If you’re an adventurer in need of a break from a frenetic Western lifestyle, you’ll adore Niue Island. Here, you can experience handsome limestone cliffs, a relaxed, welcoming pace and some spirited exploration.
With the safety and charm of the South Pacific making the region the new “it” destination for international travellers, Niue (pronounced New-ay) offers an adventurous alternative to endless white sand. One of the world’s smallest self-governing nations (with a population around 1,700), Niue Island is a 259 km2 rocky outcrop sitting bang in the centre of the Pacific Ocean, between Tonga and the Cook Islands.
You’ll find sandy beaches on Niue, but they’re tucked amongst cliffs and caves. The island’s landscape is ruggedly arresting: the top of a underground mountain, Niue’s fields and forests were once a coral lagoon. A limestone shelf skirts the island’s circumference. At low tide, this offers excellent reef-walking, with fissures in the limestone providing azure pools full of fish, crabs and various corals.
Around the island, another coral shelf drops down about 10m, and gently slopes out to a third drop (at the edge of the underground volcano). As there are no creeks or rivers on Niue, there’s no sediment, so the warm ocean is impossibly hyperclear – diving visibility is, on average, 30-40m. Australians Ian and Annie at Niue Dive have discovered some excellent sites, with highlights including cave diving, hard corals, sea snakes and a huge range of fish.
With hire car or motorcycle, you’re set to explore the island’s roads and tracks, once you’ve obtained a colour-photocopied local licence from the police station. A couple of tours can be booked at the visitor centre, including Huvalu Conservation Area tours, deep sea fishing and cave visits. Don’t miss local identity Misa’s nature tour.
Niue’s Sundays are quiet days, as, thanks to the influence of a century of European missionaries, the Sabbath is religiously observed. Boats don’t sail, and you can’t swim at some village beaches. Most Niueans spend Sunday mornings in church, eat an “umu”-baked lunch, and doze the afternoon away. Follow local customs, and maybe stir for a late-afternoon stroll. Sometimes, you just shouldn’t resist island tradition.
Talpacific Holidays specialises in the South Pacific: www.talpacific.com
Accommodation on Niue ranges from basic to 3-star. The Matavi is a large hotel with 180° views of the coastline, and Namukulu Motel and Coral Gardens have self-contained bungalows.