Kiribati - Tarawa and Marakei

Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) is the nation governing the Gilbert, Line and Phoenix islands groups.  It covers the total area of about 5 million square kilometres.

The Eclipse is total on the northern island of Marakei.  We will access the island by flying Fiji to Tarawa, then taking a chartered SuperCarrier from Tarawa to Marakei. The SuperCarrier is an 80 passenger intra-island ferry used for moving people and cargo between islands.

Kiribati may not be a household name, but the name, Tarawa is well known as a famous and grim WWII battle in the Pacific.  Tarawa is home to hundreds, if not thousands of in-situ WWII relics.  Downed planes, sunken ships, canons, bunkers, propellers and tanks are still scattered across the pock-marked island... mixed in between drying laundry and palm trees.  These many shipwrecks make for amazing undersea breeding grounds for plant and fish life. Snorkelers and divers will find open wrecks at 50 feet and shallower.

At Marakei, our eclipse site is on the shallow atoll island with a clear, blue lagoon.  The island's low profile with no volcanic peak at the center is a weather advantage, with no point on which clouds might form.  We will observe on the sandy beach on the North shore if weather permits and if clouds threaten, we can move via ferry to intercept clear sky.

July 21 Fly Nadi to Tarawa FJ 231 1210/1510
Transfer to the airport for flight to Tarawa. Transfer to hotel Tarawa.
This afternoon, we will have a short tour of Tarawa including the remains of the famous WWII battles, the shipyard, the catholic churches, colorful windows of the churches and the cultural center of the island that promotes the local handicraft materials.
Accommodation: Tarawa Hotel

July 22 Eclipse Day - SuperCarrier Tarawa - Marakei
0500 departure by Ferry for Marakei. Our ferry trip on eclipse day will take approximately 6-7 hours depending on our route and sea conditions. Our route will take us north past the neighboring island of Abaiang along the way

In his book, Astride the Equator, Father Sabatier wrote, “Seen … from an aeroplane, beneath the fires of noon, the rounded island of Marakei would appear like a green star, a Saturn surrounded by four rings: a golden ring – the interior sands; - a green ring – the forest; a fawn-coloured ring – the reefs; and a final silver ring – the waves. Beyond, the somber firmament of the beneath of the sea.

Arrival to Marakeiat approx. 12:00 noon local time.

First Contact occurs at 2:44 PM local time

Maximum eclipse is at 3:57 PM local time

Duration of totality is 3:59 at a viewing site on the beach.

Fourth Contact occurs at 5:01 PM local time

We will enjoy a celebration barbeque on the beach this evening before departure at approximately 5:30pm.

Return by Ferry to Tarawa - arrival at approx. 11:30pm
We will enjoy a celebration barbeque on the beach this evening before departure by SuperCat at approximately 5:30pm.
Return by SuperCarrier to Tarawa - arrival at approximately 11:30pm
Accommodation: Tarawa Hotel

July 23 Fly Tarawa to Nadi FJ 230 1130/1430

Note:  We originally planned to view from the island of Butaritari,  However, the ferry vessel available was not able to reach the 20kph as previously anticipated.  This changes the travel time from Tarawa to Butaritari to a 13-hour trip each way.  This schedule excludes any chance for overnight sleep or tours on Tarawa.  

In the interest of passenger safety, comfort and safe shelter, Astronomical Tours has opted to aim for the nearer island of Marakei.