FAQ :   travel to TUVALU

TUVALU

flag of Tuvalu, click to go to the Tuvalu MAP Is Tuvalu in the South Pacific?
I heard it was super expensive to fly here?
Can't I come by boat?
How much time should I allow here?
Isn't Tuvalu one of the countries threatened by global warming?

Is Tuvalu in the South Pacific?

Tuvalu is on the northern edge of Polynesia, south of Micronesia and the equator and due east of the Solomon Islands. One of the nine islands (Nui) is actually inhabited by people who speak a Micronesian language, but Tuvalu is a South Pacific country. These low coral islands and atolls fit the South Seas stereotype, although Funafuti Atoll has been absorbed into the monetary world due to government activities and foreign aid.

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I heard it was super expensive to fly here?

You heard right. Until 1999 the air service from Fiji, Tarawa, and Majuro was operated by Air Marshall Islands, which was unpopular for its high fares. Then AMI pulled out and Air Fiji took over the route between Suva, Fiji, and Tuvalu's capital Funafuti. Air Fiji went bankrupt in 2009 and the route is now served by Fiji Airways. A roundtrip between Fiji and Tuvalu cost around US$1,000 which makes any sort of tourism and hotel development here impossible.

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Can't I come by boat?

Yes, the government supply boats Nivaga II and Manu Folau sail four times a year between Suva, Fiji, and Funafuti. The privately-owned Nei Matangare from Suva to Funafuti and on to Tarawa also operates from time to time. The three-day trip each way on either costs less than a quarter the price of the plane deck class but it's basic and subject to frequent delays.

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How much time should I allow here?

The flights from Fiji operate twice a week and three or four nights would be quite enough to get the feel of Funafuti. The outer islands are accessible only on the Nivaga II or Manu Folau and you might need a month to briefly visit them all or stop over on one as the ship's sailings are irregular.

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Isn't Tuvalu one of the countries threatened by global warming?

Yes. The failure of the climate change summit in The Hague in November 2000 was a national calamity for Tuvalu. The highest point in the country is less than five meters above sea level and Tuvalu's entire national territory may be inundated before the end of this century.

Hurricanes are already arriving every other year compared to every ten years previously, leading to seawater seeping into the taro pits. Taro, the staple food on these low-lying atolls, is grown in pits fertilized with manure. The soil is poor here and the leakage of seawater into the pits is challenging the very ability of the islands to support life.

Yet it's not only the weather and sea levels that are being affected. Climate change is also impacting the mighty Pacific reefs through increasing sea temperatures and coral bleaching. As the reefs are degraded, coastal erosion becomes worse, and the fishing and tourism industries are destroyed. Sea walls may slow the process, but as ocean levels continue to rise, the entire population of Tuvalu may have to evacuate, third-world victims of first-world affluence.

View a map of Tuvalu
Peruse our online guide to Tuvalu