The Jakarta Post
Thatched roof houses on a sandy beach in South Tarawa atoll in Kiribati. (Shutterstock/maloff)
While popular travel destinations such as Paris, Barcelona and Bali have become overcrowded and losing their special atmosphere, there are countries in the world that possess natural beauty, culture and history waiting to be discovered but kept under the radar.
From the quiet beaches with powder-like sand in Tuvalu, a traditional feast in Kiribati to the humpback whales’ warm-water nursery in Niue, CNN Travel compiles the world’s least visited countries that are worth consideration.
A South Pacific country you should consider to visit soon, as its beaches, tiny islands and stilt houses are at risk of being washed away by rising sea levels. Visited by a mere 2000 international tourists in 2017 as reported by CNN Travel, the country is among the most isolated in the world, but it offers tranquil beaches where flying fish are in view and candy-hued coral reefs are within a snorkel away. Included in the activity recommendation is strolling on the powder-like beach sand.
Located 1,394 miles away from its more crowded neighbour Fiji, Kiribati is a central Pacific country where atolls and lagoons are visible from the surface of its waters. CNN Travel reports that 6000 international visitors came to Kiribati in 2016.
Among the rare few who made it to Kiribati, some could be lucky enough to be invited to join a traditional feast called the botaki. Dancers in pandanus skirts, traditional percussion music and party treats including breadfruit, taro and sprouted coconut await at the botaki.
This is Tarawa. ※ ↠ an atoll in the Pacific & the capital of Kiribati. A country on the front lines of climate change. ※ ↠ On my last visit, the day I arrived was the final day of a ‘King Tide’. A King Tide is a natural part of tidal cycles & is a regional term for a particularly high spring tide. They’ve always occurred here, but previously only once or twice a year. Now they’re happening with more intensity & frequency. Under increasing climate induced sea level rise, the occurrence of extreme tide events is projected to increase. Climate-induced king tides can be more than 2m above sea level. The highest point on South Tarawa is 3m. Moving to higher ground or further inland to avoid the tidal waters is simply not an option. ※ ↠ Each time tides build, seawater inundates the land, causing flooding & devastation to vital resources. Endangering basic elements of survival, including the availability of fresh water with wells being contaminated, food sources & loss of homes, not to mention significant stress. ※ ↠ This story isn’t unique to Kiribati, together with increasing tropical cyclone intensity and frequency, these kinds of climate change related stories are common throughout the Pacific and elsewhere. The biggest environmental challenge facing our planet is climate change. ※ ↠ The anti-plastic movement has shown that the public can be ‘mobilised’ for action on green issues. But it’s important to remember to think of ourselves as citizens & not simply consumers. It’s government policy & action that's needed if we are going to get to grips with the scale of the problem. ※ ↠ Last year Australia, New Zealand & Pacific nations signed a declaration calling climate change ‘the single greatest threat’ to Pacific people. But despite strong criticism from Pacific Island leaders about the urgent need to move to cleaner energy, the PM says Australia's emissions reduction targets will remain the same. Oh, but that money will be spent to help Pacific nations tackle the effects of climate change 👀. ※ ↠ Australian friends, make climate change a key issue this federal election & vote in solidarity with your Pacific neighbours. #earthday2019 #PPTropical @passionpassport
The term ‘bikini’ for the two-piece swimsuit comes from this country. Bikini atoll, where the United States conducted nuclear testing is part of the Marshall Islands. Apart from giving its name to the swimsuit, the atoll also houses many shipwrecks on its seafloor, hence attractive scuba diving sites.
Among the shipwrecks is the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, which was previously seen at the Battle of Iwo Jima. Divers, too, are in for the view of colorful coral reefs and schools of fish.
Many parts of this Caribbean island were affected by volcanic eruptions in the 1990s, including its capital Plymouth that was covered with a thick layer of ash and volcanic stones. The country is now dubbed a modern-day Pompeii, with such attractions as a 17th century church that turned grey because of ash and ruins of a grand hotel. Following the tour to the capital, new beaches formed by crumbling volcanic stone await.
The volcano has been calm for 6 years. Is there reason to undertake basic stabilizing work on this fantastic building if the volcanic activity is dying down like Martinique? Could it be moved to the new capital on the island? Utterly fascinating. (Government House, Plymouth Montserrat. After the volcanic eruption of the Soufrière Hills which destroyed Plymouth in 1995, 1997 and 2010. Still standing.) #governmenthouse #plymouth #plymouthmontserrat #volcano #volcaniceruption #notmyphoto #carbbeanarchitecture #historicarchitecture #architecturalruins #ruins #newpompeii #whaverestoredworse #mustvisit
Not a typical Polynesian island, Niue has a rugged and cave-pocked coast. Humpback whales are known to flock to the island between July and October, using the sea as a warm water nursery. Those who fancy visiting this country, one of the world’s smallest, could immerse themselves in a guided swimming session with the school bus-sized whales. (sop/mut)
Also in CNN Travel’s list of world’s least visited countries:
São Tomé and Príncipe
Federated States of Micronesia
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
St. Kitts and Nevis