I found myself in the middle of the Pacific, on the atoll island of Tarawa in the Republic of Kiribati. Comprised of 32 atolls, reefs and raised islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. With a population of 110, 0000 people, half living in the largest atoll of Tarawa.
I had to travel to Kiribati via Fiji, flying 4 hours north with Fiji Airways.
The island is long, filled with palm trees and wraps around a large blue lagoon. With the temperature being hot and with high humidity, making It a perfect place for a swim.
Unfortunately you can't swim, due to the high pollution levels. The locals swim in the blue waters but as a tourist, I was strong suggested not to. Tourism in Kiribati is not common with most people traveling to the atoll islands for aid work or business due to climate change affecting the islands dramatically.
I was visiting for work but had a few hours to explore the island with my camera and hang out with the locals, visit the beach and take a local bus (van) around the neighbourhoods.
The people are so friendly but the infrastructure on the island is basic, most people living in shacks and makeshift homes. Kiribati houses are simple with only a few homes made from brick or concrete and building materials scarce.
Kiribati food stores are just tin sheds with fresh vegetables and meat limited but expensive. Though the fresh fish is spectacular. It’s truly a developing nation but what this place lacks in infrastructure, it truly makes up for with its friendly atmosphere of its people.
Tarawa is not a destination if you’re looking for a holiday by the pool with a cocktail in hand. But, if your more of an adventurous person and looking for a place less travelled, then Tarawa is an interesting place to visit. The beaches north of the island offer some secluded swimming spots and surf without the issue of pollution.
Tarawa accommodation is simple but comfortable, I stayed at Fema Lodge. The room had air conditioning and I felt safe with the friendly reception ladies looking after me. There is a simple but tasty restaurant downstairs and you can hire a car at reception or catch the local bus for $1 from the road out front.
The currency in Kiribati is Australian dollars (AUD). Bring small notes ($5 & $10) since most stores only carry limited cash and can’t handle large notes. ATM’s are available on the islands but I recommend to bring some cash as well.