“Here is a sunrise, ain’t that enough?” – Teenage Fanclub.
A bar that never opens yet pretends it does, a sh*t AFL pitch and a church with broken windows. Yes these were the highlights from whackpacking through Meneng Province in Nauru.
Nauru as an island and country is split into 14 provinces. Meneng is the province that we slept in, at one of the country’s three hotels. Meneng is also spelt Menen, as our hotel was the Hotel Menen. We spent 8 cumulative days on Nauru (5 full days) and were able to explore and visit all 14 of the provinces, and all 19 villages. It’s pretty easy to do that even in a 24 hour stint.
We walked the whole island in 8 hours, at a leisurely pace which also included 2 rain delay stops, lunch, dinner and a sneaky afternoon beer at Ronave. I have written already about Yaren (the capital city), Boe, Anibare, Ewa, Anetan and Ronave. I doubt I’ll have time to write about the top sights in all 14 of the provinces in Nauru, but here are Meneng’s highlights.
1.Meneng AFL Stadium
The national sport of Nauru is…wait for it…Australian Rules Football, usually referred to as simply AFL (Australian Football League). Most districts have a pitch as they have an inter island league. Here, the Meneng Stadium is a little bit worse for wear but it has a stand for spectators to watch and is right by the main road. Fans in this area support St. Kilda, and there are a few St. Kilda murals and flags around.
It’s simply not in a great condition, and there was a lot of rubbish by the pitchside, lack of investment has had a bad effect on Nauru’s economy.
The main gym in Meneng is a gym with a difference. It was so uncommercial, and with no membership fee or entrance door. You just walk in and lift weights!
Nauru has had its fair share of champions down the years and has entered Olympics, Commonwealth Games and many other international sports tournaments in weightlifting. In fact, per capita (i.e. comparing success with number of inhabitants) Nauru holds the record for gold medals in the history of the Commonwealth Games and they win at least one medal every tournament.
Meneng has a small church worth checking out. The cross is noticeably small and there is a nice stained glass window. However Meneng as a district has seen better days and the state of the church reflects this with rubble on the floor and cracked windows.
Still, Meneng Church has a weekly service and it’s an important reminder of the power of God on Nauru.
4.The Reef Bar
Alcohol and bars on the island of Nauru are few and far between. Meneng actually boasts three places that you can purchase alcohol in. However, don’t expect a bar crawl or anything like that – all three places are part of the Menen Hotel! Two of them are bars – The Menen Hotel Restaurant Bar and this one – The Reef Bar. The other is a carryout alcohol shop.
However, the staff were not good at this hotel and I rarely criticise hotels or customer services, but they lied. We arrived on a Sunday and they promised the bar closed only on Sundays, then they decided it would be closed every night so I had to fake having a beer there. Management refused to open the door even for a photo opportunity, showing that tourism here really is not wanted. If you are luckier than me and get into the Reef Bar (it was closed on all 5 nights we were there), then well done…
5.Meneng Beach (by the Pacific Ocean)
We watched sunset nightly over the beaches at Meneng, it was easy to do this as our hotel sits on the rocks and beach. You can go in for a swim without being scared of sharks.
Also, surfing is available here too.
There are a few murals in Nauru, many of them surprisingly artistic. This province of Meneng has a few, check them out as you walk around the island.
For fans of AFL, Meneng is a staunchly hardcore St. Kilda supporting province and you will see flags, murals and pictures of the team and its logo on your walk around, including a prominent one inside the AFL Stadium.
I have to include our hotel here as a main sight! No visit to Meneng should neglect a complex this size! The Menen Hotel is huge and within its compounds there is a shop, an ATM, an alcohol shop, a restaurant and of course the Reef Bar.
We spent five nights here, I shared with Douglas from Hong Kong and we were in room 249.
Finally the cemetery as a sight, it’s on the main road just past the church.
Here are some more photos from my time backpacking in Meneng, Nauru.
I was in Nauru on the Least Visited Countries Tour with Young Pioneer Tours, which can be booked on that link.
Here are some videos I made in while backpacking in Meneng, Nauru: