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 Christmas Island/Kiritimati - Profile

Location

Kiritimati (sometimes Christmas Island) is a Pacific Ocean raised coral atoll in the northern Line Islands, and part of the Republic of Kiribati.

The name "Kiritimati" is a rather straightforward respelling of the English word "Christmas" in the Kiribati language.

The island has the greatest land area of any coral atoll in the world, about 388 square kilometres, its lagoon is roughly the same size. Abundant in wildlife and very popular with bone fisherman, Kiritimati is very beautiful and very isolated.

Position 01° 59.08'N 157° 28.83'W (anchorage)

Clearance

See Kiribati Formalities for full details on clearing into and out of Kiribati.

On approach, call Marine Radio Christmas Island (Tango 3 Charlie) on VHF 16 to arrange clearance. Be advised that is is normally only manned Mon-Fri in business hours.

Officials will want to come to your boat for inward clearance (you will have to collect them in your dinghy from the commercial pier). They prefer to be picked up from the beach facing the outside anchorage in very calm conditions (even although there could be a swell). It is better to transport them in one's own dinghy as a high price will be demanded for the launch service. Do not go ashore until official clearance is obtained. Penalties apply.

Be sure to arrive with a zarpe from your last port of call (or you will be fined) and do not arrive at weekends as you will be charged double for overtime.

The Customs, Immigration and quarantine offices are all close together in town (called London). Bear in mind however that there are no taxis or hire cars and the local bus service is very erratic, so you will need to plan ahead when checking out.

There is no real telephone system here in Kiritimati, so most use VHF radio to communicate.

Firearms are taken ashore and locked up at the police station until departure.

Last updated August 2018.

Rainbow Enterprise (Lagoon View Hotel)
Tel:95093 ,VHF Channel 67
Timei & Tima are a very helpful couple who run this small hotel just north of the anchorage. Can advise on laundry, provisioning etc. Happy to make contact with cruisers.

Docking

The pass into the lagoon is difficult to locate and can get silted up. Also note that many surveys are out of date and the sand bars have moved.

There is a small boat harbour in London, which in calm weather may have space for shallow draft vessels.

The best anchorage (GPS 1°59.08'N 157°28.83'W) is west of London, the main settlement, just off the tennis and basketball court, which is occasionally lit at night.

Try to find a sandy patch to anchor in, good light helps.

Cruisers also recommend anchoring off the Copra Harbour (see comment at bottom of page).

Whilst anchoring off the village/oil depot is more sheltered from the swell (in particular a southerly swell), the anchorage off the pier is more convenient for getting ashore.

Anchoring in anything less than 10 metres of water is not advisable as it could place you in the surf zone if winds and sea state were to change. The anchorage is open to winter swells from the north and west and swells may arrive without any warning. In January 2004 surf with face heights in excess of 30 feet was reported in the anchorage by a local yacht.

The commercial pier is rather rickety and there is no longer a floating platform for dinghies. There is however a ladder on the north side of the pier but it is missing a few steps at the bottom. Dinghies can be tied up here. There is shallow coral around the shoreline, so beaching the dinghy is not recommended.

Last updated June 2018.

fleuraustrale
fleuraustrale says:
Jun 13, 2018 02:36 AM

We visited Kiritimati in April and June 2018. We found good holding in sand 50-60' of water just NW of the copra pier, but the bottom is patchy - it was helpful to have good light when anchoring to find the sand patch.
We agree that anchoring in 30' of water is probably pushing it in terms of swell. The anchorage off the village/Oil depot is more sheltered from swell (especially S swell) than the anchorage at the pier, but easier to get on and off the island at the pier.
Timei & Tima at Rainbow Enterprise (also called Lagoon View Hotel) were very helpful in arranging transport for us, as well as tracking down various government officials when we were trying to clear out and they were not in their offices.
It would be do-able to enter the lagoon and go to the london small boat harbor with a shallow draft vessel in the conditions we encountered (with good light and careful pilotage), but weather was fairly mellow during our visit.
Most of the shoreline would be tough to beach a soft-bottomed dinghy on due to shallow coral, so we used the KPA pier and ladder to get on and off the island.

Alita
Alita says:
Dec 12, 2017 04:42 AM

Updates Dec 2017:
- Timei & Tima are still around and still very helpful with all matters that may arise. They are now listening only on VHF Ch 67
- Marine Radio Christmas Island (Ch 16) seems to be operational only weekdays during business hours after 9am
- The authorities were really friendly and good humored. They wanted to be picked up from the beach facing the outside anchorage in very calm conditions, but still with a two to three foot swell. For the five(!!!!!) of them we made two trips each way, they all got soaking wet and took it with a laugh.
- The ladder on the north side of the commercial pier is freshly painted but missing a few steps at the bottom. It's doable if you have good footing and are not afraid of heights.
- The island now has cell phone service and SIM cards are available for $3 - weekly data from $5. The net however is reeeaaallly slow and erratic - it only becomes usable late at night and early mornings.
- We might have been here at a bad time weather wise, but make sure to anchor well offshore. I'd say 10 meters of depth is pushing your luck unnecessarily. The wreck of a Beneteau 50, which is now a monument in front of Timei's guesthouse, is a good reminder. Swell picked up and beached the yacht while the crew was ashore.
- Anchoring inside the lagoon is no option in the conditions we encountered - unless you are a very, very shallow draft catamaran (maybe). The surveys are outdated and shifting sand bars are hidden by milky waters, stirred up by gusty winds, cross seas and tidal currents. We only draw 3 feet with the center blade up, but didn't even consider for a moment to chance going all the way around into the small boat harbor east of London, which is the only good place inside. In the deeper parts of the lagoon we still had rollers from the sea (occasionally breaking) and a surprisingly high wind wave against it - very uncomfortable.
- Going into the small boat harbor by dinghy is a long and wet ride if the winds are up. Also make sure to watch the tidal current in the passage to the lagoon closely! In an outgoing current the ocean swells suddenly start breaking in relatively deep water and can get you into trouble!

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 14, 2014 03:57 PM

Posted on behalf of Alexandre Marques de Azevedo of SY Sargaço from Brazil:
A good tip is to anchor in front of the “copra” harbor and call our friends Timei & Tima (you pronounce it Simei and Sima because Ti = S).
You can call on channel 23, phone 95093, e-mail timeitima@gmail.com, or just look for them 300 meters north bound from the harbor (they agree to give their contact to all sailors).
They are wonderful people. They run a small hotel business named “Rainbow Entreprise”, but they are very happy to help boat people just for the pleasure to share time together and help people. They helped us very much with the authorities even though it is not their business, and it was very, very helpful. They helped us with internet, laundry, supermarket etc. I tried to pay for the service but they absolutely did not accept.
Timei & Tima have a kind of generosity and sympathy that we do not find very easily these days.
It is also a good idea to avoid arriving on weekends because the authorities try to charge 100% extra. And bring a “clear out” document (Zarpe) otherwise they will fine you. Yes, people are very nice but authorities are not nice at all!
We realy liked a place named Paris!
Enjoy!!!!

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