Tuvalu – Trip Report


Tuvalu Trip Report

Known to be one of the least visited countries in the world, Tuvalu is just 26km² (fourth smallest country by area) with a population of 10,000+ people! Tuvalu consists of nine islands of which six are atolls (ring-shaped coral reefs) surrounded by a lagoon. One of the few countries to probably disappear because of rising sea levels and global warming, this tiny nation has some beautiful sights to offer.

Tuvalu story highlights on InstagramTuvalu story highlights on Instagram

This trip report can also be seen on our story highlights on Instagram account @travelonthedollar.

Click the image on left to go directly to Tuvalu Highlights, or visit our page and under ‘Highlights’, scroll to the right and click on ‘Tuvalu’.

 

Planning and Arrival

Flights

Having booked as a part of the Fiji Airways “hopper” flight to other South Pacific nations, the flight from Suva, Fiji (SUV) to Funafuti, Tuvalu (FUN) arrived on a Saturday at 11:30am. Scheduled flights from Suva fly on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays only and they could cost $600 return. No other flights are available apart from these!

Flight warning

Note that the flights between Fiji and Tuvalu leave from/return to Suva (SUV) in Fiji, and not Nadi (NAN), where all other flights to/from south pacific nations do.

 

Rental Car/Motorbike in Tuvalu

There are no rental car companies in Tuvalu. And considering the size of the island, you don’t need one! You can walk across the island, or rent a scooter (two-wheeler) from your hotel or other places around the capital city. It costs 20 AUD for 24 hours to rent a scooter (although some local places or garages offer 10 AUD).

Rental scooter in Tuvalu
Rental scooter in Tuvalu

SIM Card in Tuvalu

Tuvalu Telecom is the only operator in Tuvalu. The offices are open Mon-Fri from 9am to 5pm, and closed on weekends. But for flights arriving on Saturday, they are open from 12pm to 2pm to give out SIM cards to arriving tourists. A charge of AUD 10 is taken for the SIM card, and you pay extra for the amount of data you top-up.

Tuvalu Telecom Office
Tuvalu Telecom Office located right next to the airport.

Here’s the data plans and costs (August 2023):

Data Plans in Tuvalu
Data Plans in Tuvalu

Currency exchange at Funafuti, Tuvalu

The official currency of Tuvalu is Australian Dollar (AUD). There is one currency exchange counter at Funafuti airport, but it’s closed on weekends. The two bansk right next to the airport are closed on weekends as well, but open on weekdays from 9am-2pm.

National Bank of Tuvalu
National Bank of Tuvalu is located right next to the airport.

Hotel in Tuvalu

Located right on the airport is the most-reserved hotel amongst travelers – Filamona Lodge. It costs 105 AUD a night for a double room with ensuite bathroom (no hot water, no wifi, breakfast included).

Filamona Lodge reservation

the best way to book is to send a message on their Facebook page or send an email with your reservation request. DO NOT use booking.com as they had a fallout with the lodge (August 2023).

 

Filamona Hotel, Tuvalu
Located next to the airport this is Filamona Hotel
Filamona Hotel, Tuvalu
Bedroom of Filamona Hotel, Tuvalu
Filamona Hotel, Tuvalu
Bathroom of Filamona Hotel, Tuvalu

 

The second most-reserved hotel is Funafuti Lagoon Hotel. Located behind the police station, this is a great hotel with some good views of the lagoon. Visit their website for most updated prices or write to them at booking@funafutilagoonhotel.tv for reservations.

Funafuti Lagoon Hotel, Tuvalu
Funafuti Lagoon Hotel, Tuvalu

Fongafale Atoll

There are not many activities to do in Tuvalu! The western and northern islands of the atoll are mostly inaccessible by foot even on low tides, which leaves you with the L-shaped Funafuti ‘city’. The 20 kilometers road from one end of the atoll to other is a great way to walk and explore for 3 hours. But the high temperatures throughout the year doesn’t make it a pleasant walk! Another option is to rent a scooter for AUD 20 (for 24 hours) and explore, taking in an hour tops!

Tuvalu doesn’t have any church, cathedral or any square with a statue. There are a few ‘beach spots’ to take a swim, but they all have dead corals making it very difficult to lie down or swim.

Sights to see in Tuvalu

I rented a scooter from Filamona Hotel for 20 AUD (for 24 hours) and visited some of the ‘sights’ this atoll has to offer:

Shipwreck in Funafuti, Tuvalu
Shipwreck in Funafuti, Tuvalu
Shipwreck in Funafuti, Tuvalu
Shipwreck in Funafuti, Tuvalu

The beaches in Tuvalu are not known for relaxing or diving. Rocks and dead corals line the shores making it difficult to even walk around.

Beach in Funafuti, Tuvalu
Beach in Funafuti, Tuvalu
Locals drying clothes in Funafuti, Tuvalu
Locals drying clothes in Funafuti, Tuvalu
Tuvalu Road, Funafuti, Tuvalu
Tuvalu Road, Funafuti, Tuvalu
Tuvalu Flag
Tuvalu Flag next to the police station

 

Tuvalu Parliament
Tuvalu Parliament
Convention Center, Funafuti, Tuvalu
Convention Center, Funafuti, Tuvalu

There’s just one road in Funafuti atoll. This road leads from one end of the country to the other. Speed limits are not usually mentioned but it’s a given that limit is 40km/h.

Road in Tuvalu
Just one road in Tuvalu

With only three scheduled flights per week, and lack of any stadiums or playgrounds, the locals make the best of the runway in the evening by playing sports or just hanging out with friends and families.

Locals playing football on Tuvalu Runway
Locals playing football on Tuvalu Runway
Locals playing football on Tuvalu Runway
Locals playing football on Tuvalu Runway

Food

With everything closed on the weekends, I stopped by Nang’s Restaurant (Chinese food) for meals which was the only one open on weekends.

Apart from this, the well-known 3Ts Restaurant was permanently closed. Another good option for food and drinks is Blue Ocean restaurant.

Nangs Restaurant, Tuvalu
Nangs Restaurant, Tuvalu
Nangs Restaurant, Tuvalu
Nangs Restaurant, Tuvalu

Spent the rest of the days walking around the island, and the sunsets didn’t disappoint me!

Sunset in Funafuti, Tuvalu
Sunset in Funafuti, Tuvalu
Sunset in Funafuti, Tuvalu
Sunset in Funafuti, Tuvalu

 

Expenses

Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult. The exchange rate at the time of publishing is assumed to be USD 1 = AUD 1.50. This does not include international flights to/from Tuvalu.
 

What Cost Notes
Filamona Hotel $210 For 3 nights. 105 AUD per night, breakfast included. No wifi.
Sim Card $20 Tuvalu Telecom, AUD 30. AUD 10 for SIM card, AUD 20 for 3GB.
Meals $30 Lunch at Filamona Hotel – AUD 15.
Nangs dinners/lunches AUD 30.
Rental Scooter $13.30 AUD 20 from Filamona Lodge.
Postal Stamps $5.75 Set of stamps for AUD 8.60.
Groceries $10 AUD 15 for water, chips.
Total Costs $289.05 Per person
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