Nauru has only four accommodation options:
Hotel Meneñ (160 AUD per night) with approximately 110 rooms is the largest hotel. Enjoying a great setting on a cape amid rock pinnacles, it has definitely seen its best days. Lonely Planet already in 2006 noted that a refurbishment was needed, and that has not happened by 2017. TripAdvisor commenters generally advise to have very low expectations. With such, I found the place quite pleasant (if you forget the excessive prices): Power, warm water and air-con worked properly, and the room was clean. The hotel even provided free airport transfers and did not charge early check-in. The main backdrop: Communication. Online booking is not possible (same applies for all other accommodation in Nauru), and the reception does not react to e-mails except if you call them to remind. Tel. +6745578020 / +6745573300 / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com.
Hotel Od’n Aiwo is a cheaper and more modest alternative to Meneñ. Its location is great, smack in downtown Nauru. They equally do not react to e-mails. Tel. +6744443701 / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com.
Capelle & Partner department store in Ewa rents out a couple of rooms which are sometimes advertised as Ewa Lodge. According to the 2006 Lonely Planet, they are the best option in Nauru – however a bit remote for Nauruan standards. Same communication behaviour found here. Tel. +6745571000 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hotel Budapest seems to be a newly opened place in Anabar, and the most expensive option in Nauru. I passed by, but couldn’t make out a hotel – maybe there is no sign. Tel. +6745583697 / email@example.com / budapesthotelnauru.com.
Nauru never had an own currency and uses the Australian Dollar (AUD) instead. There is only one ATM, at the reception of Hotel Meneñ. The Bendigo Bank branch in the Civic Centre (Aiwo) – Nauru’s only bank – changes money. However, do not count on these options bring enough AUD cash.
The only airline serving Nauru is its national carrier, Nauru Airlines (aka Our Airline). With its two Boeing 737-100, Nauru Airlines connects the island with Brisbane (three weekly), Honiara, Nadi, Tarawa, Majuro, Kosrae and Pohnpei (all once weekly). The flight schedule is not very convenient, since the planes do not operate on Monday and Tuesday – they’re serving Australia’s Norfolk Island then.
Republic of Nauru Airport, Yaren District
Nauru’s main axis is the 17 km island ring road. Cycling that road in roughly one hour shows impressively how small the country is.
On the ring road, buses travel approximately hourly in each direction. Apparently, they are for free. For visitors, however, it is usually far more useful to rent a vehicle. Both Hotel Menen and Capelle & Partner rent out bicycles (15 AUD at Menen), moto scooters and cars. For discovering the topside sights, bicycles are the best options. There are two taxis, both operated by stranded refugees (one Iranian and one Somali) – ask any local to get the numbers.
Cycling Topside: The roads in Nauru’s interior are not paved
There are two supermarkets: Eigigu in Aiwo’s Civic Centre, and Capelle & Partner in Ewo. Eigigu sells some takeaway food. Lots of small, mostly Chinese-owned shops line the island ring road.
Nauru’s culinary landscape, previously mainly consisting of fast food and Chinese joints, has benefitted from the settlement of refugees. My personal favorite was Island Café (Boe, 300 m west of the airport, watch out for the sign), an Iranian restaurant serving different kebabs and other regional dishes to Nauru’s constantly growing Persian community.
Hotel Menen’s Restaurant Anibare serves Chinese and Western dishes.
Restaurant Bay (across the street from Anibare’s fish market) has Pakistani cooks and offers Indian and Western food.
Bondi Beach in Yaren, a favourite expat hangout with Lebanese food, unfortunately has closed down recently. The sign is still there.
Copa Cabana in Denigomodu is another refugee-run restaurant.
Tropical Café, part of Capelle & Parner in Ewo, is the option of choice when dining in Northern Nauru.
Island Café’s Kebab-e Kubideh – an Iranian classic
Container Cafe in front of Aiwo’s Civic Centre serves the island’s best coffee (5 AUD)
Hotel Meneñ’s Reef Bar is the place to party. There’s live music or DJs on Friday and Saturday nights, attracting local and expat crowds. It’s also very loud in Meneñ’s hotel rooms these nights.
According to Wikitravel, a club named Jules has opened in Denigomodu – the location is marked on Google Maps.
Most tourists (except for Russians and some Pacific nations) need a visa to enter Nauru. In order to get a visa, contact Mr. Rajeev Keerthiyil of Nauru’s Department of Justice and Border Control via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). In order to obtain the visa, you need to file via e-mail in the following documents:
- Completed visa application form
- Scan of passport biopage
- 1 passport sized photograph (digital version, obviously)
- A police certificate as to your lack of criminal record, or your criminal record if any*
- A certificate of medical fitness (including certificate that chest x-ray and blood tests have been conducted and have not shown any contagious disease or serious abnormality)*
- Confirmed hotel booking in Nauru
- Your flight tickets
- Your travel itinerary to/from Nauru and other Pacific nations, if applicable
- Support letter of your employer or any other proof of employment
- Citizens of Australia and New Zealand also require a letter from a sponsor in Nauru.
* I did not need to file in these two documents, courtesy of Mr. Keerthiyil.
That all sounds quite horrible, but it is quite straightforward to get the papers together. The biggest challenge is clearly to get a hotel booking, since Nauru’s hotels neither allow online booking nor answer to e-mails.
Once all documents are filed in (via e-mail), it takes the Nauruan authorities one week to consider them. During that time, you are supposed to pay the visa fee (50 AUD) on Nauru’s account of Australia’s Bendigo bank, which might again be a little challenge if you don’t happen to be in Australia.
Once the visa is approved, you will get a pdf letter confirming that entry approval has been granted to you. Upon arrival in Nauru, you are to present this letter to the border guards, which then stamp the visa into your passport.
Read more on my entry into Nauru in this article.
Nauru’s only post office is located in the Civic Centre in Aiwo. It sells a range of commemorative stamps, but I have bought the last two post cards they had. I sent them on 20 October 2017, and by end of November 2017, they have not arrived yet.
Mobile phones in Nauru run on the Digicel network, which has no roaming contracts with foreign networks, so your phone will be dead in Nauru unless you buy a SIM card at their shop in the Civic Centre. The card costs 10.50 AUD, including a credit of 5 AUD. The 500 MB data package for another 10.50 AUD (valid 7 days) seemed a fairdeal to me – especially compared to the internet prices at Hotel Menen (20 AUD for 24 hours, 50 AUD for one week).
Nauru Post Office is located in the Civic Centre, Aiwo District