Getting Here and History
The history of Fanning Island is one partly of mystery- a long period of the islands history is completely missing. However, in the last century the island has slowly become to be known as one of the Central Pacific's great treasures. And now, it can be accessed by the outside world through Pegasus Lodges and Resorts.
Draw a line from San Francisco to Sydney, and another from Santiago to Shanghai. In the middle of the Equatorial Pacific where these two lines cross, just under four hours flight time from Hawaii, and a little more from Australia, is Kiribati’s Tabuaeran Island. Tabuaeran, or Fanning Island, is one of the most inaccessible atolls in the Pacific. It is also a waterman’s dream, delivering a handful of empty, world-class surf breaks, a lagoon teeming with game fish, and one of the most pristine coral reef systems on Earth. Simply put, Fanning Island offers an unparalleled experience of perfect surf, pristine fishing, diving, and an authentic, welcoming island culture.
Tabuaeran shares a prehistoric mystery similar to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). 1,200 years ago to about 600 years ago, upwards of several thousand Polynesians lived in villages around the island. Though there are ruins of religious buildings and ancient gathering places, it is believed this is the last island Polynesians colonized before they discovered Hawaii. For six hundred years the island was uninhabited, until the 1850’s when it was established as a coconut oil plantation and later settled by the people of Kiribati.
In 1914 the German Navy destroyed a cable relay station that had been built by the British in 1902 and since then contact with the outside world has been limited to the three- or four-times-a-year cargo ships bringing rice, beer, flour, cooking oil, cotton fabric and a few other essentials, and to the occasional intrepid yachtsman.
…Or so it was before Norwegian Cruise Lines (N.C.L.) began making regular calls in December 2001. Shortly thereafter, island residents encountered their first telephone, faucet or electrical outlet. For seven years, the islanders adapted to a weekly influx of 2,000 N.C.L. passengers, mostly American, mostly in their 60's and older, who came swarming ashore swathed in tank tops, flip-flops, sunglasses and sunscreen. Life seemed as if it was changing forever until N.C.L. abruptly ceased the Fanning Island port call in 2008. Since then, the economy and the people of Fanning Island have reverted to a quiet, forgotten life interrupted only by the occasional yacht or cargo ship.
The population is made up of about 330 land owning families living in 8 villages numbering about 1,900 people. The 8 villages are connected by a dirt path, with 2 villages to the North of the lagoon passage and 6 villages to the south. Travel is limited to bicycles, motorbikes, canoes, with a few old trucks voyaging around the island.
The Pegasus operation on Fanning Island is managed by the intrepid Frenchman, Bruno de Lala, who left Bordeaux in 1979 to sail to Tahiti and never sailed back. After two shipwrecks, Bruno settled on Fanning Island over twenty years ago with his wife, Tabita, where they slowly built A la Belle Atoile and started a small family. Through his partnership with Pegasus, Bruno now looks forward to sharing his love for one of the few remaining untouched islands paradises on Earth.
Here’s the reason Fanning Island’s world class fishing grounds and waves go literally untouched: It can be a little tricky to get to. Pegasus guests arrive at Christmas Island (CXI) via Honolulu or Nadi on Fiji Air. They are greeted upon arrival by a Pegasus representative and escorted immediately to an awaiting King Air for their private, hour-long charter to Fanning Island. A 10 minute, open air pick-up truck ride to A la Belle Etoile completes the journey to this amazing edge-of-the-earth destination.
We encourage our guests to donate items to the local school whenever they visit as well as purchase locally made hand crafts on the last day of their trip. We also strive to always be a positive force in the local community through purchasing locally made building materials, labor and food, as well as contributing to the community through various sustainability initiatives and projects aimed at education and preservation of their environment without impacting their culture and way of life.