Experiences in Kiribati

Tarawa and the Outer Gilbert Islands
Tarawa is the base for adventures around the Outer Gilberts, and also hosts some very interesting sites and tours itself. Below are the details of tour providers. For details of tours of the World War II sites, also see our World Ware II page.

Abatao Cultural Tour
This fascinating tour in Abatao enables you to discover some of the traditional cultural practices of Kiribati that are still continued today. Discover the amazing world of giant clams at a local clam farm and experience a little of the life and customs of a traditional Kiribati village. Among the things that you might see are how garlands are made, how mats are woven and how toddy is cut, among many other things.

North Tarawa Conservation Area Tour
Travel by boat to the North Tarawa Conservation Area, an area looked after by the local I-Kiribati to preserve the environment and culture for future generations. Explore a variety of islets, where you will have the opportunity to discover places of historical significance and hear traditional stories. Visit local traditional buildings, and see the fish traps, watch the traditional sailing canoes and explore the pristine marine waters.

Fishing in Kiribati – Bone and Sports Fishing
Are you up for the adventure of fishing one of the best fishing locations in the world? Whether you prefer the deep blue waters with big game fish, or prefer the crystalline waters and serenity of saltwater flyfishing, Kiribati is the destination for you. A wise man once said “Calling fishing a hobby is like calling brain surgery a job”.

One big reason anglers come to Kiribati though is the mighty bonefish – by fly or saltwater spin, Kiritimati (Christmas) Island is the place to be. There’s also some world class game fishing, having obtained many International Game Fishing World Records, the waters in Kiribati are open for international anglers to try their hand. From bonefish, Giant Trevally, to Sail Fish and Marlin, Kiribati won’t disappoint.

So why wait – get your friends and mates and make the trip to fishing nirvana – Kiritimati can be accessed via Fiji or Hawaii, while you can get to Tarawa and the Gilbert Islands through Fiji only.

Kiritimati (Christmas) Island Fishing
Kiritimati (Christmas) Island is a fisherman’s paradise. Situated 1,200km South of Honolulu in the Central Pacific, just north of equator, Kiritimati is the largest coral atoll on the planet where the sea and sky naturally decorate a 250 square miles of white sand, iridescent aqua lagoons, coconut palms and endless flats.

This fishing destination is spectacular because it combines all the elements critical to fly-fishing success. Consistent year-round weather, endless hard sand flats, and magnificent numbers of cruising Bonefish and Trevally- making it ideal for the serious angler. What makes the fishing so special and extraordinary is the natural and raw power of the bonefish – it can fight so hard with so much strength that it makes the anglers work twice as hard. The knowledge of local guides always produces a big difference in fishing as they know their own flats, tides, reefs, waters, and fish. Their eagle eyes can spot the fish in any kind of weather condition.

If you still want more, you can always try your hand at either Blue fin, Golden or Giant Trevally! Giant Trevally is the strongest and powerful species on flats where most fishermen love to challenge its natural power on a 12 weight fly and spinning rod. Many fly and spin fishermen from all over the World come to Kiritimati Island just to wrestle with this powerful fish. The Trevally normally cruise everywhere on flats, inside natural channels, in deep waters inside the lagoon, and offshore along the coastal reefs – they can weight from 10lbs up to more than 100lbs.

Other species such as Sailfish, Wahoo, Barracuda, Sharks, Tuna and Bill fish are always out there in the blue ocean as a fishing bonus.

Fishing Gear to Bring
The best choice for Trevally fishing is 10–12 weights. Sizes of floating lines recommended are the 10-12 weight. Sizes of Monofilament leaders from 80lbs-100 lbs perfectly work in Christmas Island, and leader materials are from 30 down to 12lbs tippets. Trevally flies, popping bugs with kamagazu hooks, streamers, lefty deceivers, rat cliffs are right stuffs for your fishing and do not forget to bring along as well one spinning rod reaches the speed of 5.0 ratio and surface lures to attract big Trevally. We recommend 9-9 ½ foot 7, 8, or 9 weight graphite rods for bonefish and heavier 10-12 weight rods for Trevally. Sage’s 890 RPLXi-3 is ideal. Eight weights may be better for beginners but no matter what you experience, bring at least two rods in case you break one. You will also need a reliable saltwater reel like Abel’s large arbor Super 8. A bullet proof reel with a smooth friction drag is essential.

More than Fishing
If you have companions and family that don’t like fishing as much as you, or you want a break from the fishing, there is always meeting the locals and learning the culture, bird watching, lagoon sightseeing and snorkeling , going to London, Paris and Poland all in one day…are all part of the one week holiday package if you do not fish. These activities are available at lodges and should be a participation of 2-5 people per group.

Travelers are given the opportunity here to explore the beauty of Kiritimati Island and its people and their culture to learn and see for themselves how these people survive and what the island provides for them to live on every day. Activities available include SCUBA diving, wildlife lagoon and snorkel at Paris Point, surfing, bird watching, snorkeling and swimming at Cook Islet Bay, and cultural tours.

Tarawa & Gilbert Islands Fishing
Are you up to the thrill of bringing in a big marlin or sailfish? If so, the Gilbert Islands offer some of the best game fishing in the Pacific. Experienced anglers from Tarawa can take you on a fishing adventure to some of their best fishing spots. Feel the rush of catching sailfish, blue marlin, giant trevally, wahoo, black marlin, yellow fin & dog tooth tuna, and barracuda.

Chartered game fishing trips would cost around AUD$500 to $1000+, inclusive of fishing boat, fuel, fishing gear, and refreshments (beer/soft drinks & packed lunch). Game fishing tournaments are also held in Tarawa, run by the Betio Game Fishing Club every month, with the weigh in hosted at Captains Bar in Betio. Tournaments are timed on the Saturday nearest to the monthly full moon.

World War II
The Islands of Kiribati lay claim to a number of the bloodiest battles that were fought out in World War II. Sixty years on and much of the evidence of these battles still remain available for travellers to view as a living museum of this part of history; in particular Tarawa, Butaritari and Abemama of the Gilbert group, and Banaba island.

The Japanese entered the pacific and invaded the Gilberts in December of 1941, two days after they bombed Pearl Harbour. In August of 1942, the US Marines held three major operations in an attempt to remove the Japanese, including “The Battle of Tarawa”, reputedly one of the bloodiest battles ever fought in World War II.

On Tarawa and Butaritari Atoll there are still physical relics of the occupation and operations. This includes four eight inch coastal defense guns, and solid concrete bunkers and pillboxes. Rusted tanks, amtracs, ship wrecks, and plane wrecks can also be seen on the shores at low tide. To see these you can just take a walk or bus ride around Tarawa, but we recommend you do a guided tour so you don’t miss anything!

Molly’s Tours (in Tarawa)
Molly will take you back in time to one of bloodiest battles ever fought during World War II. The tour will be on Betio, the scene of “Operation Galvanic” one of the most significantand bloody battles in the history of WWII. The tour requires that reef shoes are worn as you will be walking out over the reef to see the war relics and artifacts. Highlights of the tour include: Red Beach 1,2 and 3; Vickers 8” coastal guns, brought during the Russian Japanese war of 1905; Japanese bunkers and pillboxes which fortified the island of Betio in 1942; see the remains of Amtracs, American Sherman and Japanese type 95 tanks; American and Japanese memorials, the memorial to the British and New Zealand coastal watchers and the Cenotaph erected as a time capsule to Americans fallen in action; and Buddhist and Shinto shrines erected by the Japanese in memory of their war dead in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands.

Bird Watching in Kiribati
Kiritimati Island is a sanctuary and breeding ground in the Pacific for seabirds. With very little land in any direction, Kiritimati supports 18 different species of birds, including the endemic Christmas Island Warbler. The island is also home, and a population stronghold, to the endangered Phoenix Petrel and the White Throated Storm Petrel.

Supporting nine designated protected zones to support the breeding and nesting of the various bird species Kiritimati takes it role in supporting these birds very seriously. The Kiribati Ministry for Wildlife and Conservation is responsible for ensuring the breeding grounds are not disturbed.

While seabirds can nest and breed throughout the year, as there is little temperature fluctuation, the best breeding seasons are June and December.

In Central Kiribati the Phoenix Island Protected Area also supports an extensive bird colony and nesting habitat. For more information on the Phoenix Island protected area.

Birds found on Kiritimati Island are: phoenix shearwaters, wedge-tailed shearwaters, christmas shearwaters, audubon’s shearwaters, polynesian storm petrels, red-tailed tropicbirds, masked boobies, brown boobies, great frigate birds, red-footed boobies, lesser frigate birds, great crested terns, grey backed terns, sooty terns, brown noddies black noddies, blue-gray noddies, and white terns.

Diving & Snorkeling
Scuba Diving – Tarawa & Neighbouring Gilbert Island Atolls
Kukurei Dive is the Gilbert Islands newest dive operator. James Smith is a PADI accredited Dive Master and provides an array of diving both in the Tarawa Lagoon and in locations just off neighbouring atolls. Diving packages can be arranged in conjunction with Ouba Islet Resort & Fishing Lodge. With years of experience in diving the islands of Kiribati, James can ensure you get to see the best of Kiribati’s underwater playground.

Surfing in Kiribati
Big and long breaks off Fanning and Kiritimati (Christmas) islands, the final frontier – where “lack of crowds” is a complete understatement, you will be lucky if anyone else is out with you. This is the beauty of the isolation of the central pacific Of course this exclusiveness is because these places can be a little challenging to get to – however you are in the right place to find out. Only for the truely adventurous surfer/traveller, below are the details you will need to arrange your surf trip of a life time, and waves you have only dreamt about.

Fanning (Tabuaeran) Island
Of all of Kiribati, Fanning is the pick with almost year round consistent swell. Fanning has breaks on the North and South, making the most of both Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere swells. The two most consistent breaks are ‘English Harbour’ in the South with strong and consistent March to June; and ‘Walers’ in the North with strong conisistent swell from October to March (even picks up some southern swell.

Kiritimati (Christmas Island)
Kiritimati is host to a golden five kilometer stretch of points, reefs and channels between London village and Paris point. This stretch is reputed to have 24 surfable waves – with surf season October through to March. The swell hits Kiritimati about a day or two after it hits Hawaii – a 8′ to 12′ swell at Sunset Beach in Hawaii will result in 6′ to 10′ clean faces in Kiritimati one to two days later. Of the 24 breaks, two third are user friendly with deep channels and sand of soft reef bottom. The other third is has rough coral bottoms and are for experienced surfers only.

Tarawa and the Gilberts
Not all of the Gilberts is good for surfing, but there are a few breaks around. If your stopping by Tarawa on a business trip or to visit friends or relatives, there are some decent waves to be found on the end of a rising tide. The most easy to get to breaks are in Temaiku – a village not far from the airport. The best break in Tarawa though is Naa – right at the tip of North Tarawa. After that, there are some breaks off the outer islands – off the Abaiang islets near the Ouba lodge, as well as some of Marakei. These are for only the truely adventurous though – contact our office for more details!

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