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Tarawa is the capital of Kiribati. Sometimes called South Tarawa, it is located on the Tarawa Atoll. It is the administrative centre of the country, but is of no particular interest for travellers.

The South Tarawa population center is made up of several small islands and all separated islands are joined by causeways, forming one long island. The Japanese Causeway links South Tarawa to Betio.

The country and city are not your typical tropical dream destinations and not many visitors go here. As a result, infrastructure, hotels and other facilities are limited.




Tarawa enjoys a pleasantly warm, but humid tropical climate. Daytime temperatures hoover around 30 °C yearround with little variation throughout the year. Nights are still pleasantly warm and generally above 20 °C. The wetter period lasts from December to May and concentrates more on the northern part of the island chain. Trade winds blow from March to October. The most pleasant time, weatherwise, is from May to September. Tropical storms can hit the islands during the wet season, but are rarely a reason not to visit the islands during this time, although the humidity and heath combined with the absence of tradewinds from December to March makes this a slightly less pleasant time to visit.



Getting There

By Plane

Tarawa is served by Our Airline (Air Nauru) from Nauru.
Air Kiribati, the national airline provides regular services to most of the major islands from Bonriki International Airport on Tarawa. The airline currently operates two aircraft, a CASA C-212-200 and a Harbin Y-12 II [1]

By Boat

Ships travel to all the outer islands from Betio, Tarawa, although you might have to wait a while if you want to go to one of the more out-of-the-way destinations. The MV Supercat is the fastest, most comfortable option available, ph: (686) 22 538 .



Getting Around

By Bus

Privately owned buses provide a cheap and efficient way to get from the airport to the main centres on South Tarawa. Flag one down on the main road and get off at any point. Shout out "I-Kai" to let them know you want to get off. If they sound their horn when you are trying to get a ride, it means they are full.

By Car

It is possible to rent a car on Tarawa, providing you are aged over 17 years old and have a valid overseas driving license. Be aware that driving is on the left in Tarawa and the speed limit is 40 km/h in the towns and up to 60 km/h on the highways.

You can try the following rental agencies.

  • Toyota Rent-a-Car, Bairiki, Tarawa. Phone: (686) 21 090
  • Mary’s Motel, Bairiki, Tarawa. Phone: (686) 21 164 Fax: (686) 21 362
  • Otintaai Hotel Bikenibeu, Tarawa. Phone: (686) 28 084




  • Dreamers Kiribati, Banraeaba (A few hundred meters before the parliament building), ☎ +686 22606, e-mail: Check-in: Flexible, check-out: Flexible. A family-run eco guesthouse. Has three self contained rooms with kitchen. This place is right on the beach with one of the best views on the island. The family that run it also runs an NGO. 60A$.
  • Mary's Motel, Bairiki, ☎ +686 22227, fax: +686 21362, e-mail: A small private motel on Bairiki next to the causeway to Betio. Clean Rooms with hot water. Restaurant on-site and Wifi.
  • Otintaai Hotel, ☎ +686 28084. This government run hotel is the best and most pricey in Kiribati. However, it is at most a three-star hotel, and some people only give it two stars.



  1. 1 Sourced September 2008: Air Kiribati's about page

Accommodation in Tarawa

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Tarawa searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Tarawa and areas nearby.


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This is version 8. Last edited at 1:03 on May 19, 17 by hasbeen. 3 articles link to this page.

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