If you have been planning to take a vacation to one of the most beautiful, smallest and remote nations in the world, then Tuvalu is where you must head next. This pristine corner of the pacific has a lot to offer including a serene environment for you to relax. Tuvalu is a collection of 9 small islands exhibiting spectacular marine life comprising splendid coral reefs and lagoons. Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, Tuvalu was formerly the Ellice Islands. This entire island nation is fringed with coconut palms and despite its simple lifestyle, it makes one of the best destinations to visit because of its remoteness. Queen Elizabeth is Tuvalu’s head of state, given it’s a member of the Commonwealth. Most tourists arriving at Funafuti airport receive a 30-day tourist visa on arrival. Situated midway between Australia and Hawaii, this small archipelago offers the best proximity of the blue sea and the sandy beaches. Amongst all the interesting things you can do in Tuvalu, here’s a list of 10 best things that you shouldn’t miss out while you are here.
Explore Tuvalu’s Capital Funafuti
The only way to arrive in Tuvalu is by landing at its only International Airport of Funafuti. Therefore, you must begin your tour by exploring Funafuti, which is also, Tuvalu’s capital and largest island. This city has plenty of hotels and attractions. While here, set out by visiting Funafuti lagoon which is a 12-mile long and 9-mile wide water body. You may even dive and swim in this enormous lagoon of Tuvalu. To get around in Funafuti, you will have to rent out a scooter which will cost about $10 a day. Riding a scooter is a fantastic way to explore real Tuvalu.
Visit Tuvalu’s Unfenced Airstrip
Funafuti’s airstrip is only made use of twice a week, respectively on a Tuesday and a Thursday morning. Other times, it’s either, a public lawn, or a sports domain. Tuvalu is hot during the day time so most people gather at this airstrip during the early evening. You will find locals and tourists taking a walk, or playing volleyball, soccer or touch football. This indeed is one of the best places in Funafuti to relax while the cool sea breeze sets in. In the evening, you may even lookup nearby landmarks such as the prime minister’s residence, the solar-panelled power station or the Tuvalu House, where you can meet the esteemed leader of the Tuvaluans.
Funafuti’s Marine Conservation Park
Funafuti is a collection of beautiful islets flaunting exceptional marine life. To get a gist of the island’s aquatic world, you must take a trip to Funafuti marine conservation park, that connects 6 small islands. Established in 1999, Funafuti Conservation Area is encircled by a substantial lagoon that can be reached within 30-minutes via a boat ride. This must-visit attraction of Tuvalu allows you to snorkel in its turquoise waters and lets you interact with colourful marine creatures that reside underwater. You will be surprised to come face to face with some of the most uninhibited and pristine water creatures here. You can spot tropical fish, manta rays, a variety of corals and even endangered sea turtles. This conservation park is surrounded by palm trees and houses hundreds of crested terns and black noddies.
Look In On The Philatelic Bureau of Funafuti
Funafuti’s Philatelic Bureau is a paradise for people who like to collect stamps. Whether or not, you are a stamp collector, a trip to this interesting attraction will introduce you to a valuable collection of imprints. The collection flaunts some very rare stamps including those used in Tuvalu, before and after independence. Amazingly, you may even buy the stamps you like. Some of the notable stamps are those that feature American Civil War and Charles and Diana’s royal wedding under the long glass table.
Explore The WWII Wreckage Sites
During WWII, Tuvalu and its archipelago were used by the confederated force to press defence, as well as, counter attack enemies occupying the Kiribati island. Today, the wreckage and remains from the war have become an observation deck for tourists. All across Tuvalu, you will find the remnants of warplanes with the likes of Motulalo and Nanumea. While here, do take a look at the bunker of Tepuka islet which is quite a historic attraction.
Take A Trip To Nanumea
Located in the northernmost prong, Nanumea is Tuvalu’s biggest island. Nanumea has played a significant role in WWII and was, in fact, the bomber base. The federal forces used this base to protect the Pacific as this is the closest island to Kiribati, the Japanese base. During WWII, Americans had requested the residents to vacate their lands and were relocated, to other areas of the island.
Visit The Local Handicraft Market
Like any other country, Tuvalu too has a local market that boasts its cultural heritage through its souvenirs. To get a glimpse of Tuvalu’s rich traditions and civilisation, you must take a trip to its local market; where you can buy unique artefacts, handmade necklaces, and handicrafts made from quills and shells. More often than not, the women of Tuvalu craft these souvenirs. You may even request them to stitch traditional clothing for you.
Put Up In An Eco Hotel
The spectacular island of Tuvalu calls for you to spend at least a few nights in one of its eco-accommodation. Each one of these eco-lodges allows you to experience nature up and close, Tuvaluan style. Some of these beachside accommodations are even solar-powered. Irrespective of their location, these lodges facilitate a great deal of nature-based activities. While here, you can go beachcombing, kayaking and fishing. Other times, take a weaving lesson or lay back in one of the hammocks.
Nanumanga is Tuvalu’s ring-shaped reef, formed of coral. What makes Nanumanga is its cave history. Back in 1986, underwater caves were discovered while a few natives went scuba diving. The inhabitants discovered old remnants of settlements portraying signs of fire. Therefore, these submerged caves are known as the fire caves. Legends have it that it was the same fire that ancient Tuvaluan inhabitants once, lit on the coral reefs and the rocks. If you know how to scuba dive then, you can easily access these caves in Nanumanga.
Drop Round To See A Church
Amidst all other fascinating attractions in Tuvalu, some are ancient churches. If you become friends with a local then there are high chances that they will invite you for a Sunday church service which is followed by Tonai, the traditional family lunch. A Tonai typically comprises of fresh sea fish, breadfruit loaf and a coconut apple dessert. What more, after lunch, you may even get a chance to be a part of Fatele, the impromptu local dancing-song.
While Tuvalu does mint its own medium of exchange, the official currency is Australian dollars. It’s best to carry AUD as it’s not easy to exchange money on the island. Nor is it easy to swipe cards. Tuvalu sees less than 1000 tourists per year, therefore, the tourist infrastructure may not meet your expectations. However, you can still have a ball of time if you roll with the punches and avail yourself of the island life. To one’s great relief everyone speaks English in Tuvalu.