Abaiang Island Kiribati

bngtllThe Pacific Island nation of Kiribati is not generally well known, unless you are an avid diver. The reasons for divers knowing the various islands around Kiribati is because it was a central point during the World War II War in the Pacific, and a lot of naval and air battles took place there, leaving the wrecks of many ships and planes that are still in reasonable condition and easy for divers to access.

For those not necessarily into diving, but who are searching for an out-of-the-way tropical island as a quiet, yet beautiful, hideaway, the Kiribati atoll of Abaiang may be just the perfect place.

Abaiang is part of the group known as the Gilbert Islands which broach the Equator north of New Zealand. They were once part of a British colony, although Kiribati is now an independent nation, and the people who live there are Melanesian, rather than Polynesian, who have lived on the islands for approximately 2,000 years.

The Abaiang Atoll is located close to the main island of Tarawara, and is reachable by short boat trip from the Betio, the main commercial area on Tarawara.

As with most atolls, Abaiang has a large lagoon that is fronted by some spectacular beaches. Although Abaiang is the name of the largest island in the atoll, there are about thirty small islands scattered around the lagoon.

There are two small resorts on the atoll, one of which is on Ouba Islet and the other at Teirio Beach. They are built in the traditional style with shared bathroom facilities, but are comfortable without being luxurious. Ouba Islet Resort is an eco-tourism facility which was built to minimise its impact of the local ecology.

There are also two guesthouses on Abaiang Island. Nei Nikuao Lodge, the Council-owned lodge on “Sunset Beach” at Tabontebike village on the main island.

Part of the reason why they try to preserve the ecology is because Abaiang is one place which does experience first-hand the problems associated with global warning. The people of Tebunginako village have already begun to really feel the impact of climate change. Local people are experienced in having to re-locate several times as their village becomes inundated by rising sea levels and seawater intrusion.

Abaiang was where the first Christian church was built in the Gilbert Islands, and the locals do take their Christianity very seriously. Even though the people are very laid back, they do expect visitors to respect their beliefs and traditions, particularly regarding dress standards. The villagers request that women not walk around wearing just bikinis, mini-skirts or shorts, but to moderately cover up when visiting villages.

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