Exploring Kiribati – Abaiang and Tarawa Anchorages

We are back in Tarawa lagoon having spent three weeks at Abaiang Atoll.

We spent some time exploring the main stretch of land on the east side. We were introduced by friends to a lovely Swiss guy, Nick and his wife Lisa, who live in Abaiang. As well as inviting us into their home for cool drinks and pot luck dinners, they also very kindly loaned us their bicycles. We spent a very enjoyable day cycling up the island to the earthquake damaged Catholic cathedral, stopping every so often to chat to the locals who wanted to practice their English on us and find out where we were from.

We were anchored only a very short distance from the ‘airport’, so went down to take a closer (very close) look. The airport (a tin shed on the side of a bumpy grass strip runway) gets several flights a week from nearby Tarawa.
As was the case in Tuvalu, the ‘runway’ is used as just another road, so has to be cleared of bikes and foot traffic a few minutes before the plane lands. The local security man sounds his motorbike horn when he hears the airplane engines and everyone (including dogs and pigs) clears out of the way. The pilots here must have nerves of steel – as well as good off-roading skills!

We eventually upped anchor and set off to explore the western side of the lagoon. After a very bumpy night anchored near a gap in the reef, we decided to seek shelter off Teirio island for a few days. The water on this side of the lagoon was crystal clear compared to the eastern side and the perfect azure blue.
We spent a perfect few days relaxing, snorkeling and beachcombing. Sadly, there isn’t much good coral in the area and much of what there was is damaged or bleached , but we saw a fair amount of fish and it was a good way to cool off.

There is a small, very basic resort on the island and we got to know the owner, Derek and the two English guests he had staying with him quite well. Derek even offered to get us some onions and potatoes on one of his trips in his fast boat back to Tarawa. Much appreciated, as stocks were running low onboard DT.

Before we knew it, Christmas day was upon us. And a pretty relaxed day it was too; just how we like it.
We made good use of the sun to see our way back over the lagoon to a lovely little anchorage on the North East side. Dinner was a delicious ‘lentil loaf’ which we ate with roast spuds, peas, corn and gravy (despite it being 31 degrees!). Desert was a rather magnificent ‘pineapple upside down cake’ complete with custard. We know how to live! It made a welcome change from the usual one pot curry and rice dishes we seem to live on.

Next morning we set off a bit further north and anchored off our own private island for a couple of days before making our way back down the eastern side in preparation for our trip back to Tarawa.

The forecast winds we had been waiting for didn’t show up, but we had a pleasant motor sail back to Tarawa, choosing to anchor over on the south eastern side of the lagoon this time. Not only is the anchorage more pleasant and protected than Betio, it is closer to the hospital, which was one of the main reasons for returning.

Our next port of call after Kiribati will be the Marshall Islands, and due to the huge measles outbreak in the South Pacific area, one of the new requirements for entry to the country is written proof from a doctor or hospital of immunity or immunisation again measles. We have both had measles, but neither of us could dig up our old medical records, so a vaccine was going to be required.
The local hospital has a special measles vaccination clinic set up and less than 10 minutes after arriving, two quietly efficient nurses had painlessly administered the jabs and provided us with our paperwork. Job done.

We then meandered back through the local township, popping into shops along the way, to see what fresh supplies we could find. Considering our last shopping trip here yielded only carrots, onions and apples, we struck veggie gold this time! We found pumpkin, cucumber, spuds, local cabbage, green paw paw and even tomatoes. (which were $14 per kilo) but when you haven’t had a tomato for two months then sometime you just have to go for it. And boy are they good. Tiny little cherry ones….YUM!

We also also managed to get top-up cards for our phone data which is now back on the rip roaring speeds of 3g……

So, all there is left to do is to chill some beers in readiness to toast the New Year later today.

Here’s hoping 2020 is a peaceful and happy one for each and every one of you, and thank you for continuing to follow our adventures.