A visitor's perspective of Niue

things to see and do
by Dr J Floor Anthoni, Sept 2005
Niue does not offer night life, beaches, shopping and other niceties that the modern tourist expects but in a way it offers more, if one only knew what to look for. This chapter discloses some of Niue's best kept secrets, there for anyone to discover during a visit to Niue. In this document we've restricted ourselves to Niue's natural wonders, which are always available. Its cultural events have been documented in other web sites.
  • introduction: an overview of what you can do and how to plan your time. Mode of transport, skills, safety and more.
  • walking the forest: an unforgettable outing in which you learn about the secrets of the forest
  • going north: what to find going from Alofi northward toward Liku
  • going south: what to find going from Alofi southward towards Liku

For suggestions and improvements, please e-mail the author. Read tips for printing.
-- seafriends home -- Niue index -- sitemap -- Rev 20050930,20051118,20060824,

Most tourists visit Niue for seven to nine days. Few stay longer. Even so, we've met people who didn't know what to do. This chapter helps you get the most out of your visit, and perhaps entice you to come again. It is not our intention to provide what the tourism sector already provides, but to bring Niue to life; and share with you our amazement about what you can discover.
Discover is the right word because unlike most touristic areas in the world, Niue does not have organised trips. It is not even famous for anything in particular. Niueans are not after your money but they welcome you to their Rock and there you are invited to use your initiative to discover what for Niueans has become ho-hum but for outsiders exciting experiences. In general you can do the following activities: Disappointment in Niue has often come from not understanding what it offers, or rather what it does not offer. So here is a list of them: What do you need to bring? One often brings the things one doesn't need while needing the things one didn't bring. Relax. Niue is basic and you are not expected to dress up. Take your most casual gear and not too much of  it either because it can be washed and dried there. Here's my list:

What should you do first? It depends - on the weather and tides. So here is a list of those conditions and what you could do.

vehicles for any kind of transport can be hired
f220607: bikes, motorbikes and cars can be rented at reasonable prices.
swimming in Niue's clear blue sea
f045115: swimming with mask and fins in the giddy blue waters is one of the most enjoyable experiences.
coral wonderland for divers
f047600: a coral wonderland awaits divers. Recovery from cyclone damage is usually rapid.
Niue has many underwater caves
f044829: nearly every reef flat is tunnelled under by extensive cave systems that can be explored on SCUBA. For some a torch is needed.

walking the forest
Niue is fortunate to have Misa Kulatea (pronounce as Koolasha) who is passionate and knowledgeable about Niue's dwindling native forests. Misa lives opposite the High School, where you can make arrangements for his forest walk. It is something not to be missed. 
In a car or small bus you are guided to his patch in the bush, owned by his extended family. You will be given a walking pole, which you'll discover is an important tool to keep your balance on the uneven terrain. The track leads from one small clearing to another, past many interesting items. Each of the clearings has natural seating on logs and in these places Misa brings one surprise after another, including a small snack from Misa's mysterious backpacks.
Misa teaches you about the forest's food and cultural values, how to find your way and how to survive, how to make fire and how nearly every item found in the bush had a purpose.
tall trees over a dark forest
0507457: the trip leads through regenerating bush and through the dark tall rain forest. Bring sensitive film.
Misa shows edible sprouts of an epiphyte
0507446: Misa shows the edible sprouts of a tree epiphyte. In order to survive, one must know what is edible without being cooked.
the beginning of a forest shelter
0507463: in one of the clearings stands the beginning of a primitive but adequate forest shelter. Just weave the epiphyte leaves on and tie them down with strips of tough bark. Then light a smouldering smoky fire to keep insects out.
Within a minute Misa can make fire by rubbing with a stick
0507481: with a stick and bark of the fou tree, Misa shows how to make fire by rubbing the two together. Here he has transferred the smouldering dust to a coconut husk.
Wood from the fou can be turned into fine tissue
0507473: wood from the fou tree can also be soaked and turned into a fine, strong tissue.
Papaya for catching birds and for a snack
0507455:  a papaya (pawpaw) fruit is used to snag birds but it also makes an unforgettable refreshment, sprinkled with lime (a lemon).
a young coconut crab
0507428: with a bit of luck and some courage you may hold Misa's coconut crab, here 'parked' on his walking stick.


going north
We'll begin our half-round trip at the main intersection in Alofi by the police station and Government House. As you will notice, most of the things to see and do are on the seaward side of the road. First follows a description and then the photographs that give you a better idea.

Government House
f221312: Government House, located on a promontory, escaped destruction by cyclone Heta as the water flowed around it.
Tomb Point overlooks the harbour and moorings
0507092: Tomb Point overlooks the harbour and boat moorings and is excellent for whale watching. When the container ship arrives, one can spend hours here.

Sir Robert wharf
0507085: Sir Robert wharf is too shallow and small for berthing ships. Here the containers are ferried by a small tender to the wharf where large cranes lift them onto transporters. In the distant Niue's fledgling fishing fleet can be seen on their moorings. Because the sea is easy to enter and exit, this is a good place to do night dives.
Omahi sea track
0507207: the Omahi sea track leads to a wide reef.
f220521: Tavahihi sea track gives easy access to the reefs.
Namukulu sea track is important
f220528: the Namukulu sea track gives access for cars to an L-shaped channel in the reef. Cyclone Heta caused terrible damage but the track and sea access have since been restored. It is of economical importance.

Avaiki access cave
f220613: this beautiful dripstone cave gives access to the Avaiki reef and caves.
In the distance the Avaiki cave and swimming hole
f220631: the Avaiki royal swimming hole is in the distant cave. The entrance to this reef is on right, outside the photo.
the Avaiki swimming hole of kings
f220620: it is like swimming inside a cathedral. The water is crystal clear but cool from a freshwater spring in the distance. No swimming on Sundays!
entrance to the Palaha cave
f223021: Well maintained grounds bordered by coconut trees invite you to visit Palaha cave, not to be missed.
track to Palaha cave
f223024: the track to Palaha cave seems to end here but suddenly veers to the left towards an unlikely small entrance.
the large Palaha cave opens up wide
f223026: the Palaha cave opens up wide to the reef flat, with good swimming pools in front and an excellent opportunity for rockpooling.
huge Palaha cave
f223104: the Palaha cave is large and deep, its ceiling 'supported' by pillars. Can you find the person in the picture?
another angle to Palaha cave
f223111: another part of the Palaha Cave dwarfs the person on its pulpit.
swimming in Limu main pool
f220530: the main pool of Limu is large, with clear calm water, corals and fish. Swimming is always safe but watch out for sea urchins. In the distance it connects through a narrow channel to the sea.
snorkeller and fish in Limu pools
f044522: coral fishes frequent the Limu pools, so don't forget to bring your mask. It is an excellent place for children.
snorkelling in a small cave of Limu pools
f044504: an experienced snorkeldiver dives into one of the small caves of Limu pools. After rains, fresh water lays on top of the salt, particularly in the archway pool where a torrent of brackish water pours out of the cliff.
the archway pool
f044533: the archway pool is deeper and connects through an archway and a narrow channel to the sea. It is a worthwhile swim for the more experienced, as the outer reefs are interesting. From here one can swim back to the Namukulu sea track.
view of Hikutavake reef
0507289: the Hikutavake reef is one of the most interesting reefs to explore because rich reef life is still found there.
sea track to Hikutavake reef
0507219: the Hikutavake sea track is still messy and perhaps will always remain so.
a little hurdle at the end of the track
0507221: a small hurdle must be overcome at the end of the track, due to damage from cyclones.
outer Hikutavake reef
f223016: the outer reef of Hikutavake is well alive with grazing animals. The calm sea for the moment allows one to explore the very edges of the reef. Make use of calm seas because they are much rarer than wave-swept ones.
sea track to the Matapa chasm
f222925: the sea track to the Matapa chasm is well maintained and short.
swimming in the Matapa chasm is safe and refreshing
f222928: swimming in the Matapa chasm is safe and refreshing due to underground freshwater streams. The chasm connects to the sea.
dripstone cave near Talava arches
f222933: the Talava arches are reached through a magnificent dripstone cave as shown here and on right.

f222931: a sink hole now acts as a roof light.

majestic Talava arches
f223204: the Talava arches are worthy of the long walk to get there. A natural bridge spans two archways and in the distance a third can be seen.
an inviting swimming pool
f223209: view from the main arch towards a distant arch and high reef flats in between. The long rock pool is full of life and worth exploring.
Uluvehi sea track
f221208: the Uluvehi sea track ends here where the reef is shallow but the sea usually wild. 
canoes parked in natural boathouses
f221211: the sea caves and overhangs are used as natural boat houses to park outrigger canoes in.

going south
We'll begin the southward tour from the centre of Alofi, the crossroads by Government House, going southward in a counter clockwise direction to finish at Liku. First come the descriptions and then the photos.
the Crazy Uga cafe looks out over the sea
0507363: the Crazy Uga cafe looks out over the sea and Opaahi reef. The sea track begins on left. The reef was protected from exploitation in 2005.
snorkelling in Opaahi reef pools
f045135: the Opaahi reef pools are clear and interesting and full of life.
Amanau reef with rock pools
0507121: Amanau reef with excellent rock pools. This is the left view of a panorama of the reef.
a ladder gives access to Amanau reef
0507120: the right hand side of the Amanau reef panorama. A steep ladder gives access to the reef.
water spouts at Anaana lookout point
f220503: as the trade swell curves round Tepa Point, it breaks on the coast at Anaana Point, dousing the landscape in salt spray. The rocks here are sharp and hard.
fossil corals excavated by rain drops
f221523: explore the fossil corals at Anaana Point excavated by fast moving rain drops as the salt spray prevents vegetation from taking over.
small sandy beach at Tamakautoga
f220505: from the centre of Tamakautoga village, a convenient and short track leads to this small sandy beach with safe rock pools at low tide. It's a little gem. In the distance Tepa Point that protects this part of the shore.
Pofitu sea track leads to steep steps
0507351: At the end of the Pofitu sea track, steep steps lead you onto the wide reef, here covered by the high tide.
the Washaway Cafe
f223127: the convivial Washaway Cafe at Avatele in the setting sun light, a meeting point for visitors.
the Avatele boat ramp and derrick
f220636: the Avatele boat ramp and derrick is of economic importance for launching fishing boats, dive charters and so on.
many species of fish
f046324: many species of fish can be discovered when snorkelling in Avatele harbour. Here a small school of convict tangs can be seen.
some corals in Avatele Harbour
f046301: in the shelter of protecting rocks, corals can be found in Avatele harbour.
the Tuhia-atua sea track goes through a small cave
f220718: the Tuhia-atua sea track leads through a small cave to the reef flats.
view to the sea at Tuhia-atua
f223226: the Tuhia-atua sea cave frames the view of the sea and reef flats.
the forest ends abruptly at this coconut tree
f220815: the forest ends abruptly at this sentinel coconut tree which already shows salt spray damage.
an alien landscape at Togo
f220732: an alien landscape of razor sharp craggy rocks with poorly developed soils and minimum vegetation, is the coastal salt spray habitat. A concreted path saves your shoes and leads safely to the Togo chasm.
Togo chasm and ladder
f220801: a long ladder stands in the far distance where visitors enter the Toga chasm. Mature coconut trees managed to establish them here on this sandy beach.
sea cave with roof light at Togo
f220809: next to the ladder is a small entrance that widens to this sea cave with roof light. From the sea cave, the natural bridge and seething sea can be seen. A cool trade wind blows through the cave.
natural bridge at Togo
f220814: from the top one can also see the natural bridge and swell crashing onto the shore.
Vaikona track leads under the roots
f223303: the Vaikona track is arduous but adventuresome. It leads between and over sharp coral bommies and at times under the forest roots.
Pandanus stilt roots
f223304: Pandanus stilt roots are a sure sign of the coastal zone. The track leads around and through them.
Vaikona chasm from above
f223315: The Vaikona chasm, seen from above, is vegetated, indicating that fresh water is around.
entrance to Vaikona chasm
f223313: this is the foreboding entrance to the Vaikona chasm. It leads down a 45 degree slippery slope with little to hold on to. One must be well prepared for further exploration, which includes swimsuit and snorkel mask, safety ropes and first-aid kit. Never enter alone.
at the edge of the sea, the vegetation ends
f223307: at the edge of the sea, the vegetation suddenly thins out. From here access to the reef flats is only for mountaineers.
a calm day at the Vaikona reef
f223310: this is a calm day at the Vaikona reef, as the waves do not show white-caps further out in sea. It is low tide, yet the waves still wash over the entire reef flat.
f223309: from here the high pools can be seen and waves spouting 20 metres up in the air. These pools grow slowly upward and they contain fish trapped there for life, sustained by mysterious mini ecosystems.
the high pools