It seems that once you land on Niue you are no longer a stranger. Arriving at Niue airport we knew no one, and wondered anxiously if Neil was there from Kololi Motel to pick us up. One of the immigration people asked where we were staying and turned around and pointed to Neil. Easy.
Niue is a small south pacific island between Samoa and Tonga. About 3 hours by plane from Auckland.
A week later when we board the plane back to Auckland, it is like a school reunion, as over the week we have met people, shared stories and made new friends. There are only a 100 tourist beds on the Island, and one plane in and out a week, so arriving in Niue you definitely know you are on an island.
It was a wonderful combination of wilderness experience and conviviality as we explored this gorgeous paradise that is Niue. While there were people around – locals doing what locals do and visitors like us at cafes and shops, when we headed down one of the sea tracks we went down, we were mostly snorkelling on our own.
First task – plan the week
There are some things only on some days and we are keen to do lots of snorkelling and a whale watch. At the airport we are given a handout with information of what’s on and where to eat and a Jasons Map of Niue. Both become indispensable as we plan the week.
A trip to the Niue Information Centre and we are able to fine tune and book some tours and put some shape in our week. I am initially disappointed that all the snorkel trips are full with 12 on the waiting list. I soon discover that down every sea track there is a fabulous place to snorkel right off the island.
- Saturday: Tuapa Village Marine Day – watch the outriggers come in with their fish, Island Buffet night at Matavi Resort
- Sunday: 10am Church and afterwards Washaway Café for a meal and a swim. It is the only place on the Island (apart from Matavi) where somewhere is open to eat, and also turns out to be a great snorkelling spot. Snorkelling etc is a little frowned upon on Sundays, but Washaway is a place where it is OK for us to swim.
- Tuesday: 6am market 8.30 a Forest Tour with Ebony Carving Tours
- Wednesday: Visit to Niue National Council of Women Weaving Group, Whale Experience, and dinner at Matavi Resort – its my birthday!
- Thursday: banquet at Talo’s Restaurant and Bar with all the friends we have made along the way
- Friday: pack up, head to the airport to book in
The rest of the time we would snorkel off the many sea tracks around the Island. We also want to do a forest tour, see some women weaving, go to the market. The week is taking shape – we have hired a car so we can get around – our motel have a couple for hire. We just leave them at the airport with the keys in when we leave!
Accommodation on Niue
We stayed at Kololi Motel which was fantastic and central tucked in its own garden behind Alofi village . We had a two bedroom self contained cabin for $120NZ/night. We could stroll to Alofi shops and cafes and to the main wharf. Definately would recommend it.
Another I would try is Coral Gardens – you need a car if you are staying here, as it is a little out of town. Coral Gardens have a great bar overlooking the sea – great for that evening night cap. You can often see and hear the humpback whales from there. Definately visit the bar one sundown and try the cocktails! I had Sex in the Reef.
If you are a resort type of person there is Matavi Resort – beautiful, great food, attentive staff, overlooking the sea. Definately worth having a lunch, dinner or an evening drink. The Island buffet Saturday nights are GREAT.
There is No Sand
– this is no Club Med
If you are looking for sandy beaches, and lots of tourist focused places, Niue is not it. This is no Club Med, and I am not sure that it would be much fun for small children. For those of us for whom Club Med seems a kind of nightmare, Niue is perfect. Fabulous snorkelling, real people, great hospitality.
Eating and Sex on the Reef
We decided to eat out at nights, so bought enough for breakfast and lunches. Small stores often had a little fresh produce – grab it while you can – remember the market is not until Tuesday morning.
You can buy duty free from the Bond Store in Alofi, but don’t go overboard – next time I would plan to have an evening drink in one of the bars looking over the sea. Watch the sun go down at Crazy Uga, Matavi Resort or the Sails Bar at Coral Gardens. It’s a chance to meet the locals and to see the whales which are regularly spotted just off the coast.
Cocktails are always fun – I enjoyed Sex on the Reef at Sails bar – with lots of appropriate (or inappropriate repartee) and another more sedately named cocktail at Matavi Resort. Both were fabulous as the sun went down.
Read more about snorkelling, walking and whale watching on Niue
Another Women Travel article on Niue – the one that inspired us to visit!
What I will remember for my next trip
- Take lots of cash!!! They take New Zealand dollars, and this is definately a cash society – no ATM in sight
- Take your snorkel and flippers, or hire them the day you arrive
- Bring very good reef shoes, and some closed toe sandals for the rocky track
- Hiring a car makes everything more accessible
- Take a few basic foods – a block of cheese, olives, snacks
- Buy less duty free at the bond store, and drink out more overlooking the bay
- No cell phone, but OK internet access
- Bring the beautiful local honey home to NZ – it is OK with customs