Fanning Island Cruise Port

Port of Fanning Island: An Overview

If you're on Fanning Island, part of the Republic of Kiribati and officially known as Tabuaeran Island, you most likely arrived by private yacht, sailboat or one of a few cruise ships. A sibling of the better-known Christmas Island, Fanning is extremely remote with no power grid or indoor plumbing. And that means it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience for cruisers to visit this untouched atoll in the central Pacific Ocean and its 2,500 residents.

Port Facilities

Near the pier at English Harbour, you'll find a beach compound with lounge chairs, entertainment, a local open-air market, volleyball courts and more.

Don't Miss

Take part in a rousing game of sand volleyball on the court in the center of the beach compound. Song and dance performances are also put on by Fanning church and school groups. The children are especially delightful in their grass skirts, doing a hula-like dance. There are usually three such groups who perform and solicit donations for their performances by setting out plastic buckets.

Take a stroll or bike ride. In 10 or 15 minutes, you can walk or pedal to the NCL Primary School and past homes made of coconut wood, palm fronds and corrugated metal. Nearly every islander greets tourists cheerfully, and the children call out "hello!" and flash sunny smiles. Though you might expect panhandling, we saw not a single outstretched palm.

Getting Around

There are a few ways to get around Fanning Island: on foot, by bike or on the backs of open-air thatched-roof trucks. It's easy to walk from the center of activity into the heart of the island; some locals also offer bike rentals and organized walking tours. Walks and bike rides can be taken on a hard-packed dirt road that has some ruts and potholes.


The main beach, around the lagoon, is powder-white; the water is warm, clear and shallow -- perfect for swimming and splashing. Those who bring their own equipment might see angelfish, parrot fish and other reef fish. Unfortunately, the best snorkeling is from a boat in deeper water, but those are rare and can be difficult to hire.

Food and Drink

Your best bet is to have lunch onboard your ship. While adventurous eaters might want to seek out local delicacies, islanders warned that Westerners would almost certainly fall victim to -- let's put this delicately -- traveler's discomfort. The coconut milk is some of the best in the world, but drinking too much of it can also loosen things up.

Where You're Docked

Passengers board high-speed ferries to English Harbour. You'll disembark onto a wooden pier jutting into the clear, tourquoise water of a palm-fringed lagoon. Yes, it's picture-perfect, reminiscent of a Robinson Crusoe tale or a "Gilligan's Island" episode.

Good to Know

As you should in any new place, be aware of your surroundings, and don't carry unnecessary valuables. Leave fancy jewelry and excessive amounts of cash in your stateroom's safe.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Currency is the Australian dollar, but American dollars are also accepted. As there is no power grid on Fanning Island, there are no ATM's; be sure to get cash onboard or in another port of call before arriving.


English is the most commonly spoken language on Fanning Island.


Real grass skirts, shell necklaces, palm-frond baskets and shark-tooth knives, which are actually made on the island and not in Korea or China, make great souvenirs.

Best Cocktail

Try a Kiri-Coco, a concoction of pineapple juice, coconut cream and Myer's rum served in a coconut shell.
  • Lovely island depending a good bit on several cruise stops a year. Felt we were intrusive, so many visitors, but a native reassured me that the children liked to look at the funny looking visitors and the money from sales of crafts was important. ... Read more
  • Fanning Island: Statendam
    Interesting to see locals who have no electricity, water and no sanitation in their habitat. They really welcomed us with singing and dancing in their native costumes. They also had handmade crafts available for sale, and they were very reasonably ... Read more
  • Fanning Island: Statendam
    One good tsunami would erase the island. The people were glad to see us mainly because we brought money plus HAL brings school supplies. The cruise director said that most people spend an hour ashore and that is what I did, just to darn hot and ... Read more
  • Fanning Island: Westerdam
    This is an island as the South Pacific was prior to the arrival of the missionaries. These people have nothing in respect to what we think are the basic necessities of life. No running water, sewer system, electricity, doctors/dentists, shops or ... Read more
  • Fanning Island: Regatta
    Actually, it was Christmas Island in Kiribati. There was no listing for this port, so I chose Fanning Island which is in the same archipelago. Not a good port. We had a horrific experience in tendering. The port authority was not honest with ... Read more
  • Fanning Island: Westerdam
    What a beautiful place! and what beautiful, happy people! and great crafts at really reasonable prices! Make sure to see the seaweed factory, as well as visit the school and church. There is a great need for school and medical supplies and they ... Read more
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