Kiribati is an island nation in the central Pacific Ocean comprised of 33 coral islands that are divided into three island groups: the Gilbert Islands, the Line Islands, and the Phoenix Islands. Kiribati is considered part of the region of Micronesia and is situated along the equator about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii. Only 21 of the 33 islands are actually inhabited. In fact, the uninhabited Caroline Island in Kiribati is known as the first to usher in the new millennium. The publicity Kiribati received from this event has helped the islands attract a noticeable increase in the number of tourists this past decade.
Kiribati’s recent history, however, has not been as celebrated. The island of Tarawa was the scene of one of the worst battles in WWII between the Americans and the Japanese. The notorious Battle of Tarawa took place in the islet of Betio in the southern part of Tarawa, which is today a part of the Gilbert Islands group. More than 7,000 Japanese and American soldiers were killed in one of the bloodiest battles ever fought in WWII with an additional 2,000 plus wounded.
But Kiribati’s tourist attractions are more than just WWII sites. Bird-watching happens to be a favorite among travelers, especially on Christmas Island, which is located on the southern part of the Line Islands. Christmas Island is recognized as an important breeding habitat for seabirds of the Pacific Ocean. Thousands of seabirds flock to these islands to swoon over the surface fish, squid, and tuna. Numerous rare birds can be observed, including the Wedge-tailed, Christmas, and Audubon’s Shearwaters, the Masked, Brown, and Red-footed Boobies, and the Great-Crested, Grey-Backed, Sooty, and White Terns. June and December are the best times to go bird-watching, as the seabirds breed during these months. Other islands like Flint, Starbuck, and Vostock are also great bird-watching islands, but known more as homes for the various Terns.
The waters surrounding the islands of Kiribati also teem with unique and undiscovered marine species. The deep ocean around Kiribati is considered one of the few unspoiled and yet-to-be fully explored underwater sanctuaries left in the world. Scuba divers enjoy exploring the waters of the Line and Phoenix Islands to find new fishes or otherwise marvel at the beauty of already-discovered tropical fishes.
If you are just looking for beach fun, most of the islands have swimming and beach areas. Popular beach stretches include the Ambo Lagoon just off the islets of North Tarawa. There is a Lagoon Club at this beach, where you can order exotic drinks to sip on while tanning under the sun. Ambo Lagoon is also a popular place to hit up for beach volleyball, swimming, surfing, kayaking, or jet-skiing. There are a few other beach hotspots in Kiribati: the Taiwan Park and Dai-Nippon Causeway in the eastern tip of the Betio Islet in Tarawa and the Biketawa Picnic and Camping Islet in the Islet of Biketawa located in North Tarawa.
Some of the top tourist destinations of Kiribati include the capital, South Tarawa, Betio, and North Tarawa, Christmas Island (or Kiritimati), Banaba Island, Kanton Island, and Abemama. Be sure to check out as many of these places as you can.