Visiting Outer Islands - Gilbert and Line Group of Atolls

The real Kiribati takes place away from the main population centres of Tarawa and Kiritimati Island (Christmas Island). A visit to one of the 17 Outer Islands in either the Line or Gilbert groups is a fascinating experience with the local community.

The communities of these Outer Islands live a simple subsistence lifestyle where fishing and cutting copra is the main occupation. A visit to these Islands will develop an appreciation for the traditional Kiribati lifestyle and how to get by without the mod cons of everyday society. The atolls isolation has meant that each has developed their own traditions and rituals which you will experience hopefully on your arrival.

What is a trip to an Outer Island Likely to Have In Store for You

  • Tour the island on the back of the truck visiting the local shrines, leaving Irish Cake (tobacco) as your gift to the island spirits
  • Hear the stories of the old men of the island
  • Hire a motor bike and explore the island
  • Swim in the lagoon and beaches
  • Walk through the villages and play with the kids who will swam after you
  • Visit the local schools for an insider’s view of schooling in this environment
  • Enjoy the hospitality of the local villagers who look after you in the guest houses

These coral atolls are set around a deep lagoon and reef edge and are on average only 50-100 meters wide. Accommodation on the atolls is provided by island councils, one of the churches or schools, and in a few instances private operators.

Island Guest Houses

Island Guest Houses tend to be a combination of local style housing called Buias or Kiakias, and budget style, simple rooms. The guest house facilities vary from island to island and you are leaving the modern conveniences behind. Air-conditioning and mobile phones will be a thing of the past as will all day electricity and hot showers. Often the island guest houses are one of the few forms of income the Outer Island communities have. If you are concerned about what is available please Included in the rate of most guest houses are all meals which are served in the guest house common room. If you have any special needs you will need to take these supplies with you, along with a good supply of personal bottled water. Meals will generally consist of fish, chicken and rice.

Gilbert Group

  • Abaiang

  • Arorae

  • Kuria

  • Onotoa

  • Beru

  • Maiana

  • Nikunau

  • Tabiteuea

  • Aranuka

  • Tamana

Line Group

  • Tabuaeran (Fanning Island)

  • Teraina (Washington Island)

Organising a Trip to the Outer Islands

Assistance in booking Outer Island adventure can be obtained from Kiribati Holidays and the Kiribati National Tourism Office.

You are also able to book directly with the guest houses and also book your flights direct with either Coral Sun or Air Kiribati.

Getting There

Click here for more information on getting to and from the Outer Island of the Gilbert Group.

Getting Around

Most guest houses will have access to a truck or motorcycles to get around and explore. These can usually be arranged through the guest house or the local council. If you elect to take the back of truck tour you will need to cover the costs of fuel, truck hire and the driver’s time. You will need to negotiate these prices up front.

Locals will be happy to hire you their bikes for the duration of your stay – just ask around and someone will be sure to help you out. Make sure you sort out the price and the fuel price up front

A few things to Help You Plan

  • Health facilities on the islands and generally limited to an island clinic – it is recommended that you take the usual medical supplies with you in case of an emergency
  • There are no banking facilities on the islands – everything will be cash (Australian dollars)
  • Take a good supply of bottled water with you and any of the treats you will need over the weekend
  • Alcohol is not available for sale on many of the islands
  • There can, from time to time, be delays with flights to and from Outer Islands. Please ensure you allow for this in your travel plans
  • It is traditional to leave an offering of Irish Cake at each of the Shrines for the spirits. This is available at the airport before you leave.
  • Some islands are more used to seeing visitors than others and as a result some will be more organised in terms providing activities – you will need to go with the flow.
  • In most outer islands airport tax used to collect during check in and is compulsory for all passengers - airport tax range from $15 - $20 depend to each island coucil
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