Kiribati — Attractions
Kiribati’s heart is it’s beaches, but the islands of South Tarawa are also known for their history, retaining rusted Japanese guns from WWII and their semi-impressive buildings in the capital. People come all this way mainly for the ecology of the islands and the ecclectic wildlife. Main islands have airports and boat charters.
South Tarawa (consisting of several islets) is the capital of Kiribati, located on an atoll of the same name. Most of the action takes place on the islets of Betio and nearby Bairiki and Bonriki, which lie southwest and are quite densely populated. They are hot and noisy and a launching pad for visits to the other islands. Sights in South Tarawa include the Parliament building, President’s Office and the WWII guns used during the Battle of Tarawa along the beaches. You can get here via Bonriki International Airport located east of Tarawa.
Address: South Tarawa, Gilbert Islands
Known as Kiritimati Island in the local tongue (which translates to the same thing), Christmas Island is the largest landmass of the archipelago and the world’s largest coral atoll. It is all wildlife sanctuary, strewn with ponds and animals. Visitors mainly come for the scuba diving (shipwrecks and coral) and fishing, as well as to view huge colonies of birds. Cruises pull in at London, the main settlement and port. There’s also an airport on the island.
Address: Christmas Island, ‘Northern’ Line Islands
The Line Islands is the largest group in the chain and part of the greater Line Islands that also incorporate some US islands. Christmas Island resides here and is the main landmass of the archipelago. When tourists come, they usually head to Christmas Island first for its tropical beaches, amazing lagoons and salt flats. There’s an airport with regular flights to Honolulu. Teraina (Washington) and Tabuaeran (Fanning) are also popular destinations.
Address: Line Islands, Eastern Kiribati
Though the title would suggest remoteness—and they are—the Outer Islands are actually part of the main Gilbert chain, so they are closer to Tarawa than the Phoenix or Line Islands. However, for all intensive purposes, they are hardly developed, with only basic guesthouses and small airstrips. Communication with the outside world is a hassle, but this appeals to most visitors as it allows them to completely disconnect and enjoy the idyllic beaches and traditional culture of the locals.
Address: ‘Outer’ Gilbert Islands
Phoenix Island Marine Protected Area
The Phoenix Islands are comprised of fine beaches and amazing landscapes strewn with blue lagoons in Kiribati. People come here mainly to spy on the extensive bird populations, while beneath the waves is one of the most incredible sights anywhere on earth; masses of coral including lettuce coral. However, these islands are tougher to visit and scuba diving is restricted (typically only allowed via special tours and scientific expeditions).
Address: Phoenix Islands
Ambo Lagoon Club
The Lagoon Club on Ambo Island in South Tarawa is one of the top options for fun in the Gilbert group, especially if you have kids. There are all sorts of water-based activities, including a swimming pool and lagoon along with a meeting house and bar.