Kiribati is a string of 33 arrestingly beautiful tropical islands way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Think sprawling beaches, enchantingly clear waters, and the level of peace and solitude only attainable in your wildest vacation fantasies.
But hardly anyone goes there.
The tiny country had only 6,000 visitors in 2014, making it least visited country on Earth, according to the most recent data from the World Tourism Organisation (WTO).
Those that do make their way to Kiribati are usually seeking out the country’s world class surfing, swimming, diving and record-breaking game fishing. One of Kiribati’s main islands was also the site of a Japanese-American battle during World War II, where eight-inch coastal defense guns and solid concrete bunkers serve as reminders of this past. Visitors to various islands in this tiny nation can stay in charming, tropical lodges and explore shipwrecks, rusted crafts and more on the expansive shores during low tide.
This country is truly a tropical paradise, so it can be hard to imagine why Kiribati isn’t nearly as popular as similar islands in this region of the Pacific… if there were any.
Considering that it’s situated quite literally in the middle of oceanic nowhere, Kiribaki’s lack of attention from tourists is likely due to its incredibly remote location. Fiji Airways has a return weekly service to Kiribati between Nadi, Fiji and Honolulu, Hawaii., but flights to Kiribati are otherwise scarce.
Even more unfortunate for these islands, however, is that they’re quickly disappearing. The nation recently purchased 6,000 acres of land from Fiji, presumably so that Kiribati’s citizens can relocate before the effects of climate change overtake their modest little island nation.
Excluding countries on which the WTO does not have data (i.e. North Korea) and considering only countries that are independent and sovereign, the world’s least visited countries behind Kiribati are similar in scope and shape. Second on this list is the tiny European Leichtenstein, receiving only 60.000 visitors per year; in 3rd, the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, with 72.000 visitors; and in 4th, East Timor, another group of islands in Southeast Asia that greets no more than 78.000 visitors per year.
For your next vacation, you may consider one of these overlooked destinations. Not only will you avoid the crowds, but in some faraway places like Kiribati, a land of relaxation, beauty and history awaits.