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By No owner — last modified Apr 12, 2016 11:55 AM

 Kiribati - Profile

Facts

  • The Republic of Kiribati (pronounced "kiribass"), formerly the Gilbert Islands, is a group of more than 30 islands situated in the centre of the Pacific Ocean around the point where the international date line and the equator cross. Besides the 16 original Gilbert Islands, Kiribati also includes Banaba (Ocean Island), the eight Phoenix Islands, and eight of the eleven Line Islands. All of the islands are low atolls enclosing lagoons, rarely more than 12 ft (4 m) above sea level. The notable exception is Banaba, which is volcanic.
  • Kiribati's future is threatened by rising sea levels.
  • Little grows on these islands except coconut palms and not all of them are inhabited. Kiribati is very isolated, its small islands spread out over more than one million square miles of ocean.
  • Visiting this sprawling archipelago reguires careful planning. There are now Ports of Entry in each of the major groups of islands; the Line Group, the Phoenix Group and Gilbert Island Group which includes the capital, Tarawa. This makes the task easier when planning to visit more than just the northern group of islands, as the the prevailing winds and currents are from the south. Their remoteness is what makes these islands so intriguing.
  • Christmas Island (Kirimati) in particular is a convenient stopover point for boats on passage between Hawaii and French Polynesia. The site of former British nuclear tests, the island was handed over to Kiribati on that country's independence. The island is a sanctuary to millions of sea birds and access to the breeding areas is prohibited.
  • Fanning Island (Tabuaerean), only 160 miles farther north, is a typical Pacific island, clean, welcoming and self-sufficient.
  • The Line Islands, together with Washington, belong to Kiribati and their local names have been confused, and are often wrongly depicted in nautical publications. Their correct names are: Kirimati (Christmas), Fanning (Tabuaerean) and Teraina (Washington).
  • Navigational aids are not very reliable and it is reported that most atolls are without lights after midnight.
  • Most facilities available in Kiribati are concentrated on Tarawa which comprises several islands around a lagoon. Facilities on the other islands are basic with few imported goods and a limited selection of locally produced fruit and vegetables, but there is plenty of fish everywhere. Water is often scarce and can be a problem in the southern and central parts of the group.

Security

The first crime against yachts reported to noonsite was in October 2011 when 3 yachts anchored in Tarawa were broken into and burgled whilst the owners were ashore during the daytime. See report here. These crimes are the first we know about in this safe and friendly island group, however they do indicate that cruisers should be wary, in populated areas, of leaving their boats when no other occupied yachts are nearby to keep an eye on things.

Weather

Most islands have an equatorial climate, while the islands to the extreme north and south of the group are tropical. November to April is the rainy season, with high humidity and stronger winds. Rainfall is not reliable and drought can be a problem for all the islands. The prevailing easterlies keep the climate pleasant, although temperatures can be high, 80-85°F (27-29°C) on average.

Kiribati Weather Conditions

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page

Main Ports

Gilbert Islands: Tarawa (Betio Islet) *

Line Islands: Christmas Island/Kiritimati * , Fanning Island/Tabuaerean *

Phoenix Islands: Canton *

* indicates port of entry

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Paul tudor-stack
Paul tudor-stack says:
Apr 07, 2016 01:43 AM

2015 - It is not possible to obtain permission to visit any other islands before checking in at Tarawa and it is not possible to obtain permission to visit other islands after leaving Tarawa unless you intend to return to Tarawa to obtain clearance. This only refers to the the Gilbert Islands and I cannot comment on the other groups.

Paul tudor-stack
Paul tudor-stack says:
Dec 09, 2014 12:10 AM

December, 2014 - there is a port fee on departure of $50Aus. Customs requires to view your receipt before they will give you your departure clearance.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 17, 2014 02:02 PM

Posted on behalf of Sargaço from Brazil:
I remember that there was a difference +- ½ mile between our Open CPN charts and our actual location. We had that same problem in Christmas and Fanning. I wonder if other chart systems have the same problem so it is always good to be aware of that.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Sep 15, 2014 08:30 AM

Posted on behalf of SY Alita:
I tried to visit Canton Island in the Phoenix Group in September 2014. Apparently they are now aiming to become a “World Heritage Site”, so you do need a permit to sail there. I applied for and received permission, but one of the requirements would have been to carry and pay a local observer the whole time in the Phoenix Group – including the trip there!
In order to comply with this, I was asked to pay for a round trip ticket between Kiribati and Samoa for my personal observer, in addition to paying him US$ 50 each day aboard - and feeding him of course.
Needless to say I ended up not visiting the Phoenix Islands.

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