Nauru is one of the world’s smallest countries, consisting of a coral atoll about 8 square miles. This island nation is located in the Micronesia region in the South Pacific near Kiribati. Nauru’s population is about 13,000, so small that it doesn’t even need or see fit to establish an official capital, although this designation unofficially belongs to its largest city, Yaren. Nauru is a sad picture of a once-tropical haven ravaged by over-aggressive phosphate mining. But on the plus side, Nauru’s tropical weather, stretches of sandy beach, colorful reefs, and opportunities for deep-sea fishing make it somewhat serviceable as a travel destination.
Nauru was first settled by the Polynesians and Micronesians some 3000 years ago. British Captain, John Fearn, was the first European to discover the island in 1798. In the 1900s, extensive phosphate fields in Nauru were found occupying about 90% of the island. A German-British consortium began mining the island before it was captured by the Australians during WWI. After the war, it was handed over to the British to administer. The Japanese occupied the island during WWII, but the administration of the island was returned to the British after the war. Nauru finally achieved independence in 1968.
For the last century, the lion’s share of the Nauru economy has been based on mining phosphate. The mining has placed Nauruans at one of the highest per capita incomes of any Third World country. Unfortunately, the deposits have not only created a wasteland of white rock and deep pits, but it has also damaged some of the island’s ecology and killed some of the marine life as a result of phosphate and silt run off. Moreover, the present economic situation of Nauru is dire. The funds from mining have been mismanaged and the phosphate deposits are virtually depleted. Nauru has resorted to other means of generating revenue, including servicing as Australia’s offshore detention center for asylum seekers in exchange for extra aid.
Nauru offers sandy beaches and a colorful coral reef system. Besides swimming and suntanning, other possible activities include sportfishing and deep-sea fishing, especially in Yaren and the Anibare Bay area. There are various fish species, including the Yellowfin, Skipjack tuna, Barracuda, Marlin, Mahi Mahi, and Wahoo. Unfortunately, diving in Nauru is not ideal or recommended. While the reef is full of diverse marine life, the shores are rather rocky and thus unsuitable.
There are a few WWII remains in Nauru that are worth checking out. The Command Ridge at Nauru’s highest point is where the Japanese kept watch during the war. You’ll find rusted artillery and weapons as well as a communication bunker at the Command Ridge. The Former Presidents’ House is another notable site in Nauru. It was burned down in 2001 by a mob of residents upset at the government’s mismanagement of funds accumulated over the years from phosphate mining.
The best time to visit Nauru is between March to October. The climate is always hot and humid any time of the year, but the monsoon season hits during the winter time from November to February.