Kiribati is an independent republic which forms part of the Commonwealth of Nations and is located in the Central Pacific Ocean at about 4000 km southwest of Hawaii. It is also part of the Pacific islands that are known as the Micronesia. Kiribati is an archipelago which consists of 33 coral islands that are divided into 3 distinct groups: Gilbert Islands, Phoenix Islands and Line Islands. When the archipelago was still under the British rule, it was known as the Gilbert Islands. Most of the islands of Kiribati archipelago are ring-shaped coral atolls with central lagoons, on the exception of Banaba, one of Gilbert island group which is a raised limestone island. Of the 33 islands, only 21 of them are inhabited and most of the population of Kiribati is concentrated in the Gilbert island group. Of the other island groups, only Kanton Island in the Phoenix group is inhabited and 3 islands in the Line groups are permanently inhabited. The capital city of the archipelago is called Tarawa; it is an atoll in the Gilbert Islands. The archipelago is surrounded by a turquoise blue lagoon that barely rises above the vast Pacific Ocean. The inhabitants in the area subsist on coconuts, breadfruits and the numerous fish as they have done for centuries before. A visit in the archipelago is like having a voyage to the past, even on the main island in Tarawa, you can still see most of the locals in their traditional raised thatched huts. However, the Western influence is increasing gradually in forms of cars, bars, movies and even internet; this creates inevitably an escalating urban drift from the outer islands to Tarawa.
During a yacht charter trip in the area, you will rapidly discover that the pace of life in the Kiribati archipelago is very slow. Nothing happens fast in the area, so it is advised to slow down, relax and enjoy living in the island time. Kiribati is also as a an excellent cruising ground for many sailors, and this is also due to the fact that the archipelago is dotted with the biggest water to land ratio in the world, and that it is also a dominant feature in the lives of all the I-Kiribati (the locals) and also a major attractions for most of its visitors. Most of the islands are specialized in any one of the water activities that the region offers. During a visit, you can enjoy some world-class fishing on Christmas island, which is also one of the few places in the world you can saltwater fly fish, for the mighty fighting bone fish! The deeper waters around Kiritimati and the Gilbert Islands are also great places for record breaking game fishing. The Phoenix Islands is renowned in the area to host the Phoenix Islands Protected Area which is one of the World’s largest marine protected area. It is a diver’s paradise which hosts a fantastic underwater world; the vast playground is home to a very rich diversity of fish (at about 509 identified species) and some other marine life including mammals, sharks, invertebrates and a colorful plant life. On the Phoenix island group, you will also have the opportunity to enjoy some spectacular bird watching as the area also hosts numerous nestling and feeding grounds for over 19 species of wild sea birds.
If you are more interested in the cultural heritage of the area, there are also numerous places to see and to do around all of the islands. Culture in the area is still much uncommodified for mass touristic visit. The best way to experience a relatively untouched culture is to visit all the inhabited outer islands and get in touch with the friendly local people. If by chance, you visit Kiribati at the right time during the year, you may come across and be able to witness the local celebrations and enjoy the festivities during the religious holidays like Easter or Christmas. Yacht charterers will also have the opportunity to discover the traditional dances of Kiribati which is a unique form of art and expression in their culture. The movements of the feet, hands and the whole body imitate the movements of the frigate birds. The frigate bird symbolizes many important things in the traditional living context of the I-Kiribati. It provides navigation to the fishermen while lost at sea and provides weather information for the people and also gives a sign of peace and harmony. Sailing towards Gilbert Island, you will come across the capital city of Tarawa, where you will also find a large number of historical sites especially the World War II historical site. You can visit the relics of the battles and forts and know more about the history of the islands.