Nauru Travel Guide
While there are smaller islands than Nauru elsewhere in the world, this tiny state is the world’s smallest independent island republic. Self-governing an island which is only 21 square kilometres and home to less than 14,000 people is a difficult task under any set of circumstances, but it is made all the more challenging due to the fact that its biggest industry is in the process of winding down entirely.
Not only this, but the phosphate mining which has gone on over the past half-century has wrecked the environment of Nauru, leaving behind a mostly barren and polluted interior.
Having said this, this island is still worth visiting for the reasons travellers go anywhere: to meet people, learn lessons, and to accept places for what they are.
Currency: Australian Dollars
Languages: Nauruan, English
What To Do
Start your time in Nauru by seeing how the world’s smallest republic manages its affairs at their Parliament House. With nineteen members of Parliament, this body is tasked with the job of guiding this tiny island nation through one of the most taxing periods of its history – transitioning to life after phosphate mining.
With this resource exhausted, and the aftermath of decades of intensive strip mining leaving the island’s interior heavily polluted and mostly devoid of vegetation, there is much fear about how people here will make a living going forward into the future.
If you don’t have a chance to chat with local politicians about these issues, you can still tour the grounds of their Parliament House, with its modern exterior and the artifacts within (the Mace and the Code of Procedures) being enough to kill more than an hour of your time.
Like many islands in the South Pacific, Nauru fell to the massive military invasion conducted by the Empire of Japan during the early days of the Second World War. After several years of being forced to work as slaves for the Japanese war effort, the Nauruese regained control of their country.
Despite this traumatic episode in the history of Nauru, reminders of the time Nauru was occupied still persist, as you’ll find several Japanese Guns during your tour of the island. The biggest cache can be found in Yaren District, along with bunkers and pillboxes where Japanese garrisons once awaited the arrival of Allied troops.
Today, their massive anti-aircraft guns still stand, although they have corroded considerably after many decades of exposure to the salty air of the South Pacific Ocean.
Next, venture inland to the Central Plateau of Nauru. The ugliness of unchecked industrial and mining development is what awaits you here, as all the vegetation which used to exist here has long since been stripped away by the mining companies.
After working to unearth every last kilogram of commercially extractable phosphate from the soil, all that remains here are pinnacles of limestone and rugged patches of plants in what is presently a moonscape.
If you are looking to understand why environmental regulations are important, seeing what happens when you let players like the mining industry do whatever they please will give you a better education on this subject than any lecture or textbook.
While the majority of the interior of Nauru is rather bleak, Buada Lagoon is somewhat of an exception.
While this swampy-looking lake which wouldn’t rate a second of attention in almost any other nation on Earth, this patch of lush greenery is a favourite place for locals to chill out, as it is one of the few intact natural places which still exist on the island.
If you are looking for a place to go jogging, this is one of the best places to keep up your exercise habit during your trip to Nauru.
While there aren’t many world-class calibre beaches on Nauru, Anibare Bay certainly qualifies as one of its prettiest oceanside places. There are lifeguards posted here, making it a safe place to take the kids, but if they/you decide to go in, surf shoes are strongly recommended, as there are many sharp coral rocks not far from shore. Be sure to bring a mask, snorkel, and fins, as there are also coral reefs not far offshore.
What to Eat
With almost no agriculture in Nauru, most food is imported, impacting the type and quality of cuisine here. That being said, Coconut Fish is considered to be the national dish of Nauru, as it makes use of the two food sources which can be sourced locally with a degree of reliability.
Consisting of a fish fillet coated in coconut and fried in oil, it may be tasty, but its far from the healthiest meal you’ll ever eat (sadly, this is a recurring theme with the food here – Nauru has the highest proportion of obese adults in the world).
The phosphate mining industry has brought many Chinese to Nauru, making their cuisine easy to find throughout the island. Given the widespread availability of tinned meats, it is easy to see how dishes like Spam Fried Rice have ended up on the menus of Chinese restaurants here. It won’t help you keep the pounds off, but you’ll have to admit it is rather yummy.
Given how hot it is in Nauru, and with many locals being employed around the clock at the mines (for now, at least), it is no surprise that Iced Coffee is the most popular drink on this island.
Whether you are at a resident’s house or are in a restaurant or a cafe, you’ll often find this offering, so grab some to either start your day or to cool off during the sweltering midday hours.