Nauru Travel Guide
Welcome to the taste2travel Nauru Travel Guide!
Date Visited: March 2020
At just 21 km2 (8.1 sq. mi), Nauru is the smallest republic in the world, being slightly larger than the 20 km2 of land which is occupied by John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.
A view of the limestone pinnacles at Anibare Bay.
A small, isolated coral island, Nauru is surrounded by a shallow, rocky, coral reef. This Pacific nation, which lies well off the beaten tourist track, lacks many of the tourist facilities of some of its larger neighbours, such as Fiji.
There are no resorts, no fancy restaurants or any decent swimming beaches. There are very few services which would cater to visiting holiday makers, although an Office of Tourism was scheduled to open at the Menen Hotel in April of 2020.
Have to love wonderful Nauru!
It’s interior plateau, which is known as ‘Topside’, occupies 80% of the island, and has been the site of unfettered phosphate mining for more than a century. This has left Topside looking like a lunar wasteland.
Exposed limestone pinnacles on Topside, the remnants of a former phosphate mine.
While current visitor numbers are not available from the United Nations World Travel Organisation (UNWTO), it is claimed that Nauru is the least visited country in the world, attracting around 200 visitors per year.
By comparison, Tuvalu (click to view my Tuvalu Travel Guide), which also claims to be the least visited country in the world, attracted 2,700 visitors in 2018, although most of these were business travellers.
A view of Anibare Bay, Nauru.
While Nauru is not your standard travel destination, it is an engaging and surprising island. This is the island which was named ‘Pleasant Island‘ by the first European visitors, after their favourable encounter with the locals. The real asset of Nauru are the Nauruans themselves, who are warm, welcoming, friendly and kind.
Nauru has plenty of potential as a tourist destination and it seems the current government is determined to develop that potential. Now is a great time to visit Nauru, before the hordes arrive.
A playground on Nauru.
Nauru is a small, oval-shaped, raised coral island, located in south-eastern Micronesia, 53 km (33 miles) south of the Equator.
Truly remote, Nauru’s closest neighbour (click the links to view my travel guides for the countries listed) is Kiribati whose most westerly island, Banaba (population: 295), lies 300 km (186 mi) to the east of Nauru.
A signboard outside of the Capelle and Partner supermarket indicates distances to different countries from Nauru.
More distant neighbours include the Solomon Islands which lies 1,300 km (800 mi) to the southwest; Tuvalu which is 1,395 km (866 mi) to the southeast; Marshall Islands which lies 973 km (605 mi) to the northeast; Papua New Guinea which is 2,628 km (1,633 mi) to the southwest; Vanuatu; which lies 1,651 km (1,026 mi) to the south and the Federated States of Micronesia which is 2,019 km (1,254 mi) to the northwest.
A view of Ewa beach, which lies on the north coast of Nauru.
A major logistical and lifestyle hub for Nauru is Brisbane, Australia which is 3,341 km (2076 mi) to the southeast.
Brisbane airport serves as a base and maintenance centre for Nauru Airlines, while wealthier Nauruans travel to Brisbane on shopping trips, send their children to tertiary institutions in the city and even maintain 2nd homes there.
Brisbane is also the location of a Nauru Consulate General (see the Visa section for more details), one of just four diplomatic missions around the world.
The only wildlife to be found on remote Nauru are the occasional migrating seabird such as Brown Noddy’s, which are a common sight on the beaches.
A map of the region of Micronesia.
The region of Micronesia lies between the Philippines and Hawaii, occupying a large patch of the Central Pacific, encompassing more than 2,000 islands, most of which are small and many of which are found in clusters.
The term Micronesia is derived from the Greek words mikros (meaning ‘small’) and nēsoi (meaning ‘islands’). The first usage of the term is attributed to Jules Dumont d’Urville, a French explorer and Naval officer who explored the region in 1832.
The region includes, from west to east, Palau, Guam (click to read my travel guides), the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Kiribati. With the exception of Nauru and Kiribati, all the islands of Micronesia lie to the north of the Equator.
Nauru holds the distinction of being the first Micronesian country to become a sovereign nation, gaining independence in 1968.
The Nauruans are a mixture of Micronesian, Polynesian and Melanesian descent.
The origin of the Nauruan people has not yet been fully determined. They are a mixture of Micronesian, Polynesian and Melanesian descent and are comprised of 12 tribes, as symbolised by the 12-pointed star on the Nauru flag (see the ‘Flag‘ section below).
The original settlers to the region were Austronesian peoples who migrated from Southeast Asia and Taiwan into present-day Micronesia around 1,500 BC.
A map showing the three distinct cultural regions of the Pacific.
From Micronesia, different migrations at different times in history took these Austronesian explorers further into the vast expanses of the Pacific ocean, where they eventually settled the islands of Melanesia (first migration around 1,300 BC) and finally the more distant islands of Polynesia (first migration around 800 BC), finally reaching the most easterly island, Easter Island, around 700 – 800 AD.
Following are a list of travel guides I have written for each of these three regions:
The children of Nauru are incredibly friendly and love posing for the camera.
The history of human activity on Nauru began roughly 3,000 years ago when twelve Micronesian and Polynesian clans settled the island. For most of its history, the tribes of Nauru enjoyed a quiet, secluded existence on their remote paradise island.
Activities included aquaculture (including operating an ancient version of a fish farm in the Buada lagoon), harvesting coconuts and savouring the occasional Brown Noddy (I was assured they are tasty).
Young girls on Nauru.
The first European contact came in November of 1798, when British Captain John Fearn, of the whaling ship ‘Hunter‘, approached the island. The crew did not land, nor did any locals board the ship, but many canoes came to welcome the ship, which left a favourable impression and resulted in Fearn naming the island, Pleasant Island.
Boys posing in front of a giant flag of Nauru which adorns the wall of the Civic centre.
As of July 2018, independent Nauru was home to 10,670 residents, making it the second least populated sovereign state, after the Vatican City which has a population of just 799 pious souls!
The Nauruans are wonderfully laid-back, relaxed, friendly and always made me feel welcome, a very pleasant island indeed!
Miss Nauru 2020
‘Miss Nauru Cenpac 2020’, Ofa Fay Temaki competing in the final evening of the competition.
My visit to Nauru coincided with the ‘Miss Nauru 2020‘ contest which saw eight contestants competing for the title of Miss Nauru 2020.
One of the judges at the Miss Nauru 2020 contest, Ms Ruby Amram.
The finale of the competition saw the contestants competing over three nights in different fashion categories, which included best sarong, white dress, traditional island couture and formal wear. They were also asked a series of questions and judged on their talent, singing ability and interview skills.
Some of the contestants represented different districts, such as Miss Yaren – Brutay Tatum.
A highlight of the Nauru cultural calendar, the final night of the competition drew a large, enthusiastic crowd, including the president, Lionel Rouwen Aingimea.
Miss Menen, My-Gem Tatum, represented the district of Meneng, which is home to the Hotel Menen.
Local performer, James Vaele, keeping the crowds entertained during the Miss Nauru 2020 competition.
There’s a small, budding music scene on tiny Nauru and during the Miss Nauru 2020 contest, the crowds were kept entertained by a local singer/ songwriter, James Vaele who has written a number of songs which are dedicated to his island home.
One of my favourite songs from James is ‘Postcard for Nauru‘, which features a catchy tune and lots of scenery from the island. You can view his YouTube video here.
Another local song, ‘Nauru Island Home‘ is also very catchy and provides more scenic views of the island.
The flag of Nauru.
The flag of Nauru illustrates the country’s geographical position, one degree south of the Equator. The gold stripe represents the equator, which is set on a blue field for the Pacific Ocean.
A flag of Nauru which is displayed in the lobby of the Menen hotel.
Below the equator, a 12-pointed, white star represents Nauru, with each point symbolising the twelve indigenous tribes which settled the island. The colour of the star is ‘Phosphate white’, representing the islands’ major resource and most important export.
The Nauru flag flying alongside the Taiwanese flag. Taiwan provides aid to the island in exchange for Nauru recognising Taiwan’s independence.
A friendly Digicel staff member at the Digicel kiosk at Capelle and Partners.
There is only one network operator on Nauru, which is not surprising for such a small market. Digicel Nauru provide excellent network coverage throughout the country, which is not too much of a challenge considering the size of the coverage area – 21 square kilometres. Digicel offer a variety of pre-paid plans, which you can view on their website.
The best option for those arriving by air (which is everyone), is to purchase a local SIM card from the friendly staff at the Digicel kiosk at the International Airport. The kiosk is staffed whenever a flight arrives.
The main branch of Digicel is located at the Civic Centre and is open from 9 am – 6 pm Monday to Friday and 9:30 am – 2:00 pm on Saturdays.
A Digicel kiosk is also available inside the supermarket at Capelle & Partners in Ewa.
While staying at the Menen Hotel, I enjoyed good, free, Wi-Fi. Elsewhere on the island, Wi-Fi is hard to find.
The Australian dollar is the official currency of Nauru.
The official currency of Nauru is the Australian dollar (A$), which trades under the internat