Probably not! Tuvalu is a lonely island outpost in the remotest corner of the world. Easily passed off as uninhabited specks of sand, this unexplored paradise is slowly disappearing into the Pacific ocean. So, if you are in the mood for some sun and sand, away from those idyllic beach resorts – better pack your bags fast. Global warming seems to be working really hard to knock Tuvalu off the world map.
Less than 1000 travelers visit these islands in a year. The transportation costs are a little on the upside, but it is definitely worth a visit for the untouched beauty which may not wait forever to receive its due credits.
Where: All the way down south of the equator. Fiji and Kiribati are the closest landmarks.
How to get there: It does have an Airport and it is called Funafuti. Air Pacific and Air Fiji fly to the island from Fiji and Suva – once or twice a week. The seats are limited and are thus high on demand. But if you want to add a dash of adventure, get on board Tuvaluan Govt. owned cargo/passenger ships, MVS Nivagah and Manu Folan, for a four day trip from Fiji or Suva. But they sail only once or twice a year.
Money matters: Tuvaluan dollars are official currency but Australian dollars are also accepted as legal tender. Rate for cash is better than traveler’s cheques and all major currencies along with Fijian dollars are accepted for exchange. ATM and credit card facilities are limited (almost nil). Funafuti has a western union branch. The islanders do not expect tipping.
Keeping in Touch: International telephone services are available. You wouldn’t miss the internet either.
Climate: Pleasantly tropical with little variation between day and night. Temperatures hover around 30 degree Celsius. Also receives an annual rainfall of about 3000mm.
What to wear: Casual but there is sensitivity about the way women dress. It is advisable not to explore the villages in brief clothing like swim suits.
Customs: On arrival, visitors above the age of 18 are each allowed a liter of alcohol and 200 cigarettes duty free.
What to do: Visit the Philatelic Bureau or cruise along the magnificent lagoons. If you like to get closer to nature, watch the coconut crabs, seabirds and turtles nesting in the uninhabited atolls. Make friends at the villages and treat your palate to exotic flavors conjured from tropical fruits and coconuts. The coral reefs offer an excellent opportunity for snorkeling or scuba-diving. Or just lie down, relax and listen to the waves.
Official tourism website: www.timelesstuvalu.com
- The Polynesian island nation was formerly known as Ellice Islands.
- Kiribati, Samoa, Nauru and Fiji are the closest neighbors.
- Around 10,000 people live in the 6 atolls and 3 reef islands that come together to form Tuvalu. And that gives it the distinction of being the 3rd least populous sovereign state.
- It stands 4th among the small countries list with a total area of 26 km2.
- Tuvalu is a peaceful paradise devoid of formal political parties, a regular military or police force.
- Republic of China (Taiwan) is the only resident embassy.
- 2nd lowest maximum elevation from sea level and it is steadily heading down.
- Rain water is the major source of drinking water, which is collected in tanks and roof tops.
- Transportation facilities are limited with only 8 kms of roads on the island. Tuvalu is one of those few places in the world that does not have a railroad.
- Tuvalu has one Bank – The national Bank of Tuvalu.
- The Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau offers some of the most coveted stamps in the world.