Kiribati - a Few Updates
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Sep 1, 2012 10:11 PM Last Post By: Laszlo
Oct 27, 2010 7:20 PM
Kiribati - a Few UpdatesWith the Micronesian countries no longer covered by LP and Kiribati in particular rather rarely posted about on TT, I thought the following might interest some:
Three airlines fly to the country nowadays:
Air Pacific from Fiji to Tarawa and both Fiji and Hawaii to Christmas Island
Our Airline from Nauru and Fiji to Tarawa
Air Marshall Islands from the Majuro to Tarawa
Air Kiribati and Coral Sun should serve all atolls in the Gilbert group, but in practice both CS planes and one of the 2 AK ones are grounded right now. The remaining AK aircraft seems to stick to published schedules pretty well nowadays. Fares are in the $30-150 range OW, plus a $20 tax.
Cargo boats are still a very realistic option in Kiribati, with deck fares roughly 50% of the airfares. Most offer cabins, too.
The KNTO is now staffed by very enthusiastic and knowledgeable young guys, one of whom goes to meet incoming international flights at the airport, giving them a free "Tarawa and Outer Islands" guide and a schedule of upcoming events even before they reach immigration.
Their website is great, and they seem to try and keep it updated.
Accommodation & Food
Tarawa has maybe 9 decent places to stay, mostly in the AU$50-70 range for an AC room.
Cheapest of them is the Temaeu Motel (close to Laggon Breeze) charging $50 for an AC room in a concrete block. The cheapest place listed in the old LP guide, Sweet Coconut, is now kind of permanently occupied by Cuban doctors serving in Tarawa.
None of these decent places are really geared at holidaymakers so they tend to concentrate on providing basic comforts rather than atmosphere, views, etc.
For budget travelers who are not too picky, a cheaper option is the Seamen's Hostel in Betio - it is every bit as sleazy as the name should suggest and very run-down, but costs only $25 and is close to the port. Generous supply of complimentary condoms in the rooms! ;-) Single women should go elsewhere.
Lots of basic places to eat around town, and cheap rice and fish meals can be as cheap as $1.5 from takeaways.
In the outer islands, council-run guest houses still seem to charge a standard price of $30 for accommodation and food. Again, they are not built for romantic holidays, but will offer the basics. Food varies from dismal (sardine sandwiches) to great (tuna steaks with lots of fresh pumpkin, taro etc).
This is perhaps as close as one gets to "Old Oceania" outside Melanesia, with almost everyone in the outer islands still living in traditional, open-sided wooden homes with leaf roofs, readily smiling at foreigners. Theft just doesn't seem to be an issue, at least outside the city, and in general, no one is after your money. Compared to other "English-speaking" areas in the region, little English is spoken, even in Tarawa!
On the other hand, this also means that there is "little to do" and no really "nice places to stay". The "city" of South Tarawa is friendly but scruffy/dusty, with no landscaping, shopping and eating options geared at visitors.
KNTO has now adopted the slogan "For Travelers, Not Tourists", and while this is a strange slogan for a tourism organization, it is probably spot on. Those looking for a pleasant, comfortable holiday as can be had in more touristy Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa etc. are likely to get bored and frustrated very quickly, while those interested in an untouristed, traditional environment and are ready to "rough it" and to pay more than they would in Fiji, Tonga etc should still find Kiribati a unique destination.
Nov 1, 2010 5:01 PM
1Thank you for this fantastic post, Laszlo, I'm hoping to head to Kiribati in 2012.
Nov 3, 2010 1:22 PM
2My goodness, Lazslo, you get around... Kiribati, my.
I hope you will write a detailed trip report when you return... Happy travels.
Nov 12, 2010 9:22 PM
3Sorry Greg, I'm just not that trip-report-writing type!
But I have uploaded a few photos on a forum in my native tongue here:
Scroll down to post 1171 for pix of the capital, South Tarawa, and 1172-74 for outer island ones. Click photos to enlarge.
Only a few, but they do give a realistic impression of the country, I think.
Those "fales" are real ones, that's how they still live on the outer islands.
I guess Samoan villages would have been similar maybe 30-50(?) years ago...
Those huge, traditional village halls (1174) are unique to Kiribati though, I believe. Village social life still revolves around them, rather than around the churches! And life does not come to a halt on Sundays, unlike... ;-)
Apr 2, 2011 12:35 AM
Mar 6, 2012 1:58 AM
5I too found this an immensely helpful post.
I'm adding to the "getting there" part of this post with some recent (March 2012) details, having just bought a ticket for a work trip.
Air Marshall Islands does scheduled flights every 2 weeks Majuro to Tarawa CW117 returning the same day. The next scheduled flight is Monday 19th of March at 5am, and return departs Tarawa at 10am, and then April 2nd 2012 etc..
Current price is USD$330 if ticket bought in Marshall Islands.
They cannot issue a one way ticket unless you can provide proof of an onward ticket or Kiribati/RMI residence/work permit.
The email address Air Marshall Islands gave me on the phone is email@example.com, but I also had found firstname.lastname@example.org which to me seems more correct based on other Marshall Islands emails, but I received no reply from either yet.
The phone number I reached them on is +692 625-3733. Lily was very helpful, so would suggest just calling them.
Our Airline (former Air Nauru) just restarted (March 5th 2012) weekly flights to Tarawa from Nadi. Not sure how long it will last. It is good in that Air Pacific has now reduced fares a bit, when in the absence of competition it went up to almost $1600 one way.
If I have any issues with the travel I'll do another post when I get back
Mar 6, 2012 8:38 PM
6$1600 one way! No wonder nobody was making it to Kiribati. That is insane!
Mar 9, 2012 9:48 PM
Mar 11, 2012 8:27 PM
8Sadly no, I have a sick relative in India and need to use money & spouse's vacation days to head there. With luck, I'll go up for tenure early in 2013, and then could have a celebratory trip in 2014. Further off than I had hoped :(.
Aug 30, 2012 9:53 PM
9Is there any idea to go to kiribati in november-december? Has anyone used the ferry from fiji to get there and how long does it take?
Sep 1, 2012 10:11 PM
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