Maybe you found this Web Site because you are going to visit Fanning Island while sailing on the various HAL cruise ships, other ships or sailboats? Congratulations! You are one of the lucky few people in the world who will ever visit and see Fanning Island and its’ beautiful people and exotic scenery. Be sure to view all the video and news clips on this website’s MEDIA page to get a view of the island and some of the best information.

Since 2003, we have been able to sail on various ships to help Fanning Island. Over the years, it has been a true Blessing to meet the many people on the ships (or on land) who have helped, traveled to, or wished they could have gotten on the island. People like a good friend named Nancy seen here when visiting Kona.100_9824 She was on a couple of my past HAL sailings and has helped so much by taking many great pictures which are seen thruought this website. She has also helped many other times on her other sailings to the island by talking to passengers and helping with needs we might have. Thanks much Nancy!
We again thank the many of you who I have met and also received your assistance in this exciting mission-work to help the people of Fanning Island. I could not have done what has been done without everyone’s help. I hope there are more of you that I might meet if you visit Kona and I might be on the pier while I am trying to give information to passengers or supplies to ship. RICH SMITH/PCM Director

We are not affiliated with HOLLAND AMERICA in any way and desire that your voyage and visit to Fanning with them and other ships will be a wonderful experience that will never be forgotten. HAL has however been so helpful to our organization and the other passengers by allowing many supplies to be collected and delivered to the island during the various cruises they do. It is also our hope that you can help the island and not improperly influence its’ development or the people.

Brief note from PCM Director Rich Smith:
There has always been caution on the side of HAL when it comes to passengers involving other passengers to help destinations such as Fanning Island. Since 2009, I had sailed on about 5 sailings with HAL, and over 25 sailings since 2003-2009 with NCL, to Fanning Island.
There has always been a good working relationship between NCL and now the Holland America Corporate office, their ships and me when we partnered together to help the passengers and ship staff arrange and get donated supplies, and deliver them to Fanning. On every sailing, the ships allowed me to do private presentations to any passengers wanting to know more about Fanning Island and also answer their questions how they can help. Most all of the travel consultant’s information and pictures during their presentations came from our organization, so the passengers could get correct information about the island and visiting there. This was one way the ship did their soliciting for help to inform the passengers, without violating the rules.
Rules of no solicitation were always reviewed with me at beginning of the cruise, and before every public presentation, and I abided to their satisfaction. There were no tensions, but always cautions on both of our efforts to inform the passengers, so no solicitation violations would happen.
Viewing this website’s write ups and pictures of past cruises can show you the wonderful partnership we had with HAL to help the passengers and residents of Fanning.

Now a word of caution regarding Feb. 2013 Statendam Cruise Critic Passenger Ann’s(rtdiva) comment she placed on the Cruise Critics Posts: “Soliciting donations via Cruise Critic before the cruise is acceptable but keep a low profile on the ship”.
There are rules by CC about soliciting and collecting/giving donations on the CC posts for a destination. You should be careful about that if you write a post on the CC site.
Informing the passengers off and while on the ship is approved, but yes, no solicitations on ship are allowed.
With that said, Ann(rtdiva) I see you have been posting on the Cruise Critic roll call for your Feb 2013 sailing and show a desire to help get children’s educational books to Fanning. I have a need to try and get about 150 Highlight Children’s magazines (that the company donated) delivered. Would you or any other compassionate person like to help?

Ideally, it would be more equitable to leave things with The Fanning Island Council Donation Committee to be shared with the 7 villages. During the 2011 sailings, the Donation committee was not serving with the best integrity we all hoped for and distribution of the supplies was questionable. Our January 2012 sailing allowed us to meet the new Clerk, customs official and school representative and they seem to now have an effective council committee for receiving and distributing your donations. The Island Mayor, Clerk, customs agent or Council representative should be near the government building where the council office and storage rooms are located, or at the information and donation booth at end of pier to assist you. Please check with Rich Smith to find out the current recommended method of giving supplies so that they will effectively, and with integrity, be given to the people of the island and not be sold or kept improperly. It is our recommendation that you personally give your supplies as gifts to the people individually (if you can in a private setting and in a gift giving manner) but donating them to a general collection event on the ship or on the island is best.

You can have fun visiting the sellers at the market area and finding people or kids in the villages to share your gifts with. Also suggested, is to tour on one of the locals tour trucks or bicycles (if available) up the island and give to people along the side of the road who are selling their crafts or allowing you to take their pictures.
If the schools are in session during the week and not on the weekends or breaks, visiting the schools and giving your supplies is definitely recommended. There are 3 primary schools on Fanning, one Junior, one Secondary and one government boarding High School. Two schools are within walking distance of the pier. Those are the Junior and Secondary School (closest) andNCL Primary School (NCL Primary School which was renamed in honor of the NCL establishment of visits to Fanning in October of 1997).

If you like to bring some thing to share with the people:
Your surplus can be their most important needs

Buying supplies in bulk at Costco and other department stores is recommended. Please NO SUGARY CANDIES, the dental hygiene is generally poor and this adds to making smiling faces toothless faces. Tooth paste, tooth brushes are great gifts (try the dollar stores before going to Fanning)

-Medical supplies for use in the 4 small island clinics are very much needed. Band-aids, cleaning solutions, hand soaps, wound care items and all other health care needs are most needed and important. Treating infections and health matters are a matter of life or death. To see a list of other health needs and supplies to donate view the WISH LIST on this website.

-Educational materials and school supplies are great items to bring and donate

-Sports items, Frisbees, basket balls, tether balls, soccer balls, volleyballs, tennis balls, nets etc.

-New or used tennis/sports shoes that can be used by our local soccer team.

They often play soccer and volleyball with ship crew and passengers on ship day. The larger & wider the better, some have described most of the feet as wide-fat-flat “Flintstone type Feet” from going barefoot.

-Vegetable seeds, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, cucumbers, corn, melons, egg plant, green onions, and others that do well in a hot humid climate

-Musical instruments particularly guitars, ukuleles, keyboards, any thing except more kazoos to the kids on ship day (drives everyone crazy)
-Fish hooks, line and gear
-Used eye glasses (prescription and reading), sunglasses (even scratched ones)

– Some new and good condition clothing is helpful and make for great gifts to those in need, especially the guides that may help you.

– Support the people. There are many opportunities to take pictures of people and tipping them is normal and well received. Usually $1 helps greatly. So, bring lots of single American dollar bills and plan on buying souvenirs at the market to remind you of your special visit to Fanning Island and helping the people with some much needed income.

Cruise ship INFORMATION:

The Holland America Cruise Line has recently included visiting Fanning Island during their voyages to French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Fiji and Samoa Islands since January 2010. There are currently about 3 HAL sailings per year scheduled. Included on this website are newsletter write-ups (see: latest news) describing some of the recent sailings by HAL and the donations of life saving and essential needs of the island. Since 1997, there had been visits by a few of the NCL cruise ships that operated in Hawaii, but they discontinued traveling to Fanning in April of 2009 due to lost revenues and having to travel to a foreign port to fulfill the Jones Act. NCL chose Fanning as the closest foreign port.

We have this to say for those of you who are now worried Holland America or other ships are wrecking the island: On all the different types of tourism, the cruise ship industry offers the LOWEST Environmental Impact. NCL, and nowHolland America going to Fanning has been a good thing for the island and country. Approximately 1,500 passengers arrive per ship, and for most of the day tour, spend their money and go. The Fanning Island Council however receives about $2 for each passenger. This money is a significant important source of income for the people of Kiribati where governmental wages start out at about $1,500 per year and the per capital yearly income could be around $500.

Some of the money earned by the sale of handicrafts at the local market, which is set up during the passengers visit, is being used to help send the children to school for further education, provide communications with CB radios (there are no phones), 12 volt lights and batteries, radios, bicycles, solar panels, water needs, food, clothing and other important needs. Australian and US dollars are best currency.

Island Info:

Weather: HOT and mainly fine with the possibility of short showers. After you get off your air-conditioned climate-controlled cruise ship, the island may seem hot and steamy. To prevent condensation on your camera gear after exiting air conditioning, place cameras in a sealed plastic bags (such as Ziplocs) and let it acclimate to same temperature as outside before using it.

Population: Approx. 2,500-3,500 most of the time

Fanning Island is in the center of the Pacific Ocean. Draw a line from Santiago Chile to Shanghai China, then draw one from Sydney Australia to San Francisco
Where they cross make a microscopic dot. That is Fanning Island. In fact about once every 6 weeks the locals will see a ‘heavy lift’ container ship traveling from Santiago, Chile to Shanghai, China, and about once a month they will see the “Columbus Line” container ship on way to Sydney from San Francisco. They do not stop.
Fanning in 1997 had one working tractor, 3 working motor scooters, one small flat bed truck, about 100 bicycles for the 300 families totaling about 1,900 people.

Today is not much different, there are about 5 flat bed trucks, 20 motor scooters, 270 working bicycles and the population may be around 2,500. There are still no telephones, no electricity, no hotels, no golf courses, no airstrip, no hospital, and they are often out of imported food basics. In just the last couple of years, the secondary school and government building has been able to do satellite internet. A handful of residents may have internet using radio signals. Compared to the West there is nothing.

If you are planning to visit:

-First of all, please try to be as sanitary and as healthy as you can be. The less germs brought to the island the better. Using the hand wash sanitizers on ship, on the Fanning pier or carrying a bottle of hand sanitizer (and extensively using it) could be essential to keeping the islanders (and yourself) healthy. If you are sick and could transmit your sickness, then please do not go to the island. The people may not be immune or handle a new virus very well. Their tolerances could be very low.

-For your COMFORT, do not forget to bring some Insect Repellent. The flies can be annoying and a little repellent (any repellent works well) will make a big difference

-wear lots of sun screen. The sun is very intense there and will burn quickly

-Bring a Sun Hat and a good amount of fluids to drink. It is very hot and dehydration can be possible

-take an umbrella and rain gear the sun is so intense and sometimes rain squalls may happen. You can also use them to shoo dogs away!

-take snack food for energy
-wear good walking shoes, sandals or foot-ware that is comfortable and can do well in muddy water or wet terrain and while walking on loose rocks, sand, coral or the beaches and lagoon swimming area
-take a small bag for the little things you might collect or buy. Do not pick up Cone shells. They can be hazardous and deadly if  they are alive and you are stung. Ask first about dangerous cone shells or other non recommended items to handle or take away.

Don’t buy Trident shells (used as horns and decoration). They are needed in the ocean.

What to see while touring:

Note: there will be a few local English speaking guides to help you tour the villages. Ask them what their fair price is for a tour and tell them what you want to see to get their suggestions and input. The two best ways to see the island are by walking tours and the small truck tours. Bicycles may be available for rent but don’t plan on them being available anymore. [I]Suggested walk[/I]: 1 hr/ 1.5 miles RT: Walk past the new Government Building that will be on left side of road, and the new large Metal roofed Miniava (meeting house) will be on right side of road, and tour one of 7 traditional villages nearby named Aontenna Village. This is where the majority of the houses are traditional thatched roof huts. Keep walking towards the ocean and visit the newly built Health Center. The nurse there will be glad to show you around and answer questions, especially about their needs. Walk further down road and there will be a large cleared area near the ocean which is a Protestant church village. A little further down the road on left side, at the corner of the village, is the small 2 story rock cottage and rock garden of Bruno Delala. This also is a Bed and Breakfast for visitors. Bruno is a Frenchman who is a legend for sailing his little sail boats (he’s lost a few) between Hawaii, Fanning and Tahiti. Along with his daughter Magalee (she is probably working on a cargo ship), they are great people to visit with and see how the best living conditions are on Fanning Island. Feel free to stop in and say hello, bring a few  treats to share. Be sure to visit the cemetery across the road and see the graves. Further down the road are the new Catholic Church and more of the village. A tour of the past NCL compound buildings used during their past cruises is interesting. This is also where the bathrooms are, but probably aren’t working because of lack of fuel to run generators. It is okay to use any open aired or country type of bush, and lagoon swimming area to relieve yourself. It is the norm and the lagoon has a constant current/flushing ability. [I]Suggested truck tours:[/I] This is a great way to travel a good distance up the island and thru the villages. The truck is shaded and have padded benches in the back that can hold about 10 passengers. The ride is slow and bumpy while maneuvering the many potholes and mud puddles. You will be able to see beautiful scenery and family life in the villages and the many different huts and buildings they live in. There may be opportunities to stop and buy some of the family’s crafts usually sold by the little children at their roadside stands. Be ready to take lots of pictures! Doing a walking tour is great, and if you can be in a group led by Naan (and maybe Rich) then you will get the most information and do the tour within about 1-1 1/2 hrs. time.:


Helpful people to the Island:
Hawaii resident Rich Smith, the director of Pacific CARE Missions, has been helping to find and deliver medical supplies toFanning Island since 2003 while sailing on the NCL cruise ships and being a lecturer during the voyages. Recently, he has completed the first HAL voyage to the island during the Jan. 2010, Nov. 2011 and January 2012 sailings. He has visited the island over 25 times now and continues to travel on the available cruise ships that would call on Fanning. He has been able to network with other people who are involved with building the new Health Center on Fanning and meet other important needs that others can help with. Presently he has been able to sail on the Rotterdam and usually brings supplies to help the Health Center and the people on the island, and tries to inform the passengers during the cruise, of the needs and activities available when the passengers arrive for their visit.

Brownsboro Texas resident Carlton Smith is a very compassionate man who also collects supplies and equipment for Fanning, Washington and Christmas Island clinics and also the Capitol island of Tarawa and Christmas Island hospitals. For the most part, Carlton gathers and delivers most of the much need medicines the islands need.

His latest visits and missions have been with visiting Drs. and nurses who diagnose cardiac needs, eye problems and other health needs. Many people have been blessed to have surgeries done locally or in the states, by the visiting drs.

He also is responsible for providing the communications radios that the nurses and facilities use to communicate to each other and the Hospital onChristmas Island.

More about Carlton and his organization can be found on his website:

Littlerock Arkansas resident Rollin Caristianos is another compassionately led person that has an interest to help the people of the Line Islands. After his initial visit on a NCL cruise-ship in ’05 he felt he needed to go back again and bring supplies. He has done that with integrity and during the year of 2010 he has tried fervently to get supplies and equipment, and even animals such as chickens and goats, delivered to the islands. He did do a brief 2 week mission trip in January ’09 with Rich Smith, retired Dentist Bill Molpus and Physical Therapist Stan Harris. Over 2,000 pounds of supplies were delivered by chartering Chuck Corbett’s sailboat, and more than 650 teeth were pulled by Bill and Stan on Fanning and Washington Island. He also did a one week mission trip in January of 2010 to Christmas Island and shipped another 2,000 lbs of supplies, and flew baby chickens on the airplane with him with the hopes that they will be raised for food purposes on Christmas Island and hopefully Fanning Island in the future. Rollin can be reached by phone at: (501) 425-4548

There are so many other important people who have helped in past and it’s our hope you will see the needs and desire to help as well.

Most of all, We hope your visit to Fanning will be a life changing and pleasant one!

For some great historical information about Fanning Island please visit the website of longtime resident Chuck Corbett click here

Books about the Kiribati regions to Read:
The Book of Pukapuka, Robert Frisbee
Kiribati, Aspects of history
Of Men and Islands, H.E. Maude
Pattern of Islands, Author Grimbal
Return to the Islands, Author Grimbal
Robert Louise Stevenson in the South Seas
South Seas Super Cargo
Sex Lives Of Cannibals, Maartin Troost
Cinderellas of the Empire


15 Responses

  1. Hi Rich:
    I am planning on packing a suitcase with extra toothpaste, toothbrushes, pencils, composition notebooks, topical ointments, etc. I am just one of many passengers aboard the HAL Westerdam whom are planning on donating supplies to these islanders. I look forward to my visit to this beautiful island.

  2. Is there a plane landing strip there?

    • Actually there is, but it has not been in use for many years and needs clearing to be operational. There is interest though in getting that done once a grader might me delivered there.

  3. I sailed to Fanning Island on a NCL’s maiden voyage in Dec 2001. Before we went onto the island some of the children were brought aboard the ship to perform for us. I can still remember how mezmorized they were of the ship, food, and people they saw for the first time. The island is beautitiful, the people are warm and sweet. Such a simple beautiful existence. I still have postage stamps and pics we took while there. None of what this article talked about was there when I went, NCL had only just begun building the storage building.
    I think of Fanning Island often and to this day I would love to go back and live there. I
    remember talk back then of eventually moving them off the island, hopefully with enough help they can stay there on their island home. Ill be looking for ways to help. 🙂

    • It is great to hear from some of you 1st timers in the beginning era of Fanning Island visits by NCL. I would love to post any other information of what you were able to do back then during your visit and any photos you might have would be wonderful to see. I would like to make a page available on this website of early visitors stories and pictures for others to learn from. Would you have pictures to share and stories to start the page?
      Kawraba, RICH

      • Hi Rich,
        Absolutely Id love to help. Ill go thru and see what I have as far as pics and stories I can share about our visit. We were told we were the very first visitors ever on the island. You can email me at if ud like
        to directly communicate with me. Looking forward to hearing from you.

  4. Rich, I am getting on in San Diego,, 10/4 and plan to bring a large duffel bag with toothbrushes, paste, shampoo trial sizes, school supplies and maybe some other items for which I have a good source. I also might be able to bring some femcare supplies, but not sure if this fits the culture, this would be pads and tampax items. Any chance the ship would store the duffel bag until we get there? If so, I might bring 2. thanks Dave

    • Hi Dave,
      Thanks for your interest to help Fanning. Are you also a Cruise Critic member?
      It is usually best to hang on to your things until the ship is ready and willing to take possessions. That is best after leaving Hawaii as they have limited storages. They will then be happy to take your items at reception desk and deliver them. Don’t count on them storing and giving back for you to take off. Try to keep in touch and do further discussions with me at my email address:

    • everything sounds good Dave. Check with the ship if they will store your items for Fanning. If not, keep in room till the ship allows collecting.RICH

  5. That is great. Getting seeds for vegetables that grow in hot/dry climates is best.

  6. Kabwearuru Kirata.
    Hi Rich,
    With respect, I would like to thank you and all those involve in donations sent to Fanning on behalf of the Fanning Island donation committee consisting of all council members representing the 7 villages of the island, for your kindly assistance.

    It is of great help to the community to receive donations and we appreciate it very much.

    The Mayor, head of the island for Local Government and members of the Fanning Island Council as well as the Clerk to the island council, regret and are sad to hear that all donations are not served with the best integrity.

    Donations received by all in future will be given to the people with integrity and none sold because we know what we received are gifts and are very special to us because they are at no cost.

    • To you and the council, thank you very much for this email note to assure us you all are concerned and wish to handle all future donations with integrity. It is my hope that the October and April 2012 sailings of the Westerdam can bring many needed supplies. Lets hope for the best and that many supplies can be collected and delivered. RICH

  7. What is the current need for donations .Are reading glasses and sun glasses still needed?

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