Funafuti Marine Conservation Area
Funafuti Marine Conservation Area information
If you've ever indulged in a desert-island fantasy, now's your chance to visit one for real. The five islets of the Funafuti Conservation Area are strung in a necklace along the western side of the atoll; all are uninhabited and - with the consent of the landowners - are protected as no fishing, no hunting, no gathering areas.
The islets, varying in size from small to tiny, are fringed with white sand, sport a dense cluster of native forest and palm trees and are alive with the noise and activity of colonies of seabirds; one of the joys of stepping ashore is finding yourself eyeball to eyeball with an exquisite and curious fairy tern hovering in front of you. Green turtles nest on the beaches, and while much of the coral close to shore has suffered from bleaching, it still provides a home for many species of brilliantly coloured reef fish. Until 2005 there were six islets, but an exceptional storm and surge destroyed tiny Tepuka Savilivili, giving an unsettling taste of what might happen to Tuvalu as global warming progresses.
The conservation area, initiated in 1996, covers 33 sq km of lagoon, reef, channel, ocean and island habitats. It's open to visitors for snorkelling, walking, picnicking and bird-watching.