While Yaren might feel like the real capital city of Nauru, nearby Aiwo stakes a claim for the country’s busiest “city”. Well it’s nothing more than a village of course, yet at the same time it’s a hub of activity and also the name of the Province. This is basically as busy as it gets for Nauru. You might even struggle to get a parking space at peak times!
In fact, with Yaren and Boe both also being provinces in Nauru, a mere two minute walk can take you from Yaren, then into Boe and ending up in Aiwo. This country is a whackpacker’s paradise.
Aiwo also offers a rare chance as a tourist to walk to your hotel from the airport. The Od N Aiwo Hotel is about a 10minute dander from Nauru International Airport. Ignore the myths about Nauru. As well as backpacking through Meneng, Boe, Yaren, Anetan, Ewa and Ronave, here are the must-sees when touring Aiwo.
1.Aiwo Post Office
For stamp and postcard geeks like myself, Aiwo Post Office is the best (and seemingly only) place in the country to buy stamps and postcards and send them home.
They have a decent range of postcards and stamps here. Ask at the counter, as they’re not on display.
2.Nauru National Football Stadium
The national sport of Nauru is Australian Rules Football, usually referred to as AFL (Australian Football League).
The biggest, and therefore national stadium is here in Aiwo, just off the main drag.
Nauru is not registered with FIFA and is therefore one of few UN recognised countries without an international football team.
3.Cenpacnet Internet Cafe
When backpacking the Pacific Islands, forget about internet and Wi-fi.
If you get really desperate, head to Nauru Internet cafe which still doesn’t have WiFi but you can pay 3$ Australian Dollars for an hour of using their laptop to surf the internet, slowly. And I mean slowly. It took me 8 minutes to get BBC to load.
What’s worse is you can’t use your own phone or laptop. This meant for me I couldn’t check emails, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter as I didn’t know my passwords!! I suddenly realised they were all automatic on my laptop and phone.
4.Od N Aiwo Hotel
There are not too many obvious hotels in Nauru. We stayed at the Hotel Menen in Meneng district. We also saw the Hotel Budapest and the Ewa Lodge.
However, this place, the Of N Aiwo Hotel is possibly the best hotel in the country. A great location within walking distance from the airport. It has two bars that are open (unlike the crackaday Reef “It’s never open” Bar at the Menen Hotel).
The food was also good here. I twice ate Chinese dishes. Apart from Coconut Fish (admittedly rather delicious), Nauru doesn’t have much in the way of national cuisine. Hell brewers, it doesn’t even have its own beer!
As well as a brace of bars, the Od N Aiwo Hotel also houses the country’s biggest gambling complex – two adjoined rooms with fruit machines.
Sadness and madness all at once are the remains of the phosphate era. Nauru was phosphate rich back in the 1970s and this could and should have been one of the world’s richest countries.
Sadly those days are gone and it’s now a country struggling to get by, with a recent history of refugees and Australian ex convicts residing here now.
6.Nauru Olympic Headquarters
For a small country, Nauru had its fair share of world champions, mostly in weightlifting. They have won a medal at every Commonwealth Games they entered.
Nauruans take part in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, if not yet football.
We are not in Nauru to go shopping of course but here in Aiwo, it the country’s joint biggest supermarket.
I say “joint biggest” as to me it is the same size as the supermarket in Ronave. It’s nothing to write home about but still worth a short visit.
For decent coffee, there are actually only two good cafes in the entire country. I backpacked both.
The Tropicana Cafe in Ronave was the best, but a close runner up goes to Container Cafe in Aiwo.
For me, the church in Aiwo is the nicest looking church in the country.
Finally, and already kind of included is the Civic Centre. This large building complex comprises the Internet Cafe, Supermarket, Post Office, Container Cafe, Olympic Centre and many other shops and offices.
As well as these sights, there are views over the Pacific Ocean, an outdoor hall and a few restaurants in Aiwo, Nauru.
Here are some videos from my time backpacking in Aiwo province, Nauru: