Formally annexed to the British by Captain William Wiseman on March 15, 1888, The "English Channel" was created. However, in 1979 the "Gilbert" and Elice" islands became independent as part of the Republic of the Kiribati. The islands once featured in a short story by John Updike called "The Blessed Man of Boston, My Grandfathers Thimble, and the Fanning Islands." The islands are primarily occupied by Gilbertes Settlers from the Republic of the Kiribati and they became plantations for 'Copra' or "The Meat of the Coconut.

     For some time, the Tabuaeran was a weekly port of call for the Norwegian Cruise Line, who had ships based in Honolulu. Not being susceptible to United States port taxes, the Fanning Islands became a lucrative and adventurous port for the Norwegian Cruise Line. These small, minimally developed and inhabited islands are much quieter and primal in nature making for a more peaceful and relaxing environment. Rather than having tremendous hotels, bars and other distractions of modern civilization  most of these small coconut grove islands have been spared of the traffic, smog, and dense population as compared to the Hawaiian islands. You may find a small main building and a cinder block school house for young children on these islands, but generally speaking, that’s about it

     These islands are often too small to have a port for large ships, smaller shuttle boats take tourist to and from the islands. Once on the island you'll notice what appears to be a small beach party with things such as volleyball and Ping-Pong tables’ right there on the sand. Most of the amenities for tourist have been shuttled over by the cruise ships, such as fresh fruit and other food, drinks, and other luxeries. You will see some local merchants set up at portable tables selling hand made jewelry made from beads, sharks teeth, interesting stones, and other available objects of the natives. The natives will often give you a warm welcoming and seem to be very laid back, fun people. They will encourage visitors to play volleyball and participate in other fun activities on the island.

     During March, the water is generally crystal clear and a bright aqua in color. The water feels almost as if you're wading in a giant bathtub. The water is warm, beautiful, and very inviting. The waves are small and if you brought a raft, you will be gently rocked by these waves. The beach is very open and the decline is very slight until you get close to the roped off boundaries of the ocean. DO NOT go past these ropes as the depth drops off rapidly and the channel has a very strong current. besides, there is plenty of room to frolic and enjoy the water without going out past these markers. Bring a snorkel!

     Some cruises to the fanning’s offer a waiter in the water. decked out in a tuxedo top and black shorts, they will walk around in the water and offer you drinks. You don't even have to get out of the water to ask for a glass of juice. People of all ages will enjoy the fanning islands. One thing to remember is that there are no real stores on some of these islands and you should remember to bring simple things like sun block, towels, and maybe a little nibble if you're not into pineapple and coconut. You will probably spend a full day on the island, so take anything you may need for an eight hour period. Most of all, have fun!  the Fanning’s are like nothing most people have ever experience. The warm water and tranquil environment are things that you will never forget!


                                                                                                                                                                 - CFK STAFF




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