Tabuaeran (Fanning Island)
Tabuaeran Island (known as Fanning Island) has lately become popular as a New Cruise destination for cruise passengers. The island is 1,100 miles south of Hawaii. Passengers are welcomed with local dances and string band, which are staged at the wharf. Several local tours and activities such as Island tours, sightseeing and snorkelling in the lagoon are offered to passengers while staying on the island.

The island was uninhabited when Europeans first saw it, but archaeological evidence points to 'local' people - probably Tongans - paying a pre-European visit. The Fanning Island Plantations Ltd Company decided they would own the island during the 19th century, and began exploiting the coconuts growing there for copra. A small and laid back population of a little over 1300 lives there today, and you can snorkel, dive and swim around much of the coast. Tabuaeran is 3130km (1941mi) north-east of Tarawa, and getting there is difficult unless you have your own yacht or can hitch a ride on one.

Fanning Island, reputed to be the most beautiful in Kiribati. A favorite port of call for yachts travelling between Hawaii and Tahiti. Some infrastructure (nice houses) accumulated over the years as the island was a former base of the Cable and Wireless Company. Now being settled in large numbers by I-Kiribati as part of a population pressure relief program. There are approximately 2,500 residents of Fanning, who accepted the Kiribati government's recommendation to move to the atoll to ease overcrowding on Tarawa.

Though this may not be in the Port of Paradise category, it still is a rustic snapshot of Micronesian lifestyles. However, everything is changing. The impact of the Cruise line on the life is readily apparent as tourism provides a significant amount of income to the small community. In addition, the Norwegian Cruise Line helped build the school, which is now called the NCL Primary School.

The Norwegian Star's stop here is based on an 1890's law -- the "Jones Act" -- where an international flagship cannot start and terminate its trip within the Hawaiian waters. The Norwegian Star is Panama registry. For maps of Kiribati's location, go to ABC Translators on the web. An excellent site for more detailed information on the islands and people of Kiribati is at Kiribati 2000.

First-hand account of a cruise passenger's visit (along with his puppet "Bill") to Fanning is at
Drango: Fanning Island, Kirabati. He wrote, "Fanning Island is an island some 2,000 South of Hawaii. It is part of the Kirabati Republic. It is an atoll. An atoll is an circular ring of coral that is above the water. Coral is the shell of a living organism. In the center is a shallow lagoon or pool. The water outside the island is very deep. Where the Norwegian Wind stood the water was around 3,000 feet deep. Below is the main inlet to the lagoon called "English Harbor". Some ships can go into the harbor. Our ship was too big. In the distance you can see the back side of the island."

"We came in to the island by tender. We were welcomed by a group of natives singing. The children were delightful. The island was very beautiful as we walked around. Homes were simple open platforms with a thatched roof. Linda bought a basket from a lady making it. It turned out to be a hat!"

"Natives climbing the coconut palms pick coconuts. This is a part of the diet of the natives. They also fish and eat other fruit grown on the island."

"I visited with many of the natives. Then we visited the elementary school on the island. The school is called the NCL Primary School. It is named in honor of the cruise line NCL. They have donated many supplies to the school. It has a separate building for each grade. There is no glass in the windows."

"I was a hit with the kids. Bob told stories to the class. The official language is English. They teach English in the school but Most don't speak it well. The teacher had to translate as Bob told his stories."

"We met dancers at the school. They went to the ship to entertain the passengers before we left the island. I hated to leave. This was such a nice place. We could see our ship waiting for us. We took the tender back to the ship. Then we headed back to Hawaii."