The tiny island of Niue in the South Pacific isn’t really an island – in fact, to be topographically correct, Niue is a raised coral atoll. Aptly named ‘The Rock’, Niue has a population of under 2,000 and just one flight in and out per week. But a holiday in this little piece of paradise will make you feel like you’ve discovered the best-kept secret in the South Pacific. Here’s why.
Because Niue is a coral atoll, the drop-off into the ocean is quick — meaning you can be snorkeling just a few metres from the shoreline yet be staring down into a deep blue abyss. Combined with the fact that there is no river run-off into the ocean, the water visibility is outstanding year round. It is not uncommon for visibility to reach 100 metres, making it the perfect destination for snorkeling and diving. One of the most picturesque swimming and snorkel spots is Niue’s Limu Pools, a series of rockpools which boast warm, clear waters with an array of brightly coloured fish. Just watch out for the odd sea snake.
Ever heard of a country where you can leave your car unlocked at all times? In fact, why not even leave the keys in the car? If you’re dropping off your rental vehicle at the airport at the end of the trip, this is exactly what you’ll do. With one main road around the island, it won’t be hard to catch a thief. Niue is also home to Washaway Bar & Café, which operates on an honesty system. The customer writes down their food and drink order in a book, deposits the money directly into the till and grabs the beer from the fridge.
While some Pacific islands have long sandy beaches and rolling hills, Niue has limestone cliffs, dramatic chasms and pinnacles. You can have your own Indiana Jones style adventure by exploring the impressive caves, chasms and coral formations around the island; this destination is best for those who like to pack a sense of adventure.
With just one flight in and out of Niue each week – both to and from Auckland in New Zealand – you can be sure you’ll have plenty of space to yourself wherever you go. But it won’t feel deserted, as you’ll still be greeted and welcomed at every stop by the friendly Niueans. The busiest time of year is during the dry season, which is typically from May to October, like most Pacific islands.
Every year between July to October, the humpback whales arrive in Niue’s waters. Because the water is so deep close to the island, they can be seen just 20 metres out to sea at times. Niue is one of the few locations in the world where people can swim with the humpback whales. You may even hear their call and song at night.
With such a small population, it’s hard to avoid or ignore the incredible sense of community in Niue. You might arrive as a tourist but you’ll leave feeling like family – and potentially the talk of the town if you get up to anything scandalous.
Don’t forget about the drive-by salute – no, not the rude one-finger salute most people think of, but the friendly raising of your index finger off the steering wheel when passing another motorist. You’ll probably come across as rude and conceited if you choose to ignore this little custom.
Spinner dolphins love to show off in Niue. Wake up to the sight of these friendly mammals twisting and spinning out of the water as if to welcome you to their home. There are boat tours available for those who want to swim with the dolphins, which are usually pretty happy to investigate any boat presence in their playground.