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Tuvalu is way ahead of the United States: Tuvaluans are already enjoying a relaxed Saturday beach barbeque while we in the U.S. are still sitting at our desks counting the seconds before the Friday workday ends. This is because Tuvalu lies west of the International dateline and 620 miles north of Fiji in the central Pacific, just below the equator.

Tuvalu’s smaller, uninhabited atoll islets surrounding its lagoons are a unique attraction to visitors, rarely found elsewhere. The natural flora of Tuvalu comprises only a restricted number of species: pandanus and salt-tolerant ferns predominate. The few areas of atoll scrub are interesting and provide a valuable nesting habitat for birds. Other rare habitats include the uncommon, but important, mangrove areas.

The Funafuti Conservation Area (FCA) on Funafuti covers 13 square miles of water and land on the western side of the atoll. It includes reef, lagoon, channel, ocean, and islands habitats. There are six uninhabited islets with native broadleaf forest and coral sand beaches that are located within the protected area and are home to coconut crabs, nesting seabirds, and green turtles. A variety of colorful fish can easily be seen in the clear blue lagoon while coral reefs and bommies provide for excellent snorkeling and scuba diving

Visitors on Funafuti enjoy picnicking, sightseeing, and swimming in the beautiful conservation area. However, fishing, hunting, and collecting of animals and marine plants is prohibited.