Part two of our Niue Visit – Part One is here
“Niue has the clearest waters that I have seen” – so said one of the divers we met. The visibility is simply stunning. One of the reasons is that there are no rivers on Niue, it is just one giant rock that the water seeps through and is held in the rock.
As I said earlier, I was initially disappointed that all the snorkel trips were booked out when we arrive. If you are a super keen diver or snorkeller, book before you go to Niue. HOWEVER there are snorkelling spots all over the island, all accessible down Sea Tracks which lead off the road near every village. Most nights we ate locally caught fresh fish – in batter, raw, pan fried – it was a treat.
At every village there are one or two “Sea tracks”. These are your entry to some of the most amazing experiences on Niue. Some are better at different tides, each one is different and some have interpretive signs, and even showers and toilets. It is not possible to visit each track in a week’s stay, and I think you would have to be very committed to do it in a two week stay, though I am sure it would be fun to try.
Highlights for us were:
- Our first snorkel at Avaiki– a walk through a cave and around the corner to a spectacular pool that was like snorkelling in a cathedral. It was the best. The only thing we did not realise that at the end of every sea track there was ‘the best’ How do you compare the incomparable!
- The Matapa Chasm was an Olympic size swimming pool surrounded by high cliffs. Best when the sun is high, it was the private swimming hole of the old royal family.
- Limu, very easy and accessible, we went back twice, and it was clearly a favourite for others.
- Avatele Beach and the Washaway Café – Sunday for food and swimming, elsewhere on the Island it is frowned upon on Sundays. We saw more fish here at high tide than on any of our dips.
Walking Sea Tracks
For more serious walking challenges we walked through the caves and to the truly spectacular Talava Arches in the North. Toga Chasm was worth the drive and the walk on the east coast. A stunning wild coastline which seemed literally a forest of rocks, with a tempestuous sea pounding in. At the end a ladder leads down to the surprise of a small sandy chasm with coconut trees.
This was definitely on my to do list since reading about Niue’s access to the migratory trails of these magnificent creatures. Jim Eagles article in the NZ Herald about floating in Whalesong also whetted my appetite. July – September is the Whale watching time in Niue, which suits many of us in the southern hemisphere seeking a winter get-away to the sun.
We had booked through the Information Centre with Niue Charters the largest charter vessel for Wednesday afternoon. Everywhere we went people had whale stories – “we saw them yesterday, they were breaching off Sails Bar”. The best story was one of a friend who was in snorkelling with the whales when one came straight for him. He was awestruck, terrified and got cramp so could not move. Luckily the whale veered from him just 30 m away. A great story told by the bar.
We take our snorkel gear in the hope we get the chance to get in with the whales, but simply to see them would be a treat. Niue Charters has the biggest boat on the island, and we board it at the Alofi wharf. Everyone is already looking out past the moored boats to the whales breaching and playing off the coast. This is a great omen as we are told only 50% of trips actually do spot the whales. We wait impatiently for the last passenger, then we are off, fingers and toes crossed that the whales will keep playing until we get there.
Within 10 minutes we were there, and we watched in awe as the humpbacks leapt out of the water, breaching and playing. The skipper suggested they were a bit boisterous to swim with, and we all agreed. Often the whales are resting and it is easy to get in with them. The whalesong is often heard even when you can not see the whales. I did not realise that it is the male whales who sing these haunting melodies.
After the whale watch the skipper took us further along the island past Matavi Resort where we had our only snorkel over the reef edge. It was amazing, and I could see what people meant about visibility. Simply stunning.
- Take good reef shoes!
- Keen on a Dive or Snorkel trip – book before you leave, they were booked out by the time we arrived.
- Take your snorkel and mask. Flippers are only necessary if you are going to go off the reef – next time I would definitely take them. If you do not want to carry flippers – hire them for $5 a day at Niue Dive.
- Diving gloves are good too