Sitting just south of the Equator and boasting a tropical climate, one might ask the obvious question: why isn’t Tuvalu flooded by tourists? Well, first of all, it doesn’t have all those fancy things that, for example, the Hawaiian island of Oahu has and that probably discourages people from going there. But does it make the place any less brilliant? Hell no! Stretching upon nine islands (three main islands and six atolls), it only has a population of about 11,000. So what does this mean? Well, a tranquil tropical paradise, of course, that is the complete the opposite of touristy. So, let’s see the top five things to know before going there!
So, the question as to why people should visit Tuvalu is right in front of your eyes: the people. There are few places in the world where you’ll feel so warmly welcomed and the main reason behind that prospect is that not many people go there in the first place. With no more than a few hundred travellers crossing its borders per annum, Tuvalu is relatively sheltered from the outside world. This is the kind of place where children play on the streets and giggle whenever they see a foreigner. Everyone knows everyone but the local culture is far from stagnant – in fact, it cannot be any more vibrant. You don’t need awe-inducing skyscrapers to show the world that you are living in a great place – all you need is hospitality.
2. Language barriers:
Though people might think that being sheltered means less connectivity, the postulation cannot be any further from the truth. In fact, most people speak English there. How can you tell? Well, look around you and you’ll see that all signs are in English. This, however, does not mean that everyone will be proficient at it. The best thing to do to get your meaning across is to talk articulately – a little understanding goes a long way. Oh, and as a sign of politeness, you may want to learn a few basic words in Tuvaluan – the locals love it!
There are a few things to understand before you start waving money around in Tuvalu. First and foremost, credit cards have no use in this island nation. There are virtually no ATMs and cash is the uncontested king. So, the best thing to do is to pack those banknotes and then hit the stores and public services. But is tipping expected? Not generally but it is slowly beginning to make its appearance here and there – more so in hotel environments. This should not stop you from tipping any percentage, though, as it will gladly be accepted. Oh, and one last thing: the local currency is the Australian dollar.
4. Getting around:
Are you a biker? We ask this highly unusual question because if you are, then this place will feel like heaven to you. Why? Well, because the best way to move from point A to point B in Tuvalu is to rent a motorbike. They are perfectly affordable at a few bucks and the local traffic is safe. There aren’t many vehicles to begin with, so take your time and explore every nook and cranny of these islands before moving on.
5. The grid:
Here’s the short version: do not go to Tuvalu if you expect all sorts of luxuries. The long version: there is quite a lack of infrastructure there. If you think that you are going to be able to get on the web all the time for any purpose, then think again – the internet connection is beyond sloppy. You can technically buy basic access to it but the thing is that sellers cannot guarantee for its functionality – so, this is not a question of money. You have to get used to the idea that you are off the grid in Tuvalu; but that is only something to enjoy because the first-hand experiences are going to stay with you for life. Life there is as it is – only life and its wonders!
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Tuvalu and what can you share with the world? Would you go back and visit this small island nation again? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and be sure to check back occasionally for exciting new updates! Safe travels!