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Dive Review of Ikari House in
Kiribati (Christmas Island)

Ikari House, Aug, 2013,

by Peter Deegan, Erskineville, AU ( 1 report with 1 Helpful vote). Report 7099 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 2 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 2 stars
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments The dive sites are pleasant and pristine. Lots of hard coral and many small fish which makes for a lovely underwater view. Visibility is usually 30 metres but if there’s rain or tides unfavorable that can drop to 10-15 meter vis.
Water is warm – around 28°C, I didn’t need a wetsuit.
You definitely need a hat, sunscreen and covering when above the waterline.
Most dives were 18m or less. The dive to Boland Caves went to 25m.
Surface intervals can be enlivened with some fishing for tuna or trevally (catch and release) or, if you’re lucky, some Spinner dolphins will put on a show. Look out for flying fish that can travel an amazing distance across the wave tops.
There are two dive boats. The larger one is preferable since it has a lot more shaded area. The smaller boat ‘Wai Knot’ is big enough for a few divers but lacks shade. There’s no camera bucket on the boat. Ikari House has two-way radios on the boats, van and hotel which are used, among other things, to ensure there’s a van waiting at the dock when boats return.

The drive to the dock from Ikari takes only a few minutes while the trip to dive sites lasts 20 minutes max. Dive sites are not marked and relies on the boat driver and dive guide knowledge. We once spent a tedious 20 minutes just driving around trying to find the right spot to drop anchor.
The dive sites all had a sameness to them. All coral reefs with the same varieties of fish and coral. Some moray and other eels. The Boland Caves site is deeper, about 25 metres, but aren’t really caves. One part is a modest archway while a few minutes away is an overhang.
I had only tantalizing glimpses of larger marine life. One large Green Turtle appeared for a few seconds at Tabwakea Drift before speeding off. A lone dolphin for a fleeting moment – my first while diving!
There’s a large manta ray population feeding in the shallows (snorkeling available but the water is often murky) so presumably there are ‘cleaning stations’ in the area. My dive guide didn’t seem to understand when I asked about cleaning stations. Similarly there are probably some wall dive sites, if only for some variety, but none were on offer.
Overall, the diving was nice but not spectacular nor sufficiently varied. Maybe I was unlucky but there were no regular sightings of rays, sharks or turtles at any site. It’s possible that with a dive guide who chose better sites or just plain luck you could have amazing dive experiences here.
In the end, I was grateful for the 3 day flight delay, since four days of diving was enough.

IKARI HOUSE
I chose Ikari House since it was the only place that offered diving at all. While they mostly serve fisherman, divers are welcome with prior arrangement. Both inside and outside have large tables with plenty of hanging / drying space. There’s no rinse tank, only a small bucket outside each room. Each room has its own hose with trigger nozzle. The setup is good for fishing gear but still serviceable for divers.
The meals are good quality, reputedly the best on the island. Dinner has meat, fish, chicken or lobster with some salad, rice and potatoes.
Wifi is available but being a shared satellite connection it is very slow and erratic. Therefore, webmail isn’t recommended; it’s better to use Outlook or some other email program to get your mail and store it on your laptop or tablet. 24 hours for $10, 1 hour for $1 that you can use as needed over time.
Ikari is close to the wharf, only a few minute’s drive while other Kiritimati hotels are a tedious, speed bumped, 15-20 minute drive away.
With all the good things about Ikari House there’s one big problem – money. Ikari House runs a, shall we say, irregular accounting system. Quotes are a single amount for a week with no breakdown into room, meals, diving etc. At the end of the week there was unnecessary confusion about what has to be paid, particularly on my shortened visit due to the 3 day flight delay. The staff have no change available making final payments difficult, with guests scrambling with each other to get smaller denomination notes. Whether this is just disorganization or deliberate practice I cannot say.
Do not prepay Ikari House, they have a long standing reputation with travelers and sporting fishermen of not refunding monies paid and adding large charges after extra services have been provided.
For this reason I’m reluctant to recommend Ikari House.
If you do choose to stay, get a detailed quote that includes a breakdown of how it is calculated (accommodation, meals, dives etc) what is included and what is excluded. If you ask for additional services, make sure the cost is clear upfront. Take some small Aussie dollar bills to make close to exact payment. Insist on a receipt for cash paid.

Summary
The diving was pleasant but hardly spectacular. After a few days I was seeing much the same coral reefs and marine life just in different locations.
Perhaps with a willingness by the guide/manager to go further from the wharf, better guides or better luck there’s more interesting and varied diving available. Kiritimati certainly seems to have the potential.
Given the difficulties and cost of a trip, there’s probably better places to spend your diving time and money. A mixed fishing and diving trip is a possibility for breaking up a week. The fishermen were having a much better time and it’s a hotspot for sporting fishermen from around the world.

In the end I was strangely grateful to Fiji Airways for the long delay in arriving. After four days of diving I’d seen enough of Kiritimati with no reasonable expectation that the diving would be more varied if I stayed longer.

A longer version of this report, with pictures, is available at office-watch DOT com?1905

Websites Ikari House   Ikari House

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Guam, Yap, Palau, Maldives, Great Barrier Reef AU, Red Sea, Grand Turk, Tahiti, Niue, Papua New Guinea
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 28-30°C / 82-86°F Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 10-30 M / 33-98 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No restrictions, no paperwork / waivers, no c-card asked for. Bring your own gear - only tanks/weights available.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments There's no rinse/storage tanks on the boats nor at Ikari House. You're pretty much left to your own resources.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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