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Kiribati - Top Tips

Super Seven

Betio Island The largest township in the capital of Tarawa is Betio Island and is at the south-west of the atoll. There's a real community vibe and it's a great spot for photographers, as the locals are out in their droves. Lots of outdoor sport activities are happening on a daily basis around the Betio Sport Complex area, which is where there's also some monuments, such as the American War Memorial. Would also recommend strolling the beaches ahead of sunset to see some of the WWII relics in good lighting. Interestingly, all of the beaches have code names dating back to WWII, such as Red Beach and Green Beach.

WWII Tour If you're a WWII buff or a history buff in general, then Kiribati has got you covered. There's war relics scattered across the country, but these aren't easily marked out on GoogleMaps, so i would recommend using a local to take you (see Good Guide section). There's pyramid-shaped shelter structures, tank tracks, plus guns, guns, and more guns. Next to many of these relics, there's also memorials to specific countries. I saw Japan, South Korea and the US, but I'm sure there's many more.

North Tarawa (Tabon de KeeKee Eco Lodge) Depending on your length of stay, a visit to Kiribati can be a little "hard graft" due to basic facilities and intense heat, but there is a solution. You can book an overnight stay at Tabon de KeeKee Eco Lodge, which is exactly what I did. Located in North Tarawa, yet seems a million miles away from both Tarawa and Betio. For full clarification, there's not a huge amount to do here, so the purpose is "chill out". You have traditional style accommodation with stilt houses that include both a bed and hammock, wiith these houses leading directly into the ocean. Staffing and food on offer is also basic, so would recommend bringing a snack bag. There's a local village within a 10 min walk where you'll be able to get a glimpse into everyday life. Note - Book your stay direct via Whatsapp on +686 73013757.

Tarawa Tarawa itself, is the the main hub of the country. Majority of the hotels, administrative offices, and population live here. Pass by the Parliament Building which is architecturally attractive and has a really cool map of the atoll and hemisphere time lines. You can visit the highest point in the country, which is 3 meters above sea level. Although it's fun and quirky, it's also worrying as you'll see many signs of global warming around the country with plenty of sea walls being built. There's also some local food sellers and stores, but surprisingly for a pacific nation, no local market.

Coconut Oil Factory For an unusual visit, you can pass by a virgin coconut oil factory to gain an insight into a local industry that's really thriving. To be clear, this isn't a tourist attraction, but the guide I've recommended can take you there. The oil is the largest export from the country so typically, the factory is located next to the port, right where the cruise ships come in. I had no idea coconut oil is used for so many things ranging from cooking, hair treatments, and even herbal remedies. The workers in the factory are friendly and whilst they have a job to do, they were still happy to answer questions.

Traditional Village Tour During your stay you will notice that the country is built on a solid foundation of many communities and villages. Aside from the beaches and war relics, I'd recommend visiting a local village to get a really good insight into daily life and integrate with the locals. I went to Tabon Temakin and saw ladies weaving bags and household items using palm tree, then there was a wooden hut repairing all electronic items like speakers and computers. The place reminded me of an outdoor factory with different sectors for different skillsets.

Museum & Culture Centre

Kiribati does have a Museum & Culture Centre, albeit not a place that's regularly advertised. It's located in Bikenibeu on the atoll of Tarawa within close proximity to the airport, so a easy stop off. It's a small place, but there's still plenty of artefacts on display that have important significance both culturally and historically. I found it fascinating to learn how the population of the past had such a huge reliance on nature from both the ocean and palm trees.

Accommodation Advice

I stayed in a handful of places during my visit, but the one I'd definitely recommend is Utirerei Hotel. The rooms are modern, there's hot water, stable internet, and a restaurant with a great menu. The owner Simon was very welcoming and helpful with providing tips about the local area. Transport in Kiribati is relatively sparse, but there's a minibus stop right outside the hotel with buses passing every 10-15 minutes that run back and forth along the atoll.

Food Factor

Whilst I had great food at the restaurant inside Utirerei Hotel, I want to recommend Chatterbox Cafe for a number of reasons. The cafe does great coffee, fresh fruit smoothies, and toasted wraps. Additionally, there's a small souvenir store at the back of the cafe where there's also a local travel agency. If you work remote, this cafe is the only place in the country where I found internet connectivity strong enough to carry out multiple video calls. Although, do bear in mind that the internet is expensive via log-in vouchers purchased at the counter.

Good Guide

I had a great experience with local guide Molly Brown, who I'd definitely recommend. Molly is a real islander, so her timekeeping isn't the best, but she knows literally everyone, which is a huge benefit at multiple stops like Parliament Building and the Coconut Oil Factory. She has her own vehicle and her prices are reasonable for day guide services. She's also the recommended guide for many of the larger adventure travel companies when they pass through Kiribati, so you know you're in safe hands. You can reach Molly directly on or +686 73001016.


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