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How to Spend 48 Hours in Kiribati

Kiribati, an island nation in the central Pacific Ocean, offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. With its 33 atolls and reef islands, Kiribati is a paradise for those looking to explore unspoiled beaches, vibrant marine life, and rich cultural experiences. This guide will help you make the most of your 48 hours in Kiribati, covering everything from historical sites to adventure activities and local cuisine.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore the historical sites and cultural experiences in Tarawa Atoll to get a glimpse of Kiribati’s rich heritage.
  • Engage in adventure activities like fishing, birdwatching, and surfing on Kiritimati Island for an adrenaline rush.
  • Relax on Kiribati’s pristine beaches and enjoy sunset spots that offer breathtaking views.
  • Discover the vibrant marine life through diving and snorkeling at some of the top sites in Kiribati.
  • Savor the local cuisine by trying traditional dishes and visiting the best restaurants and food markets.

Exploring Tarawa Atoll

seashore during golden hour

Historical Sites

Tarawa Atoll is steeped in history, particularly from World War II. The atoll was a significant battleground during the war, with the Japanese establishing a heavily fortified command center here. Relics of the battles, including pillboxes and artillery placements, can still be seen today. A visit to these sites offers a poignant glimpse into the past and the intense battles that took place.

Local Markets

The local markets in Tarawa Atoll are a vibrant hub of activity. Here, you can find a variety of fresh produce, handmade crafts, and traditional foods. The markets are an excellent place to experience the local culture and interact with the friendly residents. Don’t miss the chance to try some unique island delicacies and perhaps pick up a souvenir or two.

Cultural Experiences

Immersing yourself in the cultural experiences of Tarawa Atoll is a must. The island’s rich traditions and customs are evident in its daily life. Visitors can participate in traditional dance performances, learn about local crafts, and even join in community events. These experiences provide a deeper understanding of the island’s heritage and the warm hospitality of its people.

Adventure Activities on Kiritimati Island

people on beach beside two brown boats during daytime

Fishing Expeditions

Kiritimati Island is a world-renowned fishing destination, offering both fly fishing on the flats and offshore blue water game. With consistent year-round fishing, Kiritimati is a paradise for anglers eager to explore the endless flats, home to the fighting bonefish, mighty Giant Trevally, and the strong triggerfish. Offshore, you can test your stamina with tuna, marlin, sailfish, wahoo, and more. Fishing on Kiritimati is sustained through catch & release practices, ensuring the preservation of its rich marine life. Most hotels on the island provide fishing activities, making it easy to arrange your adventure.

Birdwatching Tours

Kiritimati is an exceptional island for birdwatching, offering the opportunity to see 19 species of birds, including the endemic Christmas Island Warbler, locally known as the Bokikokiko. There are nine protected zones that support bird breeding and nesting, under the protection of the Wildlife Unit. Tours can be arranged through your hotel, which will coordinate with the Wild Conservation Unit Rangers. Fees and tour costs apply.

Surfing Spots

Kiritimati Island boasts a golden five-kilometer stretch of points, reefs, and channels between London village and Paris points, reputed to have 24 surfable waves. The surf season runs from October to March, with swells hitting Kiritimati about a day or two after Hawaii. Surfing here is unique because you own your wave, with zero crowds. Recommended spots include Cochrane Reef, Cook Islet, and Paris. When the prevailing easterly winds are strong, Paris Reef is perfect for surfing.

Explore Kiritimati Island with Far and Away Adventures for fishing, birdwatching, surfing, diving, and snorkeling. Unique experiences await in this South Pacific paradise.

Relaxing on the Beaches of Kiribati

Best Beaches to Visit

Kiribati boasts some of the most pristine and secluded beaches in the Pacific. Among the top spots are Biketawa Beach on Tarawa Atoll and Cook Island’s secret beaches: a guide to secluded spots. Explore Manihiki’s hidden beaches, swimming and snorkeling in northern atolls, local legends, Aitutaki’s romantic beaches, and private resorts. These locations offer a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Beach Activities

While lounging on the beach is a must, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained. From beach volleyball to paddleboarding, the options are endless. For those interested in marine life, snorkeling and shallow diving are popular choices. Don’t miss the chance to explore the vibrant coral reefs just off the shore.

Sunset Spots

The sunsets in Kiribati are nothing short of spectacular. Head to the western shores of any island for the best views. Biketawa Beach is particularly famous for its breathtaking sunsets, where the sky transforms into a canvas of oranges, pinks, and purples. It’s the perfect way to end a day of relaxation and adventure.

Kiribati’s beaches offer a unique blend of tranquility and adventure, making it an ideal destination for those looking to unwind and explore. Whether you’re lounging on the sand or diving into the crystal-clear waters, the experience is sure to be unforgettable.

Diving and Snorkeling in Kiribati

palm trees beside shoreline

Top Diving Sites

Kiribati offers some of the most pristine diving sites in the world. The northern coast of Kiritimati Island is particularly famous for its unspoiled corals, such as Acropora and plate corals. These sites are home to a wide variety of small tropical species, including surgeon fish, wrasse, and butterfly fish. Wreck diving is also popular, with the Bay Wrecks offering an exciting underwater adventure.

Marine Life

The marine life in Kiribati is incredibly diverse. You can encounter majestic whale sharks, spinner dolphins, and manta rays. The coral reefs are teeming with vibrant fish species and other marine creatures like the Dragon Moray and Flame Angelfish. The Phoenix Islands Protected Area is a must-visit for its rich biodiversity.

Snorkeling Tips

For those new to snorkeling, it’s essential to start in shallow waters to get comfortable with the gear. Always snorkel with a buddy and be mindful of the currents. Exploring the coral reefs of Kiribati will reveal a stunning underwater world, making it an unforgettable experience.

Experiencing Local Cuisine

Traditional Dishes

Kiribati’s cuisine is a delightful blend of flavors, primarily featuring seafood, coconut, and root vegetables. One must-try dish is palusami, which consists of taro leaves cooked in coconut cream. Another local favorite is te bua toro ni baukin, a dish made from fermented breadfruit. These traditional dishes offer a unique taste of Kiribati’s rich culinary heritage.

Best Restaurants

While options may be limited, there are a few notable restaurants where you can savor authentic Kiribati cuisine. Na’s Kitchen and The Blue Ox are popular choices among locals and tourists alike. For a more diverse menu, Ganesh Bar & Restaurant offers a mix of local and international dishes. These establishments provide a glimpse into the local food scene and are worth a visit.

Food Markets

Exploring local food markets is an excellent way to experience the vibrant culinary culture of Kiribati. The markets are filled with fresh produce, seafood, and traditional snacks. It’s a great opportunity to interact with locals and learn more about their food traditions. Don’t miss out on trying some freshly caught fish or locally grown fruits.

Understanding Kiribati’s Culture

aerial photography of boulders on body of water

Language and Traditions

Kiribati’s culture is deeply rooted in its unique language and traditions. The Kiribati language, spoken across the islands, has different idiomatic expressions depending on the region. The traditional Unimwane (Elderly men) system, though not widely practiced today, still holds significance in some parts of the islands. Experiencing these traditions firsthand offers a glimpse into the island’s rich heritage.

Festivals and Celebrations

Festivals in Kiribati are vibrant and filled with joy. If you visit during religious holidays like Easter or Christmas, or national celebrations such as Kiribati Independence Day, you’ll witness the island’s lively spirit. These celebrations often include traditional dances, music, and communal feasts, providing a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture.

Local Crafts

Kiribati is renowned for its traditional handicrafts, which are still made using age-old techniques. From intricately woven mats to beautifully crafted jewelry, these items make for unique souvenirs. Shopping for these crafts not only supports local artisans but also allows you to take a piece of Kiribati’s culture home with you.

The best way to experience Kiribati’s relatively untouched culture is to visit an outer island and meet the ever-friendly local people. Their warmth and hospitality will make your cultural exploration truly memorable.

Navigating Transportation in Kiribati

Kiribati is accessible primarily by air. The main international gateway is Bonriki International Airport on Tarawa Atoll. Flights to Kiribati are limited, with connections mainly from Fiji and a few other Pacific nations. Planning your trip in advance is crucial due to the limited flight schedules.

Once in Kiribati, getting around can be an adventure. The most common modes of transport include:

  • Buses and Minibuses: These are the primary means of public transport on Tarawa. They are affordable but can be crowded.

  • Taxis: Available in urban areas, taxis are a convenient but more expensive option.

  • Bicycles and Motorbikes: Ideal for short distances and exploring at your own pace.

  • Boats and Ferries: Essential for traveling between islands, offering a unique way to experience the vast waters of Kiribati.

  • Currency: The Australian dollar is used, so ensure you have enough cash as ATMs are scarce.

  • Language: While English is spoken, learning a few phrases in the local Kiribati language can be helpful.

  • Safety: Kiribati is generally safe, but always take standard travel precautions.

  • Health: Carry necessary medications and be prepared for limited medical facilities.

Navigating Kiribati requires a bit of planning, but the experience of exploring this unique destination is well worth the effort. Embrace the local culture and enjoy the journey.

Navigating transportation in Kiribati can be a unique experience, with options ranging from local ferries to small aircraft. To make the most of your journey and explore all the beautiful islands, visit our website for detailed travel guides and tips. Start planning your adventure today!


Spending 48 hours in Kiribati offers a unique and unforgettable experience, blending rich cultural heritage, breathtaking natural beauty, and a sense of tranquility that is hard to find elsewhere. From exploring the pristine beaches and vibrant marine life to immersing yourself in the local traditions and history, Kiribati provides a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a culture enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, Kiribati has something to offer for everyone. So pack your bags and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime in this hidden gem of the Pacific.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to visit Kiribati?

The best time to visit Kiribati is from April to October, which is the dry season. During this period, you can enjoy pleasant weather and outdoor activities.

How can I get to Kiribati?

You can reach Kiribati by flying into Bonriki International Airport on Tarawa or Cassidy International Airport on Kiritimati. Flights are available from Nadi, Fiji, and Honolulu, Hawaii.

What currency is used in Kiribati?

The official currency used in Kiribati is the Australian Dollar (AUD).

Are there any cultural norms I should be aware of when visiting Kiribati?

Yes, when visiting Kiribati, it’s important to respect local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, especially when visiting villages, and always ask for permission before taking photographs of people.

What languages are spoken in Kiribati?

The official languages of Kiribati are English and Gilbertese (Kiribati). While English is widely understood, Gilbertese is commonly spoken among locals.

Is Kiribati a safe destination for tourists?

Kiribati is considered a safe destination for tourists. The islands are free from natural disasters like tsunamis, hurricanes, or cyclones. However, it’s always advisable to take standard travel precautions.