Kiribati, an island republic in the Central Pacific, comprises 33 coral atolls and isles stretching along the equator. With lagoons and white-sand beaches, many of its islands are uninhabited, offering a remote setting for fishing, diving and bird-watching. The crowded capital, South Tarawa, made up of small islets, retains remnants of WWII battles fought on its shores, and is known for folk dancing and handicrafts.Kiribati Capital: South TarawaKiribati Capital and largest city: TarawaKiribati Population: 114,395Kiribati Official languages: English, KiribatiKiribati Destinations: Tarawa, Kiritimati, Tabuaeran, Bairiki, Betio
Tarawa, located in the Gilberts Group is the capital of Kiribati. It is shaped like a boomerang, and is a chain of interconnecting islets, linked by causeways or bridges, sometimes requiring a canoe or wading to reach the other side. South Tarawa is home to the largest concentration of the population, the seat of government and commercial centres; whereas North Tarawa maintains a more peaceful traditional lifestyle, with I-Kiribati living in bwias and small villages and weaving pandanus mats or harvesting coconuts as part of their daily life. There is no road in parts of North Tarawa.
Bikenibeu hosts a cultural centre showcasing Kiribati history and artifacts, while other areas of Tarawa bear testament to one of the most intense battles of World War II with many war relics still evident.
Cultural tours, war tours, dance floorshows, lagoon sailing and reef fishing are all available in Tarawa.
Kiritimati, in the Line Group, is the largest coral atoll in the world with an expansive inland lagoon system and extensive coastline, both boasting endless flats of white sand, coral and crystal clear waters. The waters of Kiritimati are alive with bonefish and trevally as well as many other fish varieties. As such, Kiritimati is internationally renowned as a destination for bonefishing and other fishing.
Kiritimati waves present uncrowded isolated surf, in a very remote untouched environment, and are a more accessible alternative than Fanning Island.
Below the surface, the crystal clear waters and the masses of colourful sealife of the untouched marine environment offer superb diving and snorkelling.
On the atoll itself, the land is sparsely populated with just a few small villages, mostly in the northern areas. Away from the villages on the lagoon islets, Kiritimati is a haven for birdlife owing to its many wildlife sanctuaries, offering birdwatchers an ideal destination to watch shearwaters, terns and many other species of migratory sea birds
The outer islands of Kiribati offer varied experiences in terms of environment, culture, activity and remoteness.
Abaiang, is the most easily accessible outer island due to its proximity to Tarawa. Fishing activities can be arranged here.
Butaritari, one the greenest of the Kiribati islands, is famous for the traditional art of ‘binekua’, the calling of the porpoise by the men of Kuma. It also saw fighting during World War II.
Abemama, the first island where Captain Davis hoisted the Union jack in 1892 and home to Robert Louis Stevenson who resided here in 1889, offers good snorkelling in its lagoon.
Tabiteuea, the longest island in the Gilberts at 72km, is renowned for its dancers and its fiercely strong traditions.
Nonouti, in the south of the Gilbert Islands is being developed as a bonefishing destination due to its numerous islets and flats and quantities of bonefish.
Fanning (Tabuaeran) Island in the Line Group is beautiful and is a popular new cruise destination, as well as being a good surfing area, though its accessibility is limited.
The Phoenix Islands, including Kanton, are the most remote islands in Kiribati and the least accessible. They are at the heart of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, the world’s largest marine World Heritage site. Though there are plans to open the islands up for some tourism, access is currently very limited.