There are only 3 ways to fly to Tarawa, the main atoll of Kiribati: from Fiji on Air Pacific, from Nauru on Air Nauru, and from Majuro (in the Marshall Islands) on Air Nauru.
So from LA (or Sydney, or Auckland), you could fly to Fiji, and then take the Air Pacific flight to Tarawa (Tuesdays and Thursdays).
In 1996, Air Nauru recommenced operations with a new Boeing 737. It flies the route: Brisbane - Honiara - Nauru - Tarawa - Majuro and back. This is done all at once in each direction, so just the one plane takes you from Brisbane to Tarawa, but with 2 short stops in between.
Getting to Majuro to go on to Kiribati (Tarawa) is extremely expensive. There are flights to Majuro s from Honolulu, so one way to get to Kiribati is to fly first to Honolulu, then to Majuro, and then to Kiribati.
In summary, getting to Kiribati is not easy or cheap. But it is worth it, if you ask me !
Air Nauru flies from Fiji to Tarawa a couple of times a week. There is a connection from Hawaii to Christmas Island once a week too no flights since april 2004! , but at the time of our visit the only transportation from Christmas Island to Tarawa was by freight ship. Not very tempting, since the distance is appr. 3000 km! Rumors say that Air Kiribati has bought an air plane big enough to fly between the western and eastern islands since we we there.
New information: Air Nauru has a connection between the Marshall Island and Kiribati: Mondays 13:15 from Majuro to Tarawa 14:20 and Fridays from Tarawa 12:00 to Majuro 13:05.
Comment from GMaples Tue Jan 16, 2007 19:43 CET:
Recently spent 3 months on Christmas Island.. There is now weekly air service via Air Pacific between Fiji and Honolulu stopping at CXI each way every Wednesday.
Air Nauru flies between Brisbane (Australia), Honiara (Solomon Islands), Nauru, Majuro (Marshall Islands), Tarawa (Kiribati), and Nadi (Fiji), and they participate in the Visit South Pacific Pass. Great opportunity to visit several of the small island countries in the southern and central Pacific!
NOTE: On some web sites you will find info about Air Kiribati having international flights. This information is not any longer correct. For a short period (dec. 2002 - march 2004) they operated an ATR 72-200 with 66 passanger seats, and flew to some of the neighbouring countries. As for the Line Islands Aloha Airlines flew between Christmas Island and Honolulu on behalf of Air Kiribati: because of Aloha difficulties, there have been no flights since April 2004.
My best tip is that you check the actual websites yourself, since things change often in this area.
There are occasional cargo boat services to and from Tarawa ex Tuvalu and Fiji. If you have enough time, the Tuvalu-Kiribati boat is a MUCH cheaper way of getting between these two isolated countries than the overpriced flights.
There are regular boat services around the Gilbert Islands and, inter-Kiribati, your only option is by boat, too, as Air Kiribati doesn't fly to the Phoenix or Line Islands. To get from Tarawa to Christmas Island (Kiribati's two most popular points), you either fly out of Tarawa to Fiji or Australia, transfer to Hawai'i, and fly to Christmas from there, or get the boat, which takes TWO WEEKS!
Domestic travel is through Air Kiribati, which currently uses the grand total of ONE plane with 19 seats. It goes to all the Gilbert Islands from Tarawa, with each island being serviced once, twice or three times per week, but with the limitations of only having one small plane, plus a heavy sprinkling of "island time", you can expect delays, cancellations and unannounced rescheduling of timetables. Also, book well in advance and check in with plenty of time to spare because the flights are usually full up and/or reach maximum weight limits. Arrange to come back to Tarawa a few days before any international flight, just in case you are hit with one of the problems above.
Kiribati has two international airports, at opposite ends of a country that is as wide as the United States (although most of it is water!). I went to Tarawa in the west, which is only accessible from Nauru or Fiji. Christmas Island in the east is accessible via Hawai'i.
I haven't been to Christmas Island, so can only tell you about getting to and from Tarawa. Fiji would be the more convenient route for most visitors, as it's a lot easier to get there than it is Nauru. I went via Nauru because I visisted there too, but if you don't want to stay in Nauru you can stay on the same flight, the full route of which goes Brisbane-Honiara (Solomon Islands)-Nauru-Tarawa and back once a week. The service is operated by Air Nauru, although they are currently running charters with Alliance Airways of Australia due to not having their own plane at present.
It's a long and expensive journey. My ticket was AUS$1670 for a return, although it's cheaper if you don't get off at Nauru, or more expensive if you get off at Honiara as well. All the way from Brisbane to Tarawa takes about 10 hours, including three refuelling stops. The plane is small, likely to be full, and has no entertainment facilities (not even a magazine), so take your own.
The flight from Nadi in Fiji to Tarawa is also once a week and similarly an Air Nauru charter by Alliance. However Air Nauru lost its bid to renew the leg, so Air Pacific of Fiji will take it over in the near future.
As long as the charter situation continues (no end in sight), it's difficult to plan well in advance because Air Nauru only releases each month's schedule about four to six weeks prior. Check www.airnauru.com.au for the latest information and contact details for their various offices.
Two companies offer cruises visiting Fanning Island in the Line Islands:
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line has 10 and 11 days cruises from Hawai, with an 8 hours stop at Fanning.
Radisson Seven Seas Cruises
Radisson Seven Seas Cruises has 27 and 26 nights cruises out of San Fransisco / Los Angeles with a 5 hours stop at Fanning.
The best way to move between the islands of Kiribati, that is within the Gilbert Islands, is by plane. They had one by the time of our visit, for short distance flights with a capacity of 17 passangers. They were in the process of buying a bigger one for travels between the groups of islands at the time of our visit (autumn 2001)
The main office is in Bonriki (airport), and there are booking offices in Bairiki and Betio. On the outer islands there are local agents who are in touch with the main office via VHF radio, everybody on the island know who it is :-)
Vans pass by the main road on Tarawa every 30 seconds or so during the day; you just flag one down and get on. They run the whole length of the road between all the islands in the Tarawa atoll (the islands are joined by causeways). Although there may be only 11 seats in a van, they will stuff up to 23 people in them ! And extra-loud American rap music is usually playing on the sound system. It was rather amusing to watch busloads of grannies, children, parents, etc. appearing totally indifferent to this ear-splitting music with the most vile lyrics imaginable.
We used a boat when we go to town,or other islands.
By the way,when you are moving on a boat, just drop a fishing line into the sea! Then you'll catch a mackerel fish very easily.(Look at this photo.)