The journey is the reward.
— Taoist Saying

Travel Guide: Tuvalu

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Tuvalu is an island group in the South Pacific that form the fourth smallest country in the world. In 1974, ethnic differences within the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands caused the Polynesians of the Ellice Islands to vote for separation from the Micronesians of the Gilbert Islands. The following year, the Ellice Islands became the separate British colony of Tuvalu. Independence was granted in 1978. In 2000, Tuvalu negotiated a contract leasing its Internet domain name ".tv" for $50 million in royalties over the next dozen years.


It is generally believed that the earlier ancestors came mostly from Samoa, possibly by way of Tokelau, while others came from Tonga and Uvea (Wallis Island). These settlers were all Polynesians with the exception of Nui where many people are descendants of Micronesians from Kiribati.There are three distinct linguistic areas in Tuvalu. The first area contains the islands of Nanumea, Niutao and Nanumaga. The second is the island of Nui where the inhabitants speak a language that is fundamentally derived from I-Kiribati. The third linguistic group comprises the islands of Vaitupu, Nukufetau, Funafuti and Nukulaelae. Today, Tuvaluan and English are both spoken throughout the islands. The first European Explorer to make contact with Tuvalu was Alvaro de Mendana y Neyra, a Spanish explorer. He sailed westward across the Pacific in 1567-8 to discover, explore and name a substantial part of the eastern half of the Solomon Islands. On January 16, 1568 Mendana, with his ship Capitana, sighted his first island, which turned out to be Nui, and named it the Isle of Jesus.


  • Weather: tropical; moderated by easterly trade winds (March to November); westerly gales and heavy rain (November to March. Natural phenomena do not occur frequently here, but low level of islands makes them sensitive to changes in sea level. Three cyclones were recorded in 1997.
  • Terrain: low-lying and narrow coral atolls


  • Funafuti - the atoll capital
  • Fongafale

Get In

Most nationalities receive a 3-month entry permit on arrival.

By plane

Air Pacific flies from Suva (originating from Nadi) in Fiji to Funafuti Tuesdays. Return trip costs around 1000 Fijian Dollars (Feb 2010) Air Pacific

By boat

Get Around

There is one main road in Funafuti in addition to the runway, which is used for recreational purposes when landings are not scheduled.

Motorbike is the best way to explore the island some costing roughly $10.00 per day.


Traditional dancing is performed on special occasions, such as when opening a building, greeting special visitors, or celebrating holidays.


English is the language of government and of most business on Funafuti, but Tuvaluan predominates on the outer islands. Samoan and kiribati, although not the official languages, are spoken as well.


The national game is te ano (the ball). Two teams line up facing each other hitting a ball. The objective is to keep the ball in the air as long as possible. This is similar to volleyball.


There is a handicraft centre and a philatelic bureau on Funafuti.


Cost varies, but is fairly cheap.


There are many lodges that have restaurants that serve food and beverages. They serve many types of ethnic cuisines such Chinese, Italian, and Indian. Fish is abundant since the island is surrounded by water.


Bars serve soft drinks and alcohol during meal times.


  • Vaiaku Lagi Hotel, Funafuti, Tuvalu, ☎ +688-20501 (, fax: +688-20503). Vaiaku Lagi Hotel 105 - 133 AS$.

The state-owned Vaiaku Lagi Hotel on Funafuti is the country's only hotel. It also has significant nightlife.

The hotel has a fully licensed bar, a comfortable lounge and a dance floor.

Power supply is 240V/50 cycle.

There are 16 rooms in the new complex face the lagoon. Every room is air-conditioned and have a warm shower, with a toilet and refrigerator, plus tea and coffee-making facilities. Internet access is available in all the rooms at a small surcharge.

A conference room is ideal for small conference, meeting, running workshops, and training. It is equipped with video screen and deck, white boards for writing. It can accommodate 50 - 60 covers. The hotel has its own vehicle (pick-up) transfer its guests from the airport to hotel and vise versa during flight times.


Funafuti, Tuvalu. Phone: (688) 20501 Fax: (688) 20503. Email:


All rates in Australian dollars:

Single: $105.00 Double: $133.00 Rates are inclusive of Government Tax & breakfast. Children under 12 FOC. No credit cards accepted. Travelers Cheques can be cashed at the National Bank of Tuvalu.

  • Fale Tolu Motel, Northern side of the airstrip on Funafuti, ☎ +688-20545. 70 - 150 AS$.
  • Vailuatai Lodge, Alapi, Funafuti, Tuvalu, ☎ +688-20664. 60 - 80 AS$.
  • Militano Lodge, Senala, Funafuti, Tuvalu, ☎ +688-20497. Mobile phone: +688-91019 60 - 80 AS$.
  • Filamona Moonlight Lodge, Vaiaku, Funafuti, Tuvalu, ☎ +688-20833/20983. Fax: +688-20951 Contact: Ms. Penieli Metia (Manager) 70 - 80 AS$.
  • Hideaway Guest House, Lofeagai P.O.Box 59, ☎ +688-20365. HOST: Mr. & Ms Koepke Fax: +688-20835 35 - 60 AS$.


Funafuti hosts a University of the South Pacific extension centre. Motufoua, the country's only high school, is a coeducational boarding school on Vaitupu island. The Tuvalu Marine School, on an outer islet of Funafuti, trains Tuvaluan mariners for service on foreign ships.


The non-native work force is mostly comprised of contract employees from Britain and other foreign countries.

Stay Safe

A siren signals when to leave the runway for an approaching plane.

Violent crime is rare, and usually involves alcohol and family disputes.