To be honest, we thought our travels this year may have been a little easier. We had fewer countries to visit (16 to be exact) and we tried to plan ahead more than usual this time by reserving all of our flights in the Pacific.

how to visit every country in the pacific tuvalu coconut

Logistically speaking, arranging flights to get around in the Pacific Islands isn’t an easy task. It takes many, many hours of research and planning. When it comes to paying for all the flights to get between islands, it made us nauseous – it does not come cheap.

This is easily the most expensive part of the world to travel to.

We were satisfied that the route we’d chosen to visit 8 of the 10 countries we had left in the Pacific was solid. We didn’t have the time to visit the other three countries before we had return flights booked back to Europe/Africa in early March.

Besides, we always imagined our last country to visit in the world would be somewhere in the Pacific.

After the latest series of unfortunate events that have happened to us over the past few months, our travel plans are all over the place due to the number of flight cancellations and re-routings we’ve encountered and the ongoing threat of the spread of coronavirus across the entire world.

This leg of our journey through (some) of the Pacific happened like this.

We got stranded in the Pacific! But Let’s start with Vanuatu

vanuatu travel guide

Check out our Travel Guide to Vanuatu. We tried to cover everything you need to know if you’re planning a visit. The food markets were fantastic here! A highlight for me was the fresh fish and coconut curries from the main market in Port Vila.

Don’t forget about the 5 Foods you need to try when you visit Vanuatu – we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised about how good this cuisine really is.

Time to slow down in Tonga

After Vanuatu, we then spent a fantastic week in Tonga. We easily slipped into the slow and steady pace of life here and loved the sense of community of the Tongan people.

This is a destination for those who love to escape the tourist trail – it’s authentic, raw, and real. It feels like attending church and spending time with family are top priorities. Of all of the Pacific island nations, in our opinion, Tonga is one of the more affordable ones.

tonga on a budget

We found that it’s very possible to travel to Tonga on a budget. There are some great budget accommodation options for those travellers looking to keep costs down so you have more time to enjoy the natural beauty.

RELATED POST – Best Budget Accommodation Options in Tonga

Tuvalu – one of the tiniest countries in the world

Next, we moved on to one of the tiniest countries in the world – Tuvalu. It’s not the easiest (or cheapest) island to reach, but after endless views of the dark blue ocean from the plane, these islands pop up with striking turquoise and green colours.

From above, it’s hard to imagine that life is possible here. One thing is for certain here, the warmth of the people was immediate.

If you are planning to visit, you will find all the necessary information in our post about how to travel to Tuvalu.

It gives you an idea of what to expect here if you visit and how to plan it all. Perhaps you’ll be one of the 2000+ visitors that makes the effort to see Tuvalu per year.

Tuvalu #visiteverycountry

On the runway in Tuvalu

One of our favourite things in Tuvalu was spending time with locals on the airstrip – the hub and social scene of the country.

We departed Australia in late January. Our first Pacific nation to visit was Vanuatu. And it was all smooth sailing. We really enjoyed exploring the main island of Efate and we discovered some great beaches and snorkelling spots.

The first cancelled flight of many

After spending a few days on this really likable little island, news came by chance that our onward flight to our next destination, Kiribati was then cancelled.

We found out the day before our departure (by asking a small travel agency there, not communicated to us by the airline, Air Kiribati) and we immediately started trying to source alternative options, which we already knew were limited.

We spent the entire day at this travel agency trying to make arrangements with Air Kiribati over the phone and via email. The only other airline that services Tuvalu is Fiji Airways. They have a flight a few times a week back to Suva, Fiji.

The kicker here is that every flight back to Fiji over the next 8 days was completely full. Oh no! We could literally see our entire onward itinerary of at least ten more reserved flights simply fall apart if we couldn’t find two seats on these flights back to Fiji to try and catch up.

In the end, after communicating with Air Kiribati for hours on end, the ONLY option was for them to place us both on a waitlist on the flight leaving the day after tomorrow. If that didn’t succeed, we had confirmed seats on the flight departing in 8 days, which would ruin our entire Pacific itinerary.

Will we catch this flight or get stranded in the Pacific on Tuvalu for weeks?

We arranged another night at our hotel which is nice, but it’s expensive. Our fingers were crossed that luck would be on our side the following day. There must be two seats available for us – we had to get off the island and get back on track with visiting these countries we’d planned in the Pacific.

stranded in the pacific waiting at tuvalu airport for a flight out

Stranded in the Pacific and waiting at Tuvalu airport for a flight out

The flight to Fiji was supposed to depart at 11.20 am and the airline staff told us to come at 11.00 am. Of course, we arrived a little earlier and let them know that we were on the waitlist and we’d sit over there, but clearly in their line of sight so they didn’t forget about us. The staff were very friendly and seemed to be ‘on the ball’.

Suddenly the siren blasts outside – this is what they do in Tuvalu to alert everybody to clear the airstrip when there is a plane soon to land. Our hearts were pounding as we carefully watch for the ladies from the small airline desk to call us over with good news.

Yasss! They’ve got a few spare seats – we’re good to go! We immediately walk through the security check with our carry-on backpacks in tow and soon after we felt elated to board the flight and be on our way.

how to travel to tuvalu Marty leaving Tuvalu

Yes! We’ve got a flight to continue on with our travels around the Pacific

At this stage, we’ve accepted the fact that we cannot reach Kiribati now. The flight connections from Fiji are just not in our favour.

We had already lost one additional night spent in Tuvalu and now we must stay in Fiji for two additional nights (a country not even on our list as we’ve already travelled here before) before we catch up on our itinerary and head towards Nauru.

There’s always a silver lining

The best part about our unplanned stopover in Fiji was that we got to see one of our very good travel friends, GG. Originally, we met this guy a few months back in Burundi, Africa. GG is also visiting every country. We met at the embassy of Burundi in Rwanda, both trying desperately to get visas to cross into the country overland.

It was a funny story, you can read about the struggles we had trying to secure this visa here.

GG is also visiting all of the nations in the Pacific, yet travelling the opposite way to us. It didn’t surprise us that his onward flights were cancelled too. Needless to say, we had such a good time catching up with GG in Fiji (that rhymes).

See the whole country in less than a half-hour

Approaching the small island of Nauru is a weird experience. After hours of looking down to see the ocean, suddenly a small island pops up. The landing looks as though you’re about to nosedive straight into the water, but right at the end, land appears and we touchdown.

how to get a visa for nauru