Kiribati and Tuvalu

The independent island nations of Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) and Tuvalu came into being in 1975 when the then British colonial territories of the Gilbert and Ellice islands were granted independence. Kiribati was formed out of the Gilbert Islands, which is the northern group of islands. Tuvalu came into being when the peoples of the southern group, the Ellice Islands, voted not to join with their old neighbours but to go it alone as an independent nation.

 

Kiribati is a nation of 80,000 people of whom 60,000 live on the Capital Island of Tarawa.  The country's territory covers an ocean area of over 390,000 square miles and comprises of 33 islands.  Sub-divided into 3 main groups, the Gilbert Islands in the west, the Phoenix in the middle and the Line Islands in the east.  Tuvalu is the smaller of the two nations with 9 islands spread over an area of 35,000 square miles, with a population of 9,500.  During the Second World War, these two island groupings formed the front line between the opposing Japanese and American forces.  On Tarawa you will find Japanese gun emplacements and command bunkers, as well as the rusting hulks of American landing craft that were used when the island was liberated at the cost of 13,000 Japanese and 7,000 American lives.  Also on a number of Tuvalu's outer islands you will find the remains of crashed American aircraft.

 

The islands of both countries fit well into the stereotyping of the advertising world's view of a deserted tropical island.  As far as their typography goes they are all low islands with many long white sand beaches fringed with waving palm trees.  But in our opinion that's as far as the stereotyping goes.

 

Both nations are still in the infancy of their independence and are striving to develop sustainable economies.  Currently their economies are based on three main elements; overseas aid, the fees derived from issuing fishing licences to foreign nations and selling their internet domains.  As a consequence of their limited financial resources,  there is little government support for tourism.  There is very little tourist infrastructure, and what there is, is very basic.  There are no first class hotels on any of the islands, mainly the accomodation is small B&B-type properties.  Both capital cities, Tarawa and Funafuti, each have one main hotel which were built with aid from China, they are very basic and not designed with tourists in mind.

 

The one thing that we were not prepared for was just how much litter there was strewn around, especially aluminium drink cans!  Our last visit was a few years ago, and if they haven't improved the litter situation, this fact alone could destroy one's expectation of the dream destination.  So we would not recommend a visit to Kiribati or Tuvalu to anybody who is looking for the traditional relaxing romantic holiday on their dream Pacific Island.  But we would recommend a visit if you are interested in experiencing and discovering a side of the Pacific that the glossy coffee table magazines and most of our competitors will not feature.

 

Should your travels take you to this part of the Pacific please do not expect too much from your 'hospitality' experience, the dividend from your visit will come from the cultural experience and the scenic beauty of the island nations unspoiled outer islands and the warmth of their peoples.

 

Cruises around Kiribati and Tuvalu

Currently, there are no locally based cruise companies offering cruse itineraries around the islands of Kiribati and Tuvalu.  There are a few major cruise companies operating the large luxury liners, who offer itineraries across and around the Pacific that will visit some of these islands, but they are not frequent or on a regular basis.

 

 

Please note: We are constantly updating the prices shown on this website, but due to volatility of the currency exchange markets at the moment with the UK Sterling rates, prices may vary from those shown.  If you wish to confirm any prices shown here, please contact us directly.



An introduction to the different islands
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