Kiribati is one of the most remote archipelagos in the world. We flew in from Christmas Island (which is just a short 3 hour flight from Honolulu). After a 90 minute private charter, we touched down on Fanning Island, just the third plane to land there in 20 years. Local village children rushed to the tarmac and we were warmly greeted with haku (a lei that you wear on your head) and coconut water. I could immediately tell that these islands were about to sweet talk me in to something real.
The pureness of this place can not be compared to anywhere else. It is pristine and untouched by time. Palm trees and lagoons line the road to the lodge which is run by Bruno (a French adventurer), the man who built it. Dinner at the first night was epic: mantis shrimp, an island caught delicacy. This massive crustacean combines the sweet succulence of a shrimp with the size of a lobster.
Fanning Left is super accessible and everyone hit it at daybreak. The crystal clear water flows over a flat and totally unintimidating reef below that is teeming with fish. Although the forecast indicated barely a foot of medium-period groundswell out of the south, we were surprised to find plenty of fun rippable little walls to sink our teeth into. After surfing for a few hours, we came back for breakfast, and then set off to explore the island. We roamed through the villages and traded smiles with the friendly and very curious locals. That afternoon, we paddled back out into an empty lineup and surfed until the sunset on us, making for a memorable first few days on the island.
Juliette Budge - firstname.lastname@example.org