Sights around Vaiaku include the open-sided government maneapa next to the airport building where parliament meets, and an old stone lighthouse next to the governor-general's residence to the south.
Not far from the hospital in the northeastern part of the village is the borehole known as David's Drill. Look for a round cement stone marked "NSEW" opposite a church labeled "Mainaga-Tou" near the Nanumaga maneapa. In 1896-1898, scientists sent by the Royal Society of London conducted experimental drilling at Funafuti to test Darwin's theory of atoll formation. The deepest bore (340 meters) failed to reach Funafuti's volcanic base. A second attempt in 1911 was also unsuccessful.
At the north end of the paved road up Fongafale Islet is a horrendous garbage dump. If it's a weekend, you may witness two seemingly incompatible activities here: groups of locals with flowers in their hair, playing volleyball or having a picnic, and vehicles dumping smelly refuse a few meters away. Skirt the debris and cut over to the lagoon side, where a lovely white sand beach extends to the north end of Fongafale, a 20-minute walk beyond the end of the road. Here a wartime bunker lies half buried in the sand.
Farther north is the Tuvalu Maritime Training School on Amatuku Island, which prepares young Tuvaluans for employment on oceangoing ships. Since the school opened in 1979, hundreds of young Tuvaluans have completed 12-month courses here. The classrooms include mock-ups of ship's cabins and dining rooms, where steward trainees are taught how to make berths and set tables. At low tide you can walk across the reef to Amatuku (although you're expected to request advance permission before going).
One should use extreme caution when swimming on the ocean side of the atoll due to the big surf, currents, and coral heads. The lagoon beaches in the populated areas are often used as toilets or garbage dumps by the locals, which makes swimming (or simply walking along the shore) hazardous. In Vaiaku, a small beach where you can swim is beside the concrete wharf a block south of the hotel (there's no beach at the hotel itself). Better lagoon swimming is available a few kilometers north of Vaiaku.
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