It definitely takes a different kind of person to want spend a ton of money to travel 5,000+ miles to an unknown land with little tourist-infrastructure. But if you’re anything like me, the mystique and romance of such an unknown, off-the-grid, and beautiful island like Nauru will gnaw at your emotions until you find yourself booking a ticket on Nauru Airlines and applying for a visa. It took me only a few months from the moment I discovered Nauru online, to visit. Nauru pulled me in.
>>> RELATED ARTICLE: THE ISLAND YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW ABOUT:
MY TRIP TO NAURU <<<
First things first: What to expect and what not to expect
It’s important you know that Nauru is not Hawaii, Tahiti or Fiji. Part of holding the title as “The Least-Visited Country on Earth,” comes with some a few inconvenient realities. There are no Four Seasons or Ritz Carltons…in fact, there’s not even a Motel 6! The island comes with two hotels only; and both would be rated 1-star on the American scale. Rental car companies simply don’t exist and there’s only one airline, with infrequent and expensive flights. Applying for a visa is somewhat of an ordeal, and there’s minimal reliable info online.
Still up for the adventure? Then I’ve listed some info below that can help you get started.
“Mother May I?”…getting permission to visit
You need a tourist visa to travel to Nauru. Any experienced world traveler probably knows and understands this process; especially if you’ve traveled to places like Brasil, China and many African countries that require visas in before arriving. The good news is, you won’t have to surrender your passport in advance, to the consulate, in order to get a visa. The visa simply comes as a letter via email.
You will need to scan and send the standard stuff to apply: the application, letter from your employer and hotel and air reservations. After the immigration office receives and reviews those things, they’ll send you payment and bank wire instructions. You’ll need to wire the visa fee–only AUD$50.00–and then scan and send back the bank wire receipt to Nauru. Finally, if you’re lucky enough to get approved, you’ll receive a letter granting you permission to visit. The process was pretty simple and to the point. Just don’t expect it to get done in 24-hours. You should allow at least two weeks; a month to be safe…I reckon the immigration department that processes visas is pretty small.
To get started, email Rajeev at the immigration office: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Provide Rajeev with your travel dates and ask for an application. He’s a cool dude. He’ll send you the application so you can get started.
Here’s the official Nauru website with the latest visa info.
The fee is AUD$50 for tourists and a whopping AUD$8,000 for journalists. The website even says, “The Media Visa application fee is non-refundable should your application be unsuccessful.” Yikes! Journalists, you’ve been warned.
The island has only one airline; the country’s national airline: Nauru Airlines. Formerly named Our Airline, Nauru Airlines (at the time of this publication) only has three flights to Nauru from Brisbane, Australia. They fly to and from other small islands as well.
Another option, besides going from Brisbane; is taking United from Honolulu to Guam and then over to Majuro (Marshall Islands.) You can then take Nauru Airlines from Majuro to Nauru. I may try this next time.
Surprisingly, Nauru Airlines’ fleet consists of 737s, not tiny puddle jumpers as I expected. The Brisbane to Nauru flight is really good, with great cabin service in coach.
For more information or to book your flight, see the Nauru Airlines website, HERE.
There are just two hotels to choose from! Neither of them can be booked online or with a credit card. You must contact the hotels directly for reservations.
I stayed at The Menen Hotel. The staff was really nice, but be prepared for an extremely dilapidated, run-down property. It’s clean, just falling apart–looks like it’s taken a beating from the sea for decades, with little or no upkeep.
The Menen Hotel
+674 557 8020
+674 557 8021
+674 557 8022
Link to Book
The second, is the Od’n Aiwo Hotel. I haven’t stayed here, but it’s known as the smaller, less-expensive hotel.
Od’n Aiwo Hotel
+674 444 3701
Though the island is tiny, I recommend getting a car. You’ll want the freedom to cruise around with your own wheels, trust me.
There are no “standard” rental car companies on the island, rather, individuals provide cars to use, for a fee. I paid $80 a day to rent a Toyota SUV from one of the employees at the hotel; no contract, no insurance, no receipt. Don’t worry, this is pretty standard stuff on Nauru. If you’d feel better with a reservation for a car in advance, call your hotel and let them know you need a vehicle.
Nauru is so small, the dangers of the big cities simply don’t exist here. The only two things you should be on-guard for are petty theft and wild dogs. So lock your doors and mind your stuff. And if you explore on foot, carry a big stick; even on the streets, those dogs are no joke. Like anywhere else, avoid swimming alone, always bring a friend. Finally, if you’re used to driving on the right side of the road, be careful in Nauru, where they drive on the left. There are lots of children playing about, so take extra care on the roads.
There are many restaurants all around the island; many operated out of houses and shacks. I stuck to what looked to be the most developed establishment on the island: The Bay Restaurant, which was fantastic in every way. I was, however, advised to try some of the other places, like Islands Cafe and Bondi Beach Restaurant. I’ll definitely hit those spots next time.
There are two “supermarkets” on the island, Capelle & Partner and Eigugu. They are small, and remind me of what a grocery store might have looked like in the 1940s.
The island is also full of tiny, Chinese owned “mini-markets” and general stores. These are super old school, without windows or lighted signs. They are fun to peek into. Stop in, grab a water and say hello!
Nauru uses Australian currency. Credit cards are rarely accepted, so bring plenty of cash. There’s one bank in Nauru and an ATM machine in the lobby of the Menen Hotel.
>>> RELATED ARTICLE: THE ISLAND YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW ABOUT:
MY TRIP TO NAURU <<<
This all depends on what you’re into. Here are a few really cool things I did while I was on the island:
Drive the whole island: You can drive the perimeter in about a half hour. Remember, they drive on the left-hand side here, and be mindful of lots of children playing.
Explore the beaches: I didn’t find any beaches that were suitable for swimming–most of the ones I saw all had those coral spikes shooting up through the water–but Nauru’s beaches sure make for great photo opps.
Jump in the Anibare Boat Harbor: It’s the locals’ “swimming hole,” and it’s pretty cool. There are usually lifeguards there. Bring a snorkel and mask if you can.
Explore the interior of the island: They call it “Topside,” and it’s filled with windy gravel roads, limestone pinnacles, abandoned and currently used mines, and of course, that infamous refugee camp.
Buada Lagoon: See the giant lagoon surrounded by beautiful flora. Park your car and take a relaxing walk around the road that encompasses the lagoon.
Take a look at one of the world’s most unique landing strips: One of the only airports in the world where you can see a 737 cross the street! Check before walking on the landing strip though–word on the street is, you can get in a lot of trouble for doing so (oops!)
Talk to the locals: They may be guarded at first, and for good reason. A quick read of Nauru’s history will make it apparent why. But once they get to know you, Nauruans are some of the most kind-hearted people you’ll ever be blessed to know.
See Old Japanese WWII Junk: This was one of my favorite parts! You start by exploring creepy old Japanese prison cells (or bunkers, not sure what they are, but they’re neat). Then take a super-fun hike up and down the hills and in between rocks, passing old WWII airplane wreckage, before you reach giant anti-aircraft cannons. It’s a boy’s (or girl’s) dream come true. Best to do this with a local guide though. Without one, it would be easy to get lost in the wild. And note that the hike is not for anyone who may have mobility issues (some tricky parts).
Nauru uses 240 volts.
It’s tough to find WiFi. The Menen Hotel has it, but I only got it work 25% of the time. Same with The Bay Restaurant. But that’s okay; all the more reason to stay off the phone and enjoy the island.
–Here’s my full report on Nauru–my experience, from beginning to end, with lots of photos and video
-Book Your Hotel at The Menen
–The Nauruan Governments Frequently Asked Questions webpage
–The official webpage for Nauruan visas
–History of Nauru
–This American Life – Episode 253 “The Middle of Nowhere” (awesome audio podcast)
What did I miss?
Did I miss any must-sees or important info? Do you have any questions? If so, please drop me a note below, under the “comments” section.
15 thoughts on “So You Wanna Go to Nauru?”
Okay, this is a very helpful post about everything you need to know about visiting Nauru. Glad to know that you can enter via United Airlines by passage through Hawaii-Guam-Marshall Islands. At the very least, you can knock off two countries on one trip from the United States. How many new countries did you knock off coming from Brisbane, Australia?
That’s exactly what I was thinking. Coming in this way will knock off Guam (territory, not country) and Federated States of Micronesia. On this last trip, three new ones. I went to Hong Kong first (second time in China), then my first time in Singapore, Australia, and of course the lovely Nauru!
Well i guess your post about nauru is fair……but the way it is, i can’t see why you would want to go there to holiday …. it’s substandard hotels will be a massive disappointment if you’re holidaying and they are very expensive……gastro outbreaks from the food are frequent……there is hardly anything to do there……you can do it all in one day…..yes it is beautiful but a waste of money to holiday there…….just saying
As I mentioned in the beginning of the piece, it takes a different kind of traveler, looking for a different kind of experience. You’re right about the hotels and activities–I also mentioned that in the article–but for the adventure traveler who enjoys seeing a virtually unknown land with many curiosities, Nauru is a dream come true!
yeah, I liked going to East Berlin all those years ago…It was much bigger than Nauru & still had very little to see & do. It was a place that did not require an expensive flight, expensive hotel. I knew I could always walkout of there if I needed to. And their exit “process” was similar to that of Nauru
how much are hotels, asking for a school project
How cool!!! Please tell me more about this project, it sounds cool! I loved Nauru!!!
Hotels and lodging are all between 120 AUD and 160 AUD. Do let me know if you have anymore questions and I would love to know more about this project!
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Hey Randy, hope everything ins fine wherever you are.
I really enjoyed your narration about this complex and interesting place.
I did not know about your page and it is amazing, very useful. I enjoyed the reading.
Especificlly about Nauru, I would like to ask you. About the prices over there? Is it an expensive country?
I t could be really helpful to learn about that. I am plannng to visit next year.
Saludos desde México.
Hi Alfredo! First, thank you so much. I’m so glad people like you can use some of my notes for your trips. As far as Nauru, it was just so neat to be somewhere so in the middle of nowhere and unheard of. You will love it.
As far prices–I mean, the airfare seemed really expensive, but after that, no. The hotel is moderately priced (it wasn’t very nice), and I don’t remember the food being expensive. There aren’t expensive activities like ziplining and water sports–so that stuff is a non-factor. Just try and rent a car so you can cruise around and explore. Do let me know how the trip goes. Don’t forget to apply for the visa.
Where in Mexico are you?
First and foremost, I have to thank you for the information. I’ve done a good research to compile the info you provide here, and it takes a lot of work, since as you say, there’s so few travelers going to Nauru.
Nauru has been beckoning me for decades, since I was a child and looked up an Atlas book my parents use to have at home, and finally I will be visiting it in 2019, Nauru being the paramount stopover of my round the world trip.
A few questions arise:
What about plugs? Australian addaptors are useful?
What is people’s attitude towards a traveler like? Are they easy to approach? Are they curious about your home country?
Did you get any trouble when trying contacting the hotel? I’ve tried to call a couple of times and got no answer -and yes, I considered the time zone.
Do you consider one week to be too much time to spend in Nauru?
How long in advance can visa be applied for?
I will be sending more questions as I come up with them, which will be happening as I prepare the trip.
Thanks so much again and congratulations!!!
Great to hear from you my friend, and I’m excited for your trip to Nauru! I’m also happy you found my article.
Now, some answers:
Q: What about plugs? Australian addaptors are useful?
A: Sadly, I don’t remember…I’d bet 99% Australian, but even if you’re out of luck, there are plenty of Chinese stores around the island that will sell you adapters.
Q: What is people’s attitude towards a traveler like? Are they easy to approach? Are they curious about your home country?
A: From what I know, and my experience–many people in Nauru are a little guarded when it comes to foreigners. Most foreigners that are there are there because they are working with the detainment “facility,” and many journalists that have come to Nauru pass over the beauty of the island itself and its people…remember, the people of Nauru have gone through some tough times…been lied to, stolen from, etc. I didn’t meet anyone that wasn’t nice, but at first folks didn’t really interact with me too much, at least on their own. BUT, once I started talking, introduced myself, etc…I met some GREAT people. So it just takes a little time and a willingness to make the first move.
A: Did you get any trouble when trying contacting the hotel? I’ve tried to call a couple of times and got no answer -and yes, I considered the time zone.
Q: They never answered my emails, but did pick up on the first try. The numbers listed on my site were the ones that I used. Keep trying. Seems that phone is the only way. Remember you’ll need an email reservation from them for your visa.
A: Do you consider one week to be too much time to spend in Nauru?
Q: For me, yes. I’d say IDEAL time would be three days if possible.
A: How long in advance can visa be applied for?
Q: That I don’t know…good rule of thumb is to start contacting them (Nauru) six months out. I guess it won’t hurt to contact them even a year out.
I hope this helps!
I’d like to visit every state in the USA. Visiting every country in the world is probably not going to happen. 🙁
It doesn’t appear that the island will prosper in the current state of the world. They don’t have anything to attract the world public. And infrastructure seems in a crumbling state.
I’m curious if the entire island were taken back in time without the miners and the detention facility and the two hotels… how the people / locals would live. Happier times, maybe? I’m guessing that a lack of internet there is a plus… islanders would probably compare what they have to what they think they would WANT but can’t have. That would breed unhappiness.
The one thing you didn’t really mention was what the locals actually do for daily activity. With unemployment 90 per cent per online reading… and really no tourist influx… how do the locals enjoy life?
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