Honeymoon in Kiribati

An idyllic honeymoon in the Pacific Ocean...

Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) is an independent republic within the Commonwealth of Nations, located in the central Pacific Ocean, about 4,000 km (about 2,500 mi) southwest of Hawaii. It is part of the division of the Pacific islands that is known as Micronesia. Kiribati consists of 33 coral islands divided among three island groups: the Gilbert Islands, the Phoenix Islands, and the Line Islands.

All of the islands are atolls (ring-shaped islands with central lagoons) except for the island of Banaba in the Gilbert Islands which is a raised limestone Island. Of the 33 islands of Kiribati, 21 are inhabited. Most of the population is concentrated in the Gilbert Islands and only one of the islands in Phoenix Group (Kanton Island) is inhabited and three of the Line Islands are permanently inhabited. The capital of Kiribati is Tarawa, an atoll in the Gilbert Islands. Bairiki, an islet of Tarawa, serves as an administrative center.

Land and Water

Kiribati has a total land area of 811 sq km (313 sq mi). The islands extend about 3,900 km (about 2,400 mi) from east to west. From north to south they extend about 2,100 km (about 1,300 mi), straddling the equator. Kiritimati (also called Christmas Island), one of the Line Islands, occupies 609 sq km (235 sq mi) and has the largest land area of any atoll in the world. Kiribati’s exclusive economic zone (area of the ocean in which it controls fishing and other rights) covers more than 3 million sq km (more than 1 million sq miles).

The majority of the atolls are barely more than six meters above sea level and surrounded by barrier reefs creating picturesque lagoons for fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming and other water sports. Professional scuba diving guides are available on Christmas Island, Fanning Island and Tarawa.

Time Zones

Prior in 1994, the eastern and western islands groups were on either side of the International Dateline with a 23-hour time difference between them. The President of Kiribati at that time decided to move the dateline for convenience which attributed a 2 hour difference between Islands in the Gilbert Islands Group and the (Line and Phoenix) Islands Group. This also marked Kiribati to become the first nation to see in the Third Millennium and Caroline was renamed Millennium Island to celebrate the occasion during the year 2000.

Kiribati is 12 hours ahead of GMT - 2 hours ahead of Tokyo and 22 hours ahead of Honolulu, on the other side of the international dateline.

Kiribati Culture

To experience our culture and lifestyle will be a memory you will have for the rest of your life. The culture of Kiribati is complex and diverse, with each island having its own unique ways. Though a living body, many people remain true to the century old traditions and practices that define what it means to be I-Kiribati.

Cultural practices such as community meetings under the maneaba (traditional meeting house) to socialize and feast (a botaki), respect of elderly people, guest hospitality and importance of family remain important facets in the culture of Kiribati.

We warmly welcome visitors in many of our customs and activities, and are proud of our way of life and its celebration. The way of living is very simple and people plan their living for one day only, without worrying about their future, living with the motto “Tomorrow is another day”. Survival revolves around strength, motivation and ambition to live within that particular day. Daily lives revolve around the rise and fall of the tide, dictating fishing conditions and timing and availability of transport. Sustenance is from the coconut and breadfruit trees, and the ocean.

The traditional dances of Kiribati are a unique form of art and expression. The movement of the feet, hands and of course the whole body imitates the movement of the frigate birds while walking and flying. The costumes are made out of local materials. The frigate bird symbolizes many important things in the traditional living context of the I-Kiribati. It provides navigation to fishermen while lost at sea, provides weather information for the people and also gives a sign of peace and harmony.

Visitors can experience I-Kiribati culture in many shapes and forms. However we do recommend the best way is to take the plunge and live on an outer island for a week and to immerse you fully in our daily culture. To plan such a visit we have included a number of suggested itineraries that can help you, as well as a number of fact files on many of Kiribati’s outer islands.

Collecting sweet toddy from the coconut treeMen dancing in the ManeabaDrying salt fish in the sun

Things to do

There are many adventures to be had on and around the islands that make up the nation of Kiribati. In a nation with the biggest water to land ratio in the world, water is a dominant feature in the lives of the I-Kiribati, and for all visitors.

Fishing is world class - centered on Kiritimati (Christmas) Island, one of the few places in the world you can saltwater fly fish, for the mighty fighting bone fish! The deeper waters around Kiritimati and the Gilbert Islands are also great places for record breaking game fishing.

For those looking for some culture, there is plenty to see and do around the island. Culture in Kiribati is still very uncommodified - the best way to experience a relatively untouched culture is to take a domestic flight or ferry across to an outer island and meet the ever friendly local people. If you come at the right time of year you may also be able to witness local celebrations, in religious holidays such as Easter or Christmas; or national celebrations such as Kiribati Independence. If you would like to take a bit of the culture home with you, there are amazing handicrafts for sale, still made the traditional way .

The Gilbert group of islands host a number of World War II historical sites. Tarawa, Makin (now called Butaritari), Abemama (also the ocean island of Banaba) were invaded by the Japanese in 1941, just after they bombed Pearl Harbor. After the Japanese fortified the atolls, in 1942 and 1943 US Marines conducted a number of large scale raids to remove the Japanese presence. Today, relics of the battles and forts can be visited.

Kiribati is also host to the Phoenix group of islands - including the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), the world's largest marine protected area. For bird lovers, this area hosts nesting and feeding grounds for 19 species of wild sea birds. For those that like to be underwater, a vast playground hosting a rich diversity of fish (509 identified species) and other marine life (mammals, sharks, invertebrates, plant life) in plentiful numbers in windward, leeward and lagoon habitats.

Kiribati Ladies dancingIf you like to be on top of the water, there are amazing surf breaks off Fanning island.

We also have a number of tours and other outdoor activities - if you're in Kiribati on business or just wanting to explore, there is a range of day and weekend package tours available. Why not let others organize the schedule, and let a local show you around!


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