Nauru Complete Travel Guide

# Complete Travel Guide for Nauru

Nauru is a tiny island country in Micronesia, Northeast of Australia. With its rich Phosphate mining history, compelling geography, and a unique cultural blend, it offers a distinctive experience for those looking to venture off the beaten path. This guide will provide you with everything you need to know for a fulfilling journey to Nauru.

Introduction to Nauru

Nauru may not feature on every traveler’s bucket list, primarily due to its remote location and compact size. However, that’s precisely what makes it an intriguing destination. As the world’s third-smallest country, both in size and population, its charm lies in its unspoiled nature and the absence of mass tourism. Historically, Nauru has had a tumultuous past due to excessive phosphate mining that once made its citizens among the wealthiest on the planet. Today, travelers are greeted by the resilient spirit of the Nauruan people and a sense of untouched beauty.

To truly appreciate Nauru, one must understand its origins and history, which are deeply entwined with its present. The island was first inhabited by Micronesian and Polynesian seafarers, and European contact began in the early 19th century. Throughout World War II, Nauru saw significant upheaval and foreign occupation. Its independence in 1968 marked a turning point, leading to a unique blend of influences that make up its modern cultural tapestry.

Travel Requirements

Visiting Nauru requires some preparation due to its isolation and specific entry requirements. All tourists need a visa, which you must apply for in advance through the Nauru Consulate or Embassy. As visa policies can change, ensure you check the latest requirements before you travel. Due to the limited number of flights to the island, it is recommended to book your travel well in advance. Nauru Airlines is the main carrier that services the island, usually with flights from Australia or other Pacific nations.

Travel insurance is highly recommended when visiting Nauru, and it’s a good idea to include medical evacuation coverage given the island’s limited medical facilities. Make sure your passport has at least six months of validity from your planned date of return. Additionally, since tourism infrastructure is not extensively developed, it’s essential to plan your accommodations and local travel carefully.

Top Cities in Nauru

While Nauru is a small island nation and does not have ‘cities’ in the traditional sense, it has several districts that are significant population centers and points of interest for travelers:

– **Yaren**: As the de facto capital of Nauru, Yaren is where most governmental offices are located. It lacks the usual trappings of a capital city but offers visitors an authentic look at Nauruan life and culture. Yaren is also home to the Nauru International Airport.

– **Menen**: Known for the Menen Hotel, one of the major accommodations on the island, and its proximity to Anibare Bay, Menen is a great place to be based for relaxation and to enjoy the island’s best swimming and snorkeling opportunities.

– **Aiwo**: Aiwo is notable for containing the relics of the island’s phosphate mining boom, including the pinnacles of the lunar-like landscape known as ‘Topside’. It’s also where you can find the Aiwo Hotel, which offers basic amenities.

– **Anibare**: This district boasts the Anibare Harbour and Anibare Bay, which houses a beautiful beach perfect for picnics, swimming, and sunbathing. Anibare is quieter and great for those looking to escape and enjoy some tranquility.

– **Buada**: Set inland, Buada Lagoon is located here. It’s the only freshwater body on the island and surrounded by lush greenery, providing a picturesque spot away from the coast.

These districts showcase the different facets of life in Nauru, from government and history to natural beauty and local culture.

Accommodation Options

Accommodation in Nauru is limited, with a handful of hotels offering basic amenities. The Menen Hotel and Od-N-Aiwo Hotel are the primary options for tourists. Rooms are relatively simple but comfortable. It’s crucial to book well in advance, as rooms can fill up quickly due to the small number of accommodations available. Amenities may include air conditioning, restaurants, and sometimes Wi-Fi, but always confirm what is available before booking.

For those looking for a more immersive experience, some homestays or guesthouses may be available; however, these are not widely advertised and would require local contacts or thorough research. Regardless of where you choose to stay, the chance to interact with the friendly local community will be a highlight of your trip to Nauru.

Local Cuisine

Nauruan cuisine is a blend of traditional Pacific Island foods with influences from other countries due to its varied history. Seafood is abundant, with fresh fish being a staple in the Nauruan diet. Tropical fruits such as bananas, coconuts, and pandanus are often incorporated into meals. A traditional dish to try is coconut fish, which is prepared by marinating fresh fish in lemon juice and coconut milk, often accompanied by rice or root vegetables.

Eating out options are limited, with a few restaurants located within hotels and local eateries that tend to serve more international fare, such as Chinese or Australian-inspired food. Trying local foods made by residents, particularly during a public holiday or festival, offers a more authentic taste of Nauru. Pack some snacks and essentials, as there are only a handful of stores, and the selection can be limited.

Sightseeing and Attractions

Nauru’s attractions revolve around its natural beauty and unique landscapes formed by its phosphate mining history. One of the main sights is the rugged lunar landscape of Topside, where the effects of phosphate mining are evident. While the environmental impact is undeniable, there’s a haunting beauty to this desolation. Another must-visit is Anibare Bay; with its crescent-shaped beach and azure waters, it provides a perfect spot for relaxation and swimming.

For a look at the history and culture of Nauru, the Nauru Museum, although small, contains artifacts and exhibits related to the island’s past. Buada Lagoon is another natural beauty spot set away from the coast, ideal for photography or a peaceful stroll. Lastly, for a striking sunset, head to the Command Ridge, the island’s highest point, where you also can find remnants of Japanese WWII guns.

Outdoor Activities

Nauru’s surrounding reefs and crystal-clear waters make it ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving, with local operators offering guided trips to the best spots. The underwater world is teeming with marine life and vibrant corals due to the low level of tourism impact. Fishing is another popular activity, and you can arrange charter boats for deep-sea fishing trips.

On land, walking is a popular way to explore the island given its small size. There is a coastal walk that circumnavigates the island, or you can choose to walk around the interior, seeing various landmarks and the inland lagoon. Cycling is another way to get around, and you can rent bikes from some of the hotels or stores.

Culture and Festivals

Nauru’s culture is a mixture of its Micronesian roots and the influences from the various countries that have had a presence on the island. The local community is welcoming and often hosts events and celebrations that are open to visitors. Independence Day, celebrated on January 31, is one of the biggest events, featuring traditional dancing, music, and showcasing Nauru’s national identity.

Angam Day, celebrated on October 26, is another significant cultural event that commemorates the survival of the Nauruan people from near-extinction twice in their history. The word ‘Angam’ means ‘homecoming,’ and the day is marked by various ceremonies and festivities. Attending these events gives travelers a deep insight into the heart of Nauruan society and an opportunity to experience local customs and traditions first-hand.


Nauru has one road that loops around the entire island, making transportation relatively straightforward. There are no public buses or trains, so the main modes of transportation are rental cars, taxis, or bicycles. Rental cars are available from some of the hotels or local businesses. Taxi services are also limited, and it’s wise to arrange transport ahead of time, especially if you have specific travel needs.

Due to the island’s small size, some visitors choose to walk to explore the different districts and sights. Regardless of how you decide to travel around Nauru, it is recommended to take care as the road conditions can vary, and there may be stretches of unpaved or rough paths.

Language and Communication

Nauru’s official language is Nauruan, a distinct Micronesian language. However, English is widely spoken and is used in government, commerce, and education, making it easier for English-speaking tourists to communicate with locals. Learning a few basic phrases in Nauruan can be a pleasant way to connect more deeply with residents and show respect for their culture.

Internet and mobile services are available but can be unreliable and expensive. There is one local telecommunications provider, Digicel Nauru, which offers prepaid SIM cards for visitors. Wi-Fi may be accessible in hotels, but it often comes with a charge and may not be very fast. It’s advisable to prepare for limited connectivity, which can enhance the feeling of escape that comes with visiting such a remote location.

Health and Safety

Nauru is generally a safe destination for travelers with low rates of crime. However, as with any travel, it’s important to exercise common sense and look after personal belongings, especially in busier areas like marketplaces. There are no serious endemic diseases, but it’s recommended to have standard vaccinations updated before your visit.

The country’s medical facilities are very limited; the only hospital on the island can provide basic treatment, and more serious conditions will require medical evacuation. Hence, travel insurance with comprehensive medical and evacuation coverage is crucial. Tap water is not always potable, so it’s advised to drink bottled water during your stay.

Remember that a trip to Nauru is an adventure into one of the least visited countries in the world. With that comes the need for flexibility, patience, and a willingness to embrace a slower pace and simpler way of life.

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