“Although we view the world through different eyes, we share the same ideals, of paradise” – Pet Shop Boys.
Kiribati (formerly the Gilbert Islands) can be confusing. It certainly confused me, the fact that I would officially land here three times (same as Nauru!) on the one trip, yet only visit it once, i.e. leave the airport and see some of the country. We toured a few islands in the Tarawa Atoll, some of which were now joined by funding-built causeways (e.g. Stewart Causeway, Anderson Causeway).
In Kiribati, we toured Bairiki (where we stayed), Betio (which was a big city and had lots of Japanese war history) and Bikenibeu (which houses the country’s main museum and cultural centre), as well as a few other islands and small villages. One of the highlights was getting a small boat over to the island of Abatao, also interestingly known as New Jerusalem. This is nothing short of a paradise, believe you me.
Rather than whack out a top backpacking sights in Abatao, here are just a few of the things that we did there and that you can do. It’s worth a day here for sure, but there is also accommodation in case you want to spend a night here. You can stay at Tabon Te Keekee Eco Lodge.
Get the Boat Across to Abatao
It costs a mere 50 cents (Kiribati cents are pegged to the Australian Dollar). You leave the island and village of Buota and arrive at New Jerusalem, Abatao.
Walk Across to Abatao
At low tide, you can also just walk across! Guy from our group was the only one that did this. I wasn’t feeling great that day otherwise, I would probably have also walked it.
Hire a hut on the Pacific Ocean
It costs $50 US to hire a hut on the Pacific Ocean for a day (not overnight to sleep in). These are straw wooden huts, overhanging the ocean wooden stilts. They are something out of the textbook Maldives photo shoot. Our group had 7 in it, so together we hired the hut. You hire them from the friendly staff at Tabon Te Keekee Eco Lodge. Officially you could argue they are in the Tarawa Atoll and not on the actual Pacific Ocean, but no – for me – the entire water area here is the Pacific Ocean.
Hire a hut on Abatao Island
It costs $30 US to Hire a hut on Abatao Island for $30 US for a day (not overnight to sleep in), these are cheaper as they don’t overhand the ocean.
Have a Barbecued Lunch
We had a barbecued lunch here which included great fish, some chicken, rice, pumpkin and kebab sticks.
Chill with a coffee or beer
Unfortunately they had no coffee and for once, I didn’t have a beer here. Oddly I went for a Coke! But the fridge at Tabon Te Keekee Eco Lodge has beer if you want it.
Swim in the Pacific Ocean
This was a must for me. I have swam or dipped into the Pacific in Los Angeles (Mexico), Eneko Island (Marshall Islands), Barra del Santiago (El Salvador) and Panama City (Panama) so I had to do it also here.
Walk around Abatao Island
I used my day on Abatao as a lazy day to relax. I took advantage of our hut and had an afternoon nap here. But a few members of our group decided to go touring. They saw a pre school and a clam farm, photos courtesy of Pier.
Visit the Clam Farm
An Australian guy runs a Clam Farm here and it costs $10 AUD for a quick tour and brief. Some of our tour group did it, including Pier our leader – here are a few photos.
Apart from this, you can watch the sunset, chill out and observe the fishermen and women busy at work. The whole point of it for me was to relax here, it was nothign short of a paradise.
I was on the Least Visited Countries Tour with Young Pioneer Tours and our guide was Molly Brown, well recommended. Please note you will need a car to visit all these places – you drive and stop off at various points. Molly is well recommended, please book her here –
P: (686) 73001016
Here are some videos from my time touring Abatao in North Tarawa, Kiribati: