South Tarawa is the capital of Kiribati, a scattered group of islands in Micronesia. The capital’s island, Tarawa, lacks the luxury of other island destinations like Hawaii or Tahiti, but there are few places on Earth with a friendlier population. The capital itself historically significant, vibrant and friendly.
Best Time to Visit
The best times to visit Kiribati are the months from March through October.
Top Places to Visit in and near South Tarawa
1. Christmas Island
Known as Kiritimati Island in the local tongue (which translates to the same thing), Christmas Island is the largest landmass of the archipelago and the world’s largest coral atoll. It is all wildlife sanctuary, strewn with ponds and animals. Visitors mainly come for the scuba diving (shipwrecks and coral) and fishing, as well as to view huge colonies of birds. Cruises pull in at London, the main settlement and port. There’s also an airport on the island.
2. Ambo Lagoon Club
The Lagoon Club on Ambo Island in South Tarawa is one of the top options for fun in the Gilbert group, especially if you have kids. There are all sorts of water-based activities, including a swimming pool and lagoon along with a meeting house and bar.
Local handicrafts are available throughout South Tarawa, and most are made by women. The local ladies traditionally wear colorful tops called “tibuta,” and you can purchase them or learn how to make your own through the Catholic Women’s Association.
Restaurants in South Tarawa
Restaurants are few and far between in South Tarawa, and Western-style products are generally limited. There are a handful of places in town where you can feast on the Kiribati staples of fresh fish and rice. Try the local sashimi that comes straight from the ocean to your plate, then follow it with a “toddy,” a traditional drink made from coconut tree sap. The sweet drink is a favorite of the locals, and it has even been turned into a syrup used to top ice cream and sweet buns.