Kiribati – North Tarawa

Monday, 27 November 2017

▲ Having looked around crowded South Tarawa it was time to move to uncrowded North Tarawa. The road that runs from one end of South Tarawa (Betio) all the way to the other end (the airport at Bairiki) continues a bit further and then crosses a bridge to Buota, the first island of North Tarawa. The 30km of beautiful new road along South Tarawa finishes at the bridge and a few km further so does the road.

▲ If the tide is low you can wade across the channel separating Buota from Abatao, I even saw motorcycles being ridden across at really low tide.

▲ But when the tide is up a boat shuttles between the two islands, at the bargain fare of 50 cents Australia.

▲ On Abatao it’s only a few steps to Tabon Te Keekee Eco Lodge, the little family resort on the southeast tip of the island. There are just three comfortable buai on the shore and two more offshore.

▲ They’re not quite as lux as a Maldives or French Polynesian overwater bungalow, but at A$110 including breakfast and dinner they’re not as expensive either!

▲ Let’s be honest, they’re not lux at all, but the sunset down the lagoon is as good as you could ask for.

▲ You can laze around, swim in the channel when the tide’s up, visit the nearby clam farm and boat building operation or rent a bicycle and head off down the island. This is about as busy as the ‘main road’ gets. From Abatao a slightly crumbling concrete bridge carries you across to the next island, Tabiteuea.

▲ From Tabiteuea at low tide it’s easy to wade across to Tabuki, or is it Tabiang, the maps I’ve got (and Google Maps and Google Earth) aren’t very clear and I suspect Tabuki, with its empty looking resort, is an appendage to Tabiang? Anyway the Broken Bridge here is very clearly broken, why hasn’t it been attended to?

The next channel looks deeper, but in fact isn’t that deep although I leave the bike behind to wade across to Nabeina. It’s not a very long island and the wider channel at the end to Bikenabati looks like it would be easy to cross. Just offshore here is Biketawa Islet, supposedly a picnic excursion spot from South Tarawa. I reckon if you crossed to Bikenabati and could make the next crossing you’d soon find yourself on long Abaokoro and could continue all the way to the north end of Tarawa. With a good bicycle and some time that would be an interesting 40km excursion and there are a number of low key accommodation options along the way if you had to overnight.