The islands of Tuvalu are not your typical tourist destination. According to the tourism site for this Pacific paradise boasts nothing but beauty, relaxation, a bit of history, and the perfect tropical escape, there's more to these islands than just meets the eye - in reality, this paradise is slowly sinking. Children in this country learn about climate change at the age of only six-years-old, as their home is now predicted to be underwater within the next 100 years; potentially 50 years if things continue at the rate they're going.
With that being said, the island is still open for tourists however, locals continuously try to convey a message to those who visit: What was once a dream destination, the perfect tropical escape, might soon be only a memory. Rising sea levels pose a bigger threat with each year that passes and those who call Tuvalu home have already braced themselves to lose even more land to the ocean that surrounds them. While tourism is still ongoing, it means nothing if vacationers don't realize the severity of the threat to islands - while Tuvalu adds next to nothing in furthering global warming, major countries to the north are slowly speeding up its demise.
The Best Information Is Knowledge
Considering a trip to Tuvalu? The best way to learn about this beautiful island is to experience it and get a feel for what it's like to call a place such as this 'home.' While Tuvalu is not a high-activity destination, it is perfect for those who want to kick back and enjoy relaxing at a leisurely pace. The culture of these South Pacific islands is evident in everything travelers can experience, from the food to the entertainment and even accommodations. Snorkeling, diving, swimming, and enjoying its pristine beaches are all part of daily life here. However, travelers can also do much more for this island than simply appreciate the nature and beauty of the surrounding landscape.
In Nanumea atoll, travelers can help by an activity called mangrove planting which helps to repopulate the plants that are so important to the ecosystem. Mangroves are helpful in the local fisheries and also give the island a natural barrier of protection against seawater surges. Resources from these plants have also become an important part of daily life, as they're used in creating things such as crafts and for firewood, thus ensuring that the island's residents can live as comfortably - and as safely - as possible.
Learning about the local culture is time worth spent in Tuvalu as well. On the island, 'Maneapa' means 'town hall' and this is where travelers can observe traditional dances and ceremonies, giving newcomers a newfound appreciation for the island and its inhabitants.
Nightclubs are also available in various towns along the islands and are a great way for travelers to mingle with locals and learn even more about the Tuvalu way of life. Visiting the Women's Handicraft Centre is a wonderful way to learn about the traditional crafts that started in the South Pacific islands, including weaving, woodcarving, and jewelry-making - it's also a great way to support local businesses!
The island of Tuvalu also played a large role during the Second World War, as many Americans were stationed in the islands and evidence of that can be seen with a short trip to the village in Nanumea. There, travelers can see a World War II-era wreck that was left behind on the islands along with other planes that have been left in the scrub. The isle of Motulalo houses more wrecks that have since been overtaken by nature and become part of the local reefs and are used by marine life.
Funafuti atoll was the main point of contact during the war but also holds another secret called 'David's Drill.' During the 18000s, experimental drilling was done to see whether volcanic rock could be found beneath the islands and while many came up negative, submerged volcanoes were finally found at a depth of 1,000 feet. This aftermath of this drilling can still be seen in the village on Funafuti atoll, so there's no shortage of historical locations to visit in Tuvalu.
What's Next For The Islands?
With countries such as the US and Australia continuously burning coal, there aren't many options for islands such as Tuvalu who, according to The Guardian, make up only .06% of emissions. The prime minister of the islands says that evacuating is a last resort, and options for raising the land, as well as constructing a floating island, have been suggested, but thus far none have been put into action. From the air, the devastation to the island can clearly be seen - and while these islands were once a beautiful tourist destination, now they might be the only ones who can listen, and push for action, for the tiny island the world refuses to hear.