Wicked places in Australia and Pacific
Four-fifths of Nauru's land area is apparently covered in phosphate deposits. Those were once very valued, so in 1907 the mining started. Over time it created a big business, which is still evident today. In the outskirts of Boe lies a huge dilapidated phosphate factory. Though it was abandoned many years ago, the entrance is still (lightly) guarded.
Moqua is a cave system filled with freshwater and is probably Nauru's most exciting sight. The anonymous entrance is small and leads down to a platform of rocks. From this point the cave doesn't look very exciting or big, but if you step into the waist deep water (which you should) and venture further in, the cave expand in all directions except height. Sadly, there are some trash and graffiti, but it doesn't make it a less adventures. The cave system is connected to the underground lake, Moqua Well, which is an important source for freshwater. Rumor says the system extend to more than 3 km, but don't explore deeper than you can always get out. The story goes that the locals used the cave to hide in from the Japanese occupation forces. Moqua Cave is difficult to find, but use our marker to locate it. There is a container at the road and at the end of the driveway is a house with “Maqoa That” written on it. Follow the trail to the left to you reach a square out of bricks. The cave entrance is to the right-hand side.
You can't say Nauru without saying Australian refugee camps. There are 3 camps with an unknown number of refugees plus all the Australian employees. The camps are of course highly guarded, but you fly over them when arriving to Nauru. Some of the refugees roam freely on Nauru, but can of course not leave (unless they choose to go back to their home country).
Turtle Pool is this wicked place, where a local family for decades has held a dozen of seaturtles captured in a fenced off part of a lagoon. It's a rare opportunity to swim or snorkle with seaturtles. When we visited in low season, we were the only one in the pool, but it's probably a differet story in high sesson. Whether you want to support such a business is entirely up to you. If you want a chance to see seaturtles in the wild, head to the viewing platform over the lagoon behind the Lava Church further up the main road. If you’re lucky, seaturtles will stick their head up for breathing.
Seven big coral boulders tossed inland by an ancient tsunami, maybe 7000 years ago. The seven boulders sit anomaly in the otherwise flat landscape. The biggest boulder is believed to weigh more than 1,600 tons and is suspected to be the heaviest thing ever moved by a tsunami, giving an indication of how big the ancient Tonga tsunami must have been.
When the airstrip on Fongafale Islet isn't in use - and that's often - it's a recreational area. All kinds of ball games, weightlifting, bike riding, running, you name it, will take place here in the cooler afternoon.
Tuvalu's source of income are fishing licences, leasing their internet domain name extension .tv and stamps, though the stamp business has significantly declined in recent years. However, you can still buy stamps from the little post office. There is also a small exhibition showing Tuvalu stamps commemorate everything from international events and famous people to wildlife and daily life items - and even their .tv domain name.
Tuvalu isn't boasting with attractions, so any remotely interesting thing becomes a potential sight. Along the shore near the port are a few shipwrechs in various states of disintegration. One was formerly a fishing boat, which got destroyed by Cyclone Bebe in 1972. The shipwrecks are joined by rusting cars, buses and engine parts.
Tuvalu National Bank must be a strong candidate as the smallest National Bank. The functional bank is no bigger than a small shop. There are no ATM, but they can change money.
The John Frum cargo cult is a very strange religious movement. It all started in the 1930s when Vanuatu was still a colony and heavily influenced by Christian missionaries. A (fictional) character named John Frum appeared to some elders on Tanna island and encouraged them to reject the white man's oppression (Christianity, plantations, monogamy, etc.) and go back to their traditional customs that else had been banned by the missionaries. If they did, John Frum would return with an abundance of goodies. Luckily for the cult, they did not have to wait long for the islands of Vanuatu were used as military base by the Americans during the WWII. With them came a lot of nice cargo, just as John Frum had promised, and the US soldiers didn't mind sharing with the locals. Since then, the John Frum believers practice weird rituals like parading with bamboo "rifles", raising the flag of USA, worshiping the Red Cross - and less weird rituals like the weekly Friday night dancing - in the hope that John Frum will send a new wave of heavenly cargo.