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wojtekd Tarawa - A travel report by Wojciech
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Tarawa,  Kiribati - flag Kiribati
16229 readers

wojtekd's travel reports

Happy people under palms

  26 votes
Page: 1 2

Tarawa travelogue picture
Did you hear about Kiribati? This insular country comprises three island groups: the Gilbert, Line (Northern and Southern) and Phoenix Islands. They sit over the equator. Deep blue ocean, reefs, sandy beaches, more coconut trees then people. Tarawa is not a single town but a coral atoll - the chain of small islets - motus surrounding the turquoise lagoon. In the south of the atoll causeways link the islets. In the north you will be forced to use the boat or just walk during the low tide to cross inter-motus channels. Locals still welcome travellers as rarely seen curios. It is not easy to reach Tarawa atoll where Kiribati's capital is located - the best gateway is Nadi airport on Fiji. It is even harder to go to the smaller atolls...

Favourite spots:
Tarawa travelogue picture
Northern Tarawa. The international airport is on Bonriki islet in the south-east corner of L-shaped atoll. Airfield divide atoll into two parts: 12-miles long, more civilized South Tarawa where the central government offices, new Parliament building, central post office, bank and various other official buildings are located and my fovourite - peaceful Northern Tarawa where is no traffic, no paved roads, no concrete and the people live like 100 years ago in thatched houses surrounded by palms - look at the picture... And I believe they are happy thare without TV and electricity. They smile to the strangers. Are we also in our world? Go to Northern Tarawa if you want to see real Micronesia...

What's really great:
Tarawa travelogue picture
The people! English is spoken in the institutions but not in the countryside. But they are smiling, greeting you on the road (remember: "Mauri!" means like -Hello! and "Korapa!" is equivalent of -Thank you!). They will invite you to their house for their simple meal... Today they wear T-shirts but they have also traditional dress made of straw - see picture... So traditional culture remains strong, with traditional dancing, singing, and magic still playing a significant role in people's lives - particularly on the outer atolls.

Tarawa travelogue picture
US weterans are coming here to visit southernmost Betio Island. Betio has a large number of war relics, after fierce and bloody fighting during a major marine assault in November 1943. On the nice beach you will see damaged bunkers and cannons - see photo.
Betio is probably the most populous in Kiribati, has the port, shipyard and jail. Further north is Bikenibeu, with flag hotel "Otintaai", Air Nauru office, hospital, schools, coloured catholic church and little cultural centre where local handicrafts and war memorablia are on display. In the Air Nauru office local travel agency is located and they sell souvenirs made of shells, straw and woodcarvings.

Tarawa travelogue picture
Wealthy people have a/c Hotel Otintaai on the islet Bikenibeu. They charge around 100 AUD for bed and breakfast. (Australian dollar is local currency). For the budget traveller I recommend cosy „Sweet Coconut Motel” (what a name!) in Tebunia village. I paid there 20 AUD per night. In fact it is not a motel - it is a 4-room guesthouse with shared bath, common kitchen and mosquito nets in the windows open to the ocean. To get there stop public minibus at the Peace Corps building.
If you are mosquito-resistant and want to spend the night in the local style there is also a chance: the representative of Air Nauru have a house for rent on Buota island - see photo.

Tarawa travelogue picture
I did not hear about the club there. (In fact I do not care - there are much more interesting places then clubs on my routes) Instead I suggest to visit local school in Northern Tarawa. It is located on Buota island. There are three classrooms in separate thatched houses (see one of them on the picture). My arrival there became the sensation and event of the day. They stopped all activities (sorry! I did not ask for that) and come outside with all kids for the photography. Here you are...

Tarawa travelogue picture
I want to add here one more photo related to the previous topic. On a picture you can see kids in the classroom of Buota school. There are no tables or chairs. They are sitting and writting on the mat covering ground floor...
Regarding pubs: No pubs. Staying at Buariki Hideaway – local - style guesthouse on the far end of Northern Tarawa (they charge 30 AUD per night plus 30 AUD for meals) you will be probably able to have your australian beer for extra fee. Under Southern Cross or in the shadow of palm tree!

Tarawa travelogue picture
I know one - in the Otintaai Hotel but it is nothing special except beautiful view of the lagoon. I recommend instead to go to Northern Tarawa and to eat with local people: fish, shrimp, breadfruit and imported rice with coconut milk. Try also todi - local alcohol made of coconut palm juice. See on the picture how they cook in the kitchen located outside of the house. On the tiny coral island there is limited supply of fruit like bananas and they are quite expensive...

Other recommendations:
Tarawa travelogue picture
Irregular boat service links Tarawa with other islands. Sea transport isn't expensive but takes a lot of time. Tabiteuea Island is the largest and most populous outer island, and is among the most beautiful in Kiribati. Much closer are Butaritari (there is airfield - recommended Pearl Shell Guest House - they have even electric power there) and Marakei - famous for legendary ghosts.
You are welcome to see more picture from Kiribati on my private page:

Published on Wednesday October 22th, 2003

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Mon, Feb 11 2008 - 08:44 PM rating by krisek

Kiribati is far from Poland! I am impressed you managed to get there! I heard about Kiribati when they moved the date line, so as to be the first to welcome the year 2000.

Fri, Jun 09 2006 - 08:11 AM rating by davidx

How do you find all these wonderful barely known places? Great report.

Sat, Nov 19 2005 - 07:39 AM rating by alfonsovasco

Wonderful report !!!

Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 05:37 AM rating by miguelmarchi

Only for the remotesness of this country you deserve 5 points. I think you are the only globo member to have been in Kiribati. Congratulations for your achievements!

Sun, May 29 2005 - 08:06 PM rating by rangutan

Nice report on special peaceful islands... inviting!

Wed, Dec 08 2004 - 04:13 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hii woj,
excellent report indeed.

Sat, Nov 20 2004 - 08:42 PM rating by magsalex

Another outstanding contribution

Thu, Oct 23 2003 - 11:04 PM rating by marianne

Indeed I had never heard of this place. After reading your repaort it is exactly a place for use. But we have already booked our next long holiday. I have two questions: How do you get there? and what about public transport.

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