Holidays In Niue
As certified scuba divers, my husband and I formed an outdoor group to explore the reefs and other attractions of Niue (new - ay), a small island country in the South Pacific Ocean. We met up with 4 other adventurous Americans who shared the same energetic passion with us. We agreed to travel at our own budget and share in whatever cost we encounter on this trip. We got there in the summer months of Niue which was around March of 2012.
Getting there was the hardest part, but we made the most out of our one week tour. First we took a 5 hour Air New Zealand flight from JFK Airport to Auckland. From there we took a 3 hour transit flight to Niue Airport. On the day we arrived, we took advantage of a half day bus tour called the Commodores Orientation Tour. Keith, our tour guide was very helpful and kind in providing tips on how to best enjoy our Niue trip. We were given a planner and a selection of DVD’s, it was very informative. Since I was the assigned driver for our Niue expedition, I applied for a driver’s license at the Police Station in Alofi. Then we went to Alofi Rentals located in the south part opposite a gas station and arranged for a rented car. They gave nice, good service. I was very happy with the discount, plus they delivered the air conditioned four wheel drive to the Coral Garden Motels where we were billeted. Renting the car was the best decision as there were no public transports due to the small population. We loaded it with our backpacks, food, drinks, snorkeling gear, walking sticks, DSLR and underwater cameras.
We started our journey in Alofi, the capital city of Niue. I drove to Tomb Point so named because of the number of graves on the point. It is located opposite the Commercial Center and Ekalesia Church. We had no luck spotting whales though. Then we head off to The Wharf where the sea was a bit rough as the waves crashed onto the cliffs. We enjoyed our lunch on the umbrella tables while watching the panoramic view of Alofi coastline. In the south part, we found the Government House and the Island Market. Right across the Police Station is the Crazy Uga Café, Gill’s Restaurant, Pelenis and Teresa Guest Houses, Pacific Way Bar and The Fish Factory. Fishing is the main source of livelihood in Alofi. There was not much to explore on the north part except The Swan Son, the only supermarket in Niue. We checked out film titles at Niue Rentals which doubles as a car and video- DVD rental place. I noticed that most of the homes in this village were abandoned on this northern side where Cyclone Heta once leashed its fury. We danced the night away with the locals at the Alofi Rugby Club.
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The next morning we went snorkeling at the Opaahi Landing. It is a historic location where Captain Cook once landed. The hike to get to the entrance of The Sea Track was a bit steep. When we got there we hired an experienced Niuean snorkeler to guide us to the reef. All of us geared up and took a dive at the Opaahi Reef. It’s a narrow reef at the base of the cliff. The swell races up to a small channel and made it quite challenging. I did not see any shark at the so called shark reef. I had my underwater camera and took shots of a huge variety of fish species. A number of outrigger canoes lined up the rocks and kept high above the reach of the waves. Locals covered each canoe in palm leaves to protect them from the sun. From here we checked out the next reef, the Utuko Sea Track and Reef Flat. It’s a beautiful spot with white sandy beach, warm water and snorkeling area. I saw dolphins just a hundred meters from us. It was a short track down and not steep. It was more fun to snorkel at the Rock Pool. It was a pleasure to swim with the sea snakes (lots of them!). We took pictures of the amazing tropical fish varieties. Schools of fish everywhere we look around! It was a good and refreshing reef to visit.
The next day our group head off to the Limu Pools. It lies on the northern coast of Niue and boasts of two pools with snorkeling and crystal clear swimming waters. It is next to the Namukulu Cottages where we stayed. It looked so sheltered and we felt very safe. A “rock arm” welcomed us and seems to protect it from the sea. It’s one of the best snorkeling spots I have seen with interesting rock formations. Cute colorful fishes of different species and sizes were everywhere, and the corals were amazing! The pools were a mix of the fresh and sea water making the water temperature a bit colder than the sea. It felt quite bizarre to feel it’s warm below and cold once you swim up. There was hardly any current which makes it an idyllic swimming and snorkeling spot. Best seen at mid- low tide the waters were so clear I saw the tropical fishes even without snorkeling. The pools look scenic with the rocks around them. We explored an underwater cave at the first pool and came out in the other end. We took time to chat with another group of outdoor explorers and changed contact numbers with them as they joined us on our picnic lunch at one of the sun shades in that area. The place seemed magical with plenty of room to swim and enjoy the pristine blue waters of Niue.
Our fifth day in Niue got more exciting as we toured the Matapa Chasm. It is found in the northwest part and in the village of Hikutavake. I drove thru an asphalted sharp bend and parked at a grassy area called The Talava Arches. Then we hiked for ten minutes and follow a large track and soft hill to get to the chasm. We were rewarded with an amazing view at the end. The walls of the chasm were steeply high. The rock formations tinged with red contrasting with the blue water. We went snorkeling at this long and narrow pool. There was a great variety of fish to view and lots of diversity in the underwater landscape. Visibility was good and the water was so refreshing. We saw some locals who jump like Tarzan from the top of the walls. We took extra care as the rocks at the bottom were very slippery, covered with a layer of algae. We relaxed by sitting on long rock platforms on the left side, to rest and just appreciate the high walls of the chasm. After this we passed the Talava Arches. The tracks were uneven and there were plenty of sharp corals we walked on. We went coconut crab watching and explored the colorful interior of the cave that has two exits. We spent more than 5 hours admiring this magnificent work of nature.
On our last day, I drove to the west side of Niue to get to the caves of Avaiki and Palaha. The walk through the caves was breathtaking. It was great climbing thru the rocks to reach Avaiki. The sea tracks were relatively short and lead to a cave at the water’s edge. The entrance was full of huge stalagmites, stalactites, and pillars. I was impressed at the size and beauty of the columns. It was a low tide and it gave us easy access to the nearby Palaha cave. Palaha is one of the biggest caves in Nieu that opens to a reef flat. We snorkeled at the reef flat where young corals are still growing.
Exploring Niue gave me a sense of fulfillment. It is a wonderful place to getaway and the most magnificent underwater visibility on earth. Until now, I am still in awe of its untouched beauty.