Least Visited, Day 4: Arriving in the Least Visited Country in the World, Nauru

December 30, 2018

This morning we got an early start, as we were departing the Marshall Islands and heading off to Nauru, the least visited country in the world.

Observation deck at the Nauru Airport

Our departure from the Robert Reimers hotel in the Marshall Islands was smooth, with the staff driving us straight to the airport themselves. The airport was bustling, but it is also quite small, so the bustling part is relative, I guess. After we check in and get our boarding passes, Alistair informs us that there is a $20 departure fee that we all need to pay. These countries are killing my budget.

I wish I got more time in the Marshall Islands, since it seemed like there could be more to explore in Majuro, and the locals were pretty easy to talk to in my limited interactions with them. Next time, I guess.

Our flight headed off to Nauru with a short stop in Tarawa, Kiribati again. The first leg of the flight, we were pampered with a small breakfast tray and unlimited drinks, and after the short stop, we got lunch, which I would equate to an American kid’s lunchbox with cheese puffs, a turkey sandwich, and a giant chocolate chip cookie. The cookie was actually pretty amazing, and it was great sitting beside Calvin during all these meals because he swore off carbs and let me eat all the good stuff out of his trays. I cannot speak enough accolades about this cookie. It was thick, it was not too crunchy, not too chewy. It had just the right amount of chocolate, and it appeared to be homemade, or at least, it was packaged in plastic wrap instead of a manufactured packet. The things you miss in Vanuatu, let me tell ya.

it's getting very real

We landed in Nauru around 1am, with a handful of recreational airplane observers hanging out on the bleacher platform like they were doing the other day.

no tickets needed for this free show!

Once inside the small airport, there are three lines: one for transfers, one for immigration for airline staff and pilots, and one for immigration of visitors. On my prior visit to the airport, I cruised through the transfer line and upstairs to the airline lounge. This time, we lined up in the visitor line, which is quite small for our group. As Alistair stood at the head, passing out the visa paperwork to us, one by one, the airline security who managed the lines looked at him, bewildered that there was a group of this size with tourist visas. We very well may have been the largest tour group of the year at 21 people. The security allowed us to break into two lines, taking up the airline staff space since no one else was.

beautiful artwork at the airport welcoming us to Nauru!

After getting our passports stamped, we went off to scan our bags, and talk to customs about anything we may be bringing into country. There appeared to be more staff for these tasks than necessary, given the quiet nature of this airport, so it took all of three minutes to complete.

here is one trampoline of many.

there are so many trampolines in this country.

A handful of people got sim cards for their phones before we headed off on a bus to our hotel. As we drove to the hotel, I noticed lots of trampolines. It wasn’t like every house had them, but it’d be a pretty good guess to say one in every five had one. I wondered what made Nauru such a prime place to have trampolines. Along the edge of the land in the ocean, there were these sharp coral rocks jutting out that gave the place a unique look. I also noticed lots of tires. Tires were everywhere, painted and decorating the side of the road, lining gardens, functioning as flower pots, rope swings and outdoor chairs. I would assume it’s because there’s no easy way to get rid of old tires, so using them as functional and decorative displays was the best way to make use of them.

decorative tires

The hotel looks like some sort of…I don’t know. Below is a picture for reference. I thought we were heading into some sort of camp when we drove past the gate. However, that being said, the accommodations are very nice and clean, and have a vague new paint smell. They’re newly built, and every room has plenty of space and includes a washing machine and full size refrigerator. There’s also tons of furniture, more than a short stay visitor would ever need. Why are there two china cabinets? Not sure. I don’t enjoy the layout of it, and tell Calvin one of these days I’m going to completely rearrange the furniture to be in a more logical placement. I hold myself back for now.

The hotel...compound?

The room is nice and cold with the AC, and pretty well insulated. In fact, it’s mostly insulation. In the bathroom window, you can see the foam between the metal wall panels. It’s basically thin sheet metal on either side and thick crunchy Styrofoam in the middle. But despite the oddity, it works, and our room is frigid and dry compared to the wet heat that lingers out the door.

Our room!

Our room number!


Calvin and I went off for a walk away from the hotel, as there wasn’t anything on the agenda until dinner that evening. Gareth was treating us to an early dinner since we didn’t eat lunch. Calvin and I explored a little on foot, seeing a nice playground nearby that wasn’t being used. In fact, there didn’t appear to be a lot of people out at all, which I found funny. This entire country supposedly has a rough population of ten thousand, which is far more people than Nguna, yet, the land area is smaller. And still, we encounter maybe a dozen people total in our hour of exploring. Where is everyone? Certainly not on this playground, which I begin to notice is the same straight-from-the-box setup that the other playgrounds that we passed earlier have. There isn’t much variety, but at least it’s a colorful playground that appears to be in excellent shape.


After we eat family-style dinner at the hotel with very long gaps between servings of food (the service isn’t the best here, despite us taking up less than a quarter of the completely empty restaurant). It’s an early dinner, so we decide to go exploring again once we’re done eating.

A handful of us walk to the Anibare Bay area, where a bunch of kids are swimming in the harbor. They have innertubes, swim fins and more, and they are sliding down the mossy boat ramp as if it were some sort of slip-n-slide. It looks like an absolute blast. It’s raining, so I’m already soaked. I put my phone in Calvin’s bag and jump in with my clothes on. The water is warm like a nice bath. The nearby spotlight makes it a nice, well-lit swimming spot.

Photo courtesy of Calvin

The kids are playful, and one of them points behind me and yells “shark!” I’ve lived in Vanuatu for long enough to know that Pacific kids all have the same pranks, and my non-reaction disappoints the kid. He was really hoping to terrify this weird white girl, wasn’t he.

The kids are hilarious, chatting in English with me, not at all shy like the kids back home. They ask me to try the slip-n-slide, and I know I’ll wipe out. I do, but at least I don’t break my jaw in the process. Paul jumps in the water as well and equally fails at the task.

I befriend a couple local girls: Belma, age 21, and Josephine, age 27. They speak excellent English, which they learned in school. Josephine passes me a spare inflatable tube to grasp onto as I wade in the water and hang out with them. Belma is a lot chattier than her friend, and tells me she works for family services, which by her description sounds a lot like social services. They’re both Nauruan, with their parents and all generations above it that they can recall being Nauru-born. I ask them to teach me “hello” and “thank you” which both have far more syllables than I expected and I instantly forget.

They live on another part of the island, but their family will drive them all in a truck to come here and swim every once in a while. Tomorrow is NYE, but it is a work day. However, kids are on school break, which explains why they’re getting wet and wild on a Sunday night.

I see my group heading back to the hotel, so I pass Josephine the swim ring as I say goodbye and slowly get out of the water, which is a challenge on the mossy ramp. The group and I walk back to the hotel, with tomorrow kicking off our first full day in this quiet country.