several atolls and islands, each offering its own unique charm and attractions. However, the main gateway to Kiribati is Tarawa, the capital city. Here's why you should consider staying in Tarawa and some accommodation options:


Where to stay in Tarawa:

Tarawa is the economic and political center of Kiribati, offering a glimpse into the daily life of the locals, as well as historical and cultural attractions. Explore attractions like the Kiribati National Library and Archives, Bairiki Square, and the WWII Battle of Tarawa sites.

  • Budget: Mary's Motel offers affordable accommodations with basic amenities and a central location in Bairiki.

  • Mid-range: Fema Lodge provides comfortable rooms and modern facilities with a convenient location in Betio.

  • Luxury: There are limited luxury accommodation options in Tarawa, but you can find upscale amenities at places like the Utirerei Hotel in Bairiki.

Tip: Accommodation options in Tarawa are limited, so it's advisable to book well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Additionally, consider exploring the outer islands for a more remote and tranquil experience, but be prepared for fewer accommodation choices and limited facilities.


Another option to consider, especially if you're interested in diving and ecotourism, is the Phoenix Islands. These islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are known for their marine biodiversity and beautiful coral reefs. Some of the Phoenix Islands are uninhabited, but you can find a few exclusive resorts on a couple of the islands and can organize a tour to visit them. Accommodations on these islands are extremely limited, with options mainly consisting of research stations or expedition cruises.


Where to stay on Nikumaroro Island:

  • Accommodations are primarily limited to research stations or campsites organized by expedition companies offering diving and research-focused trips.

  • Some expedition cruises may include stays on Nikumaroro Island as part of their itinerary, providing an opportunity to explore the island's unique history and ecosystem.


Where to stay on Kanton Island:

  • Similar to Nikumaroro, accommodations on Kanton Island are limited to research stations or campsites organized by expedition companies.

  • Expedition cruises may also include visits to Kanton Island, allowing travelers to experience its remote beauty and pristine environment.


Finally, for those who want to visit Christmas Island, the Line Islands, would be a good option. The island is known for its Christmas Island Red Crab, a unique wildlife that is worth visiting. The Line Islands include islands such as Kiritimati (Christmas Island) and Tabuaeran (Fanning Island), known for their stunning beaches, coral reefs, and rich marine life. Accommodations on these islands are generally limited to guesthouses, homestays, or eco-lodges, offering a more authentic and intimate experience with nature.


Where to stay on Kiritimati Island:

  • Budget: Mwana House offers budget-friendly accommodations with simple rooms and a beachfront location.

  • Mid-range: The Villages at Ikari House provides comfortable bungalows with modern amenities and access to snorkeling and diving activities.

  • Luxury: There are limited luxury options on Kiritimati Island, but you can find upscale amenities and personalized service at places like the Captain Cook Hotel.

For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.

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