Tuvalu is a low lying atoll nation that will be greatly impacted – some say existentially – by climate change, and is often used as a pressing case for action. But what does Tuvalu look like? What’s there? The aim of this website is to reveal scenes around Tuvalu which I took during my visit in April 2010, and depict what is worthy of protecting. While you’re visiting, please check out my photo galleries.
In this post, let’s introduce Tuvalu for any potential tourists. It’s a beautiful place and well worth getting off the beaten track to visit. There may only be limited time before Tuvalu is irreversibly affected by climate change, so best start planning that adventure now.
Tuvalu is a nation made up of 9 atolls/islands, spread across a vast area of the Pacific Ocean north of Fiji. It has a land area of only 26 square kilometres, making it the fourth smallest country by land area. With islands that tiny, finding it on a map requires some searching.
Getting to Tuvalu is your next challenge. Statistics show that the outside world doesn’t much visit Tuvalu. Against a total national population of only 11,206 people (2011 estimate), according to the Tuvalu Central Statistics Division there were 1,657 visitors to all of Tuvalu in 2010. Of these visitors, 360 were tourists. That’s basically only 1 tourist to the entire country per day. Of those 360 tourists in 2010, one of them was me. (Rather ironically, my passport was stamped on a page opposite a Chinese visa – the world’s most and nearly the least populated countries stamped next to each other.)
At the time I visited, there were two flights each week from Suva (in Fiji) to Funafuti Atoll, which has the only airport in Tuvalu and is the most populated atoll (with around half of Tuvalu’s population). I found this flight no trouble to book online, just like any other flight. It’s around a 2 hour flight on a commuter plane. I arrived on a Thursday, and left on the next flight five days later on Tuesday. Watching that plane depart, not to come back again for five days, made me realise just how isolated Tuvalu is from the rest of the world.
I stayed at the Vaiaku Lagi Hotel, one of only a few accommodation options on Funafuti Atoll. It was a simple but comfortable hotel. To get there, I picked up my bag at the airport terminal and walked the 100 or so metres to the hotel. Nothing is very far on Funafuti Atoll.
I spent my time on Funafuti just enjoying exploring around the island, often by foot, and also one day by a borrowed bicycle (which was perhaps not completely sensible in the tropical heat). Tourist infrastructure is minimal, so don’t expect tourist resorts, flash restaurants or entertainment complexes. What Funafuti does have is very special – to entice you to visit Tuvalu, here are the obligatory Pacific paradise photos taken out on Funafuti Lagoon, at a beach on Tepuka Island, and a Funafuti Lagoon sunset.
Tuvalu uses Australian dollars as its currency, but doesn’t have any ATMs or credit card facilities, so bring enough cash to last your trip.