WHY VISIT KIRIBATI
White sandy beaches and crystal-clear lagoon waters characterize the Republic of Kiribati, which is made up of over 30 coral islands scattered across the Pacific. Kiribati is remote, and the tourism industry remains very much in its infancy – all the more reason to visit sooner rather than later.
They may be relatively unknown, but the isles are peppered with swaying coconut palms, swathed in balmy breezes, and waters glistening in every direction. And so it’s hard to feel anything other than intense holiday escapism. While lazing on desolate beaches is a huge draw, Kiribati does have an interesting population of both humans and wildlife.
Capital Tarawa is fast becoming one of the most densely populated areas in the Pacific, while Christmas Island, stretching for almost half the landmass of Kiribati, is carpeted with lakes and ponds great for game fishing, and boasts some of the largest colonies of birds.
Other islands include Phoenix, Line, and Gilbert – during British rule in the 19th and 20th centuries, Kiribati was known as the Gilbert Islands. In World War II, the islands were occupied by Japan, while in the post-war era the US and UK used Christmas island for nuclear weapons tests. The islands finally became independent in 1979.
Despite Kiribati’s colonial history, many of its islands have remained much the same as they’ve ever been. Locals live off breadfruit, fish, and coconuts to this day. The inhabitants of the main island Tarawa also continue to live in raised thatched huts like their ancestors.
You needn’t fear a total separation from civilization, however, bars, cinemas, cars, and the internet are increasingly a part of life in Kiribati. The people aren’t unwelcoming, but you’re more likely to be greeted by the children than adults, who tend to eye visitors cautiously. Once you break the ice, you’ll find a fascinating culture, and plenty of glorious nature to explore.
The tiny nation is only 800 km sq, but if you include the many atolls, this rises to a 3.5 million km square swathe of the Pacific. Better get the swimming costume on.
WHEN TO GO TO KIRIBATI
The best period to visit Kiribati is between March and October.
Maritime equatorial in the central islands of the group. The islands to the north and south are more tropical. The trade winds blow between March and October, making this the most pleasant time of the year, while the highest rainfall (December to May) is concentrated on the northern islands. November to February is more wet and humid than the rest of the year.
Following is a list of typical festivals and celebrations of Kiribati.
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HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH KIRIBATI
Due to the isolation of Kiribati, there is limited access. Currently, the only way to get there is by one of the scheduled air services.
GENERAL INFORMATION ON KIRIBATI
health tips & vaccination: keep up to date with your traditional vaccines, and add those for typhoid and hepatitis A and B. Get treatment for malaria. Do not drink tap water, peel your fruit, and cook your vegetables.
local currency: Australian Dollar
local time zone: GMT +12
electricity: type I (240 V – 50 Hz)
WHAT TO DO IN KIRIBATI
typical food in Kiribati
- the boiled fruit of pandanus (screwpine), sliced thinly and spread with coconut cream.
- Palu sami: coconut cream with sliced onion and curry powder, wrapped in taro leaves and pressure cooked in an earth-oven packed with seaweed. It can be eaten on its own or served with roast pork or chicken.
souvenirs from Kiribati
- baskets, table mats, fans, and cups made from pandanus leaves, coconut leaves, coconut shells and sea shells
- Sea-shell necklaces
- models of Gilbertese canoes and houses
- shark-tooth sword made of polished coconut wood with shark teeth, filed to razor sharpness, lashed to the two edges
SIMPLE GILBERTESE DICTIONARY
Hello: Ko na mauri !
How are you?: Ko uara?
Thank you: Ko rab’a