Republic of Kiribati
The Republic of Kiribati is an island state in the middle of the Pacific Ocean consisting of several dispersed archipelagos. The Republic does not have any land borders, its closest neighbouring states are the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and the Cook Islands. The capital city is the South Tarawa.
Almost all islands have an equatorial oceanic climate, but some atolls have a tropical climate. Due to the near-equatorial location, the touristic season lasts here all the year round. However, be aware that from March to October, north-west trade winds occur on the islands and the weather are not so hot. From December to March is a stormy period.
The official languages are English and Kiribati. Beyond the capital city people do not speak English. But use their local language. Half of the people on the island are the Catholics and the other half are the Protestants.
Kiribati is the main destination for beach holidays. A warm weather, nice sea, golden sand, and the palms will transfer the tourists to the iconic tropical paradise where one can enjoy the quiet and peaceful time. The Pacific Ocean has a very rich underwater life and it is an ideal place for diving. While the resort infrastructure is not well-developed in Kiribati because of the remoteness of the islands, this isolation makes it the best place for ecological and green tourism. A trip to any island is good for those who seek privacy and quiet time.
In addition to golden beaches, the tourists will find many interesting places to visit and things to see. In Betio on the Gilbert islands, there are many things reminding of the Second World War. The Banaba Island will surprise you with its very unusual landscape after phosphate mining. The Line Islands preserved their wild nature untouched and an interesting fact is that this is the place on the planet which first meets each new day.
Due to its remoteness, one can get to Kiribati only by plane, but there are no direct flights from CIS and EU countries to the islands. The travel to Kiribati involves a long flight with several transfers. In Kiribati, there are two international airports on the Tarawa Island and the Christmas Island. There are flights from Nauru, Fiji, and the Marchall Islands and you can get there from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea or the USA. The second airport welcomes the planes flying from Fiji.
Excluding Croatia, the tourists from the European Union do not need a visa provided that their stay on the islands will not exceed 30 days. The citizens of Croatia and CIS countries have to obtain a visa at the British Embassy, which represents the interests of Kiribati in many countries.
Personal presence is required. The time for processing the documents for a visa is from 10 days to 3 weeks.
Do not forget that there are no direct flights from Europe to Kiribati so you may need to get a transit visa as well.
In Kiribati, there are no restrictions concerning the import and export of foreign and national currency. However, the sum of 10.000 Australian dollars must be declared.
The tourists can bring in the following goods duty-free:
- a small amount of alcohol and tobacco;
- perfume for personal use and indicated on the declaration form;
- one photo and video camera per person;
- sports equipment for personal use and indicated on the declaration form.
It is prohibited to import:
- food from Asia;
- any pets.
It is prohibited to export:
- protected plants and animals;
- goods made of sea shells and corals (in practice, this rule is often violated).
The island cuisine of Kiribati is based, mainly, on seafood, local root plants, and coconuts. However, recently a poor diet of the people became more diverse due to the influence of the American, European, and Asian cooking traditions.
As for meat dishes in Kiribati, you can try pork prepared in the ground oven and meat salad with pandanus. The locals can cook chicken Palu Sami very well.
The soups are typically cooked with seafood and local plants such as pandanus and breadfruit. In some soups, they add coconut water.
Do not miss a chance to try seafood dishes, for example, roasted sea fish, fish salad with pandanus, and fish marinated with coconut water.
The local people eat a lot of yams, manioc, coconuts, and taro roots. They boil, roast, fry, marinated them and eat fresh. Many locally grown herbs and seaweed are used for making sauces and spices. Your holidays in Kiribati will be incomplete if you do not try any of these dishes prepared according to the local traditional recipes.
Nature is not diverse here, so the locals content themselves only with one dessert and this is Kamaimai (sweet syrup made of fermented coconut palm juice).
Since the old days, the locals make tea with shredded coconut. And the most popular alcoholic drink in Kiribati is Kakioki (fermented coconut palm juice).
The official currency in Kiribati is the Australian Dollar (AUD) which is equal to 100 cents. In circulation are 5 to 100 dollars banknotes, 1 and 2 dollar coins and coins from 5 to 50 cents.
We recommend buying Australian dollars beforehand. On the islands, you can exchange the currency at banks and in hotels. On the main islands, you can pay with US dollars, but on the remote islands American currency is not accepted. Besides, as Kiribati is one of the poorest countries in the world, it is difficult to change a 100 Australian dollar banknotes.
Bank cards are accepted on Tarawa and in some large hotels in other islands. It is a problem to find ATMs in Kiribati so make sure you have enough cash.
Traveller’s checks are accepted only at banks, large hotels and some shops on the main island. We recommend taking checks in Australian dollars.
Details of interest
Sightseeing in Kiribati
In Kiribati, there is one UNESCO site. This is the Phoenix Islands Protected Area. It is the largest reserve on the planet the size of which is compared with an average European country, but the total area of it is only 25 square kilometres. This place has an untouched coral ecosystem with, at least, 800 species of animals including 500 species of fish.
The tourists should also visit other places in Kiribati. They are not under UNESCO protection, but still present a great touristic interest.
- In Betio, there are many artefacts of the Second World War: coastal guns, anti-airborne buildings and bunkers. The divers will be able to discover sunken aircraft wreckage and landing boats.
- The Banaba island will tell the tourists a story how the entire island was almost totally destroyed because of phosphate mining. Rusty excavators, transport mechanisms, half destroyed port facilities and dilapidated homes are the deadly reminders of the predatory relationship toward fragile natural resources. Banaba is a must-see.
- On the Malden island, there are the ruins of the ancient Polynesian buildings.
- The Starbuck Island is a habitat for hundreds of thousands of birds.
- In Tarawa, the tourists can see the old prison building and the government house in the Colonial style.
- Close to the Nikumaroro island, there are the remnants of the ship “Norwich City” which sank almost one hundred years ago.
Souvenirs in Kiribati
In Kiribati, the tourists can buy:
- wooden figurines;
- necklaces and bracelets;
- unusual vessels for wine and water;
- pictures with Kiribati landscapes;
- the local alcoholic beverage Kakioki.