Imagine yourself sitting on the deck of your hotel with a fresh coconut in your hand watching dolphins and whales swim past as you bask in the warm sunshine and a soft breeze bristles the lush greenery surrounding you. You might be imagining yourself in some sort of otherworldly paradise, but this is exactly what Niue has got to offer.
Known as the rock of the Pacific, Niue is a relatively unexplored island lying in-between the three more popular islands of Rarotonga, Samoa and Tonga. With a tiny population of 1500 people and a handful of resorts, the island is a refreshing change to the much more frequented islands like Fiji and Rarotonga. Sometimes ex-pats from Niue ask why you would want to go there as there as nothing there, and that’s exactly why you should. No drunk Australians on schoolies, no nightclubs, no large commercial shopping centres, no one trying to sell you things on the street, few people and an abundance of outdoor activities.
With only two flights into Niue each week there is always a limited number of tourists on the island, most opting to stay for one week. You generally end up bumping into the same people over again and by the end of the week your flight back home is full of familiar friendly places. Niuens themselves are incredibly welcoming and rely on tourism as their main source of income. The island is so safe and friendly, nobody locks their cars or puts things away at night, everybody knows each other, it’s amazingly clean and well organised and it kind of feels like Niue is how the world is really meant to be.
So if you’re feeling like you might need to reconnect to both humanity and nature, take a little trip to heaven on earth and follow this guide.
Although not as harsh as New Zealand’s burning sun the rays here are strong and many people end up learning this the hard way. A vital ingredient if you plan on enjoying your holiday in the sun and don’t want to come back looking like a lobster.
Although it’s difficult to find an island more peaceful than Niue, there is one noise that dominates the land. Roosters. They are everywhere. If you don’t think you can sleep through the endless cuckoos at 4 am then it’s best to bring some earplugs
Your feet will not survive without these. Being known as the Rock of the Pacific should give you some clues as to why these are so important.
Reusable shopping bag
Keep Niue looking green and beautiful and reduce the waste impact on this small beautiful island by bringing your own reusable shopping bag. Keep it handy when doing your shopping at the local market and it’s a win for everyone.
Fins, snorkel, mask
If you already have your own it’s best to bring them so you are not having to mess around with hiring once you are there.
Sarong/ lava lava
Used as a beach towel, wrap, scarf, and pretty much everything you can think of this is one travel item I take with me everywhere.
Although there are a number of fantastic restaurants on the island the food pricing is on par with New Zealand, so if you plan on eating out at every meal be prepared to face a pretty hefty credit card bill. Make sure you bring plenty of snacks and if your hotel or motel has a kitchen, make the most of it. Niue allows packaged and canned food, so stock up on things while in NZ so you don’t have to pay for the imported products at the supermarket. Find out more about what you can bring here.
Although Niue is small it has a wide variety of accommodation options to suit all types of visitors. From self-catered motels to luxury resorts and backpackers. Just make sure to book early as spots can fill up quick!
Matavai Scenic offers two beautiful seaside accommodation options. Their main resort is a standard resort style hotel with sea facing rooms, a fabulous pool area and a large restaurant. About 1km further north towards town they also offer great motel style rooms with a kitchenette and private balcony. We chose to stay in the motels to save money on food. The kitchen was equipped with everything you needed for cooking and cocktails and the view from the room was spectacular. They also provided push bikes for us to cycle to and from the main part of the resort as we hadn’t hired a car for our stay. Staff were incredibly welcoming and worked hard to make sure that every guest under their care was welcomed and well taken care of. This is a great place to stay if you truly want to relax and have all your cares taken care of.
Anaiki motels offer all the comforts of home while having a stunning seafront view. We popped in to check out these large, comfortable motel rooms after meeting some travellers who had stayed there three times and swore they would never stay anywhere else. The motel has a large backyard, cliff-top swimming pool and brand-new BBQ area. It also has its own private viewing deck perfect for drinking G &T’s and watching whales swim by in the sunset. A great place for families or those looking for all the comforts of home.
Matavai Scenic Resort offers two dining locations on their premises. The first is a formal dining restaurant offering a-la-carte menu and buffets on special nights. On Thursday they have a Pacific buffet with local live music followed by some rather impressive fire dancing. If you are looking for an elegant dining experience this is the place to go. The second option is the more casual pool bar. This was my favourite place to relax as it overlooked the water and offered some yummy cheaper comfort foods like pizza, steak sandwiches and delicious fresh salad. This is perfect if you are after some more laid-back, informal dining in a tropical atmosphere. And don’t forget to try the cocktails!
The coolest little café & bar on the island. Hio has a small kitchen and deck serving fresh fusion food garnished beautifully with papaya and overlooks Hio beach. It’s the perfect post snorkelling spot to drink a beer and indulge in some delicious food. This became my favourite place to go in Niue with amazingly friendly staff and reasonably priced meals. The kitchen is only open until 3.30 so make sure you get there for a cruisy lunch or healthy smoothie.
A surprising addition to Niue’s culinary scene is this Indian restaurant in Niues’ “commercial centre”. I was blown away at how utterly delicious everything we got from here was! Their most popular meals are their $5 rotis which you can get take away. The interior of the restaurant does lack a bit of atmosphere but the food is unbeatable and not overly priced.
This café became our go-to coffee spot in Niue. Close to the town centre, the Crazy Uga serves delicious coffee (even soy lattes!), and some yummy fresh bakery items as well as a full breakfast menu. Take a seat out on the deck and enjoy a view of the ocean while indulging in your meal!
What’s possibly more surprising than the Indian is Niue’s Japanese restaurant which has apparently been rated 7th IN THE WORLD for Japanese food. Specializing in sushi and raw fish this place is every seafood lover’s dream.
Rent a car
As Niue doesn’t have any public transport most people choose to rent a car while on the island. Many many hotels offer a car as part of a packaged deal. Having a car is the perfect way to get around the island as it gives you total freedom as to where you want to go and it’s virtually impossible to get lost on its 3 main roads. Beware however there are a TON of pretty serious potholes
We took a risk and didn’t rent a car while on the island. So we hitched everywhere we wanted to go and got rides with some amazing locals and generous fellow tourists who were all happy to take us where we needed to and have a chat along the way. As there is only one circular route on the island somebody so is sure to be going where you want to go.
There are countless spots on Niue that could almost feel undiscovered by humans if it weren’t for the carefully laid paths and planning that Niue tourism has put into making these destinations accessible. Most spots on the west side of the island are accessible for snorkelling and sea access whereas the East coast is rather rugged and untamed. Make sure you keep an eye on tidal times if you plan on being in the water.
Hio beach is Niue’s biggest beach, which is not to say that it is big. It rests in a small alcove filled with golden coloured sand. At low tide, you can walk around to the right of the beach and you will discover the most fantastic sheltered snorkelling pool. Filled with all sorts of sea life Hio has satisfies both the snorkelling addicts and those who just want to sit and read their book in the sunshine.
Togo Chasm is a bizarre place where it feels as though you have stepped foot on another planet. The large rocky pillars jut out around the coast as far as the eye can see. A small concrete track acts as a bridge over the pillars which leads you down to the Togo chasm. Then it’s just a climb down a rather large ladder until you reach the sandy protected chasm. Filled with palm trees and a little swampy pool at the back this bizarre place is not to be missed.
Limu pools are probably one of Niues most popular snorkelling spots with easy access to the pools and excellent snorkelling conditions. There are two large separate pools here, both offering something a little different. Make sure you look out for the underground cave which pops up into another section of the pools and swim through (if you are brave enough!)
These caves were truly incredible. Go there on a sunny day and you are in for a mesmerizing experience swimming the crystal clear blue waters of the caves while the ceiling reflects the sparkling light of the pools. Avaiki caves feel like a true gift from nature.
These incredible caves are worth exploring if you like to feel adventurous. The huge caves have formed incredible stalactites & stalagmites and a wonderful natural swimming pool which you can sit in at low tide while waves crash around you. Keep an eye out for crabs!
We were lucky enough to be in Niue during one of their highly attended show days which happen about once a month on the Island. The days are very popular and literally, everyone on the island attends. This is a great way to experience some really Niuean culture, fashion, food and music!
There are two companies on the island that offer whale, dolphin and snorkelling adventures. Neither are cheap, however, both have excellent service, safety and staff. Note that whale watching is only seasonal and not guaranteed on either company. See more information on the two here.
Niue is a nature lovers dream…So, if you want to take a little dip into paradise consider Niue as your next vacation destination!
Eat well, live well, travel well.
Most of these images can be purchased on Alamy.
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