Nauru header


Finding a way to physically sneak into Nauru, country 174, without a visa on the Pacifying the Pacific adventure.

My original plan to visit the tiny country of Nauru was to fly from Tarawa stay for 5 days and catch the next flight out to the Marshall Islands.

Unfortunately while processing my visa, I got the following email back from the consulate in Brisbane.

Hi David,
I regret to inform you your application for tourist entry to Nauru has been cancelled due to new Nauru Govt policy. A stop has been put on all tourist applications from Australia and New Zealand until further notice and as such I will be unable to proceed with processing your application.
You will need to speak to the airline to discuss refund arrangements.
My apologies for the inconvenience caused.

Well thank you very much! I then had to scramble to figure out what I would do.

I was so stressed I even made a list of possibilities.

Entering Nauru Possibilities

  1. Business Visa: Get a one day business visa for a meeting. Set up a meeting. Contact Suva office for visa.
    1. Success 20%
    2. Arrested 0%
    3. Miss flight 10%
  2. Tourist Visa: Go apply for tourist visa at front. Explain i just want to see parliament building.
    1. Succes 5%
    2. Arrested 0%
    3. Miss flight 10%

I contacted the Nauru High Commission in Fiji to try to get a business visa, but no luck especially not in that short of a time frame (and not having any real business to do). Scratch option 1.

I found an itinerary that would work with my current flight bookings. A roundtrip ticket to Honiara, the Solomon Islands, arrives and departs just a few hours before my other flights. This would make my stops in Nauru transits so at least I would be able to land in the country.

Before I knew it, I was on the Nauru Airlines flight to Nauru. The country appeared from under the clouds and I couldn’t believe how small it was. This small dot in the ocean was an entire country.

We landed and everyone had to get off of the plane. There were two lines, one for visitors and one for transiting (though they weren’t marked at all). I started in the visitor line with an entry card all filled out. The immigration officer found out I was transiting and sent me right to the other line. Though she did give me a stamp in my passport as a souvenir.

Nauru Airport

Getting through the transit line, I was guided up the stairs to a waiting room. If I went into the baggage claim to the right, I would be entering the airport, but there was still another customs check before leaving the room.

Nauru Airport Painting Detail

With only an hour or so, I didn’t have much time on this layover and just caught my flight to the Honiara.

Meanwhile I knew the layout of the airport and contemplated the possibilities of exiting the airport on my next visit. I added to my notes.

Entering Nauru Possibilities – Continued

  1. From the runway, run up the stairs, jump the fence to the viewing platform and exit.
    1. Success 100%
    2. Arrested 75%
    3. Miss flight 50%
  2. Go through staff baggage area: Get stamp then go to back and go through baggage claim asking for the lost and found. Go through office from the staff entrance and go to check in.
    1. Success 30%
    2. Arrested 10%
    3. Miss flight 10%
  3. Sneak in through baggage claim: After getting stamp and going up towards the transit hall, turn around and go back down through the baggage claim room. Through baggage ask for the lost and found. Get into the airport hall.
    1. Success 15%
    2. Arrested 10%
    3. Miss flight 10% 

Ideally I would be able to step foot into the country (outside of the airport) without getting arrested and catching my flight. I wouldn’t want to miss it and be stuck in Nauru until the next one a week later.

I could definitely run up the stairs and physically touch the ground outside of the airport, but as the fence is right in the open, I was definitely going to get arrested if I tried that.

Option 2 would be great, if I could get through the baggage area and if they had a separate entrance which I wasn’t sure about.

The last option seemed like the most credible one, especially as I had lost my sweatshirt on the plane, so it was a perfect excuse to leave the transit area. Though leaving the area as a transit passenger could get me in trouble and I would definitely have to go through customs.

After my week in Honiara on my second visit to the Solomons, I was back on a Nauru Airlines flight to the island.

Nauru Boarding

The process was the same as last time. I went directly to the transit line this time and as there were many people lined up, I took the transit card and shoved it into my pocket. Then I went to the luggage belt and walked behind it to ask a baggage handler if I could check their lost and found area. He immediately told me to leave the staff area and go back on the other side of the belt. Scratch option 2.

On the other side he said he would check these different rooms for my sweatshirt, which he did and reported that it wasn’t there, which was good otherwise I would not have an excuse to check the office.

I went to a customs officer sitting idly by and asked if I could check the office. He said I could but asked for my customs card. I didn’t have it with me this time, so I asked if someone could go with me and looked at a younger guy next to him. He said sure and commanded the other guy to walk me into the hall. Score!

The guy led the way but seemed pretty bored with his new assignment. I asked him to wait for a second and I headed in the opposite direction to the check in line. I asked there if they had my sweatshirt and they said “no”.

I then headed to the office, but walked outside to the parking lot. My guide was sitting down relaxing. Outside there was a small parking lot with really nothing around. The ocean was a bit far to run to, as it was across the runway and there weren’t any taxis. So I scrapped that idea. Still, I had stepped out onto Nauru soil outside of the airport! I took out my phone and snapped some selfies with my Nauru tourist shirt on.

Country 174, count it!

Nauru David

Back in the airport I checked at the office without expecting much as someone probably took my lost item. As suspected they didn’t have it either. I went back to the customs guy who was sitting there and we went back into baggage claim.

Nauru Transit Lounge

And with that, I walked through to the transit lounge and got another stamp in my passport. Unfortunately I didn’t experience much in Nauru, but then again, there wasn’t much to do.

A reminder of the phosphate industry.
A reminder of the phosphate industry.

The good news is I achieved my goal without getting arrested and caught my flight to Majuro. The bad news is I didn’t get to fully explore the island and see the refugee camp, visit the old phosphate mines, and climb the hill with the Japanese guns from WWII. Maybe one day I’ll be back!


About David

Founder and writer at, David is on a mission to travel to every country in the world and has less than 10 countries left! He loves new adventures, unique cultures, historic landmarks, and luxurious hotels. Follow along as David shares a journey of a lifetime!