Kiritimati – also known as Christmas Island – is one of the Northern Line Islands of Kiribati. It has the largest land area (642 km2, 248 mi2) of any coral atoll in the world and by itself represents the majority of the land area of Kiribati.
- London - main city and port
- Banana - near the airport
The island got its names from its discovery by Capt. James Cook on Christmas Eve in 1777. Christmas became Kiritimati (pronounced roughly "kee-rees-mass") in the local Gilbertese language.
Because of its position just west of the International Date Line, Kiritimati is the first inhabited island to begin each new day and year, and attracted a bit of Y2K tourism to celebrate that.
The entire island is a wildlife sanctuary, with five areas that require permission to visit.
The temperature on the island is constant year round, with highs of 29-31°C (85-87°F) and lows of 24-25°C (75-77°F). August through December is the dry season, with 0-2 cm (0.1-0.6 in) of rain per month during this period. April is the wettest month with 21 cm (8.1 in) of rain. The island is greatly affected by El Niño/La Niña weather patterns and is prone to periods of drought. Average yearly rainfall is 873 mm (34.4 in), which can drop as low as 177 mm (7.0 in) in exceptionally dry years or skyrocket to 2,500 mm (98 in) in especially wet years (particularly El Niño years). The island is buffeted by relatively constant trade winds of around 10 knots (20 km/h, 12 mph), gusting to over 25 knots (46 km/h, 30 mph) at times.
- 1 Cassidy International Airport (CXI IATA) (near the village of Banana). The island's airport which is served only by Fiji Airways on its once-weekly Nadi (Fiji) – Christmas Island – Honolulu (Hawaii) route. Due to the great distance between the Line Islands and the rest of the country along with the fact that the only other operational airports in Kiribati are found in the Gilbert Islands, there are no domestic flights. In order to reach the Gilbert Islands, travelers must fly via Nadi on Fiji Airways which operates a twice weekly Nadi–Tarawa flight.
There is only one main road that goes from the airport through London, the main village, and there is public transportation through that route.
There are many things to do and see in Kiritimati, Cook Island has a huge number of birds; while scuba diving you can see thousands of species of fish and coral, ship wrecks, turtles, etc. Fishing is also another very popular activity at Christmas Island.
The main two main activities in the island are scuba diving and fishing; being the largest coral atoll in the world, Kiritimati offers an impressive number of places to dive and things to see under the water. There is only one scuba diving service, Dive Kiribati, 011 (881) 631-442-811.
Almost every week there is a cruise ship stopping by the island, this is the best opportunity to find local handcrafts when people come out to sell them.
It's common to have the meals included in the vacation packages, but if you decide to "eat out" there are two Chinese restaurants in the island; the one closer to the petrol station is relatively better.
Despite the remoteness of the island, most of the things you can buy are very inexpensive: for example, a soft drink costs about 1.50 (AUD) and a beer 2.50 (AUD). You can bring up to 1 litre of spirits and they also make a local alcoholic drink made out of coconut palm tree.
There are around 4 hotels in the island, the most common one is operated by the government (Captain Cook) and its located a few miles from the largest village, London; most of the hotels offer all-inclusive services and their prices vary from 70 - 150 AUD.