Just putting it out there, Niue (pronounced Nu-ay) is the undiscovered tropical island adventure paradise you are looking for, and you can bet none of your friends have been there, let alone heard of it – perfect. And it’s not at all hard to get to!
Part of the Polynesian islands, Niue is the largest raised coral atoll in the world and possibly the most unique, fun and charming holiday destination for a couples' getaway that we have ever visited. Despite being one of the smallest countries on earth, it packs some big punches when it comes to natural attractions, great food and incredible hospitality. In terms of natural wonders, Niue has an annual breeding and calving population of humpback whales, endless mountain bike and hiking trails, hundreds of caves to explore, and snorkelling and diving to rival any other tropical location. All of this exists on a coastline to die for, with some of the best water clarity on the planet and the friendliest and laid back locals you are likely to find anywhere! I know you have heard this all before, but this place really has got the goods, especially when you realise there are only about 180 tourists on the island at any one time, making any of the attractions almost always exclusively yours and your partners' to enjoy. Wow.
Setting the Scene
The first thing about Niue that grabs your attention is the most incredible sapphire blue water you have ever seen, we promise! In fact you have to blink and rub your eyes just to make sure they are working properly.This beautiful clear water, which during our stay was around 80m visibility and among the best in the world, is maintained all year round because there are no running streams on the island that carry sediments out to sea. All fresh water comes straight from the heavens, filters down through the limestone rock, and pools in countless underground caves and aquifers that can be found all around the unique coastline. The island itself is covered in lush tropical vegetation that thrives in the warm sunlight, and is surprisingly missing the bitey things like mosquitoes and sand flies making your explorations that much more pleasurable. But it was the mixture of serious relaxation, wholesome adventure and delicious food that really stole our hearts and ensured we will be back to experience more of this paradise.
Things to Do
Being a couple that simply won’t lounge around the resort pool all day (but if that is your thing, Matavai has all the facilities for that type of holiday too!), Niue has more than enough on offer to fill a solid week with awesome activities. Buccaneer Adventures Niue Dive, owned and run by Aussie expats Shannon and Krystal Hunter, is a one-stop shop for all things fun and is just 50m from the resort. They run the only permitted humpback whale tour that puts you in the water with some of the largest and majestic animals on earth. We had the most amazing experiences with mums, calves and singing males, spending over an hour in crystal clear water with these magnificent creatures during the halfday tours. And if that’s not enough, a swim with spinner dolphins is also available to see these playful animals surround you underwater!
The diving and snorkelling here is second to none, not just because of the wildlife and coral but more so for the visibility and topography. Being able to dive and snorkel in super clear water is spellbinding. It takes your breath away and probably the hardest thing about it is you may never want to swim anywhere else once you know what is possible. The caves and caverns that adorn the coastline don’t stop at the water’s edge, they also continue beneath the waves and what awaits you is an underwater playground brimming with adventure and exploration. On top of all that Niue is famous for its banded sea snakes and sea kraits. These friendly little guys have a temperament similar to all Niuean’s; super chilled and friendly, and will have even the most snake fearing folk quickly fall in love with them.
On land the adventures just continue. There are numerous hiking and mountain biking tracks, ranging from open dirt roads in conservation areas to rugged coastal treks that often end in otherworldly rock formations with arches, caves, and caverns. Many of these also have sensational fresh and salt water swimming holes to cool yourselves in. Be sure to visit some of these at low tide to experience the best rock pools you can imagine, full of life and colour and of course that famous clear water. For the more adventurous, ask the locals about a guided walk to some of the more hard-to-get places, or even mix in a bit of culture and take a “vaka”, or dug-out canoe, tour of the coast. You can even go night hunting for coconut crabs, which are huge land hermit crabs with no shell that can weigh well over two kilos, live to 60 years, and specialise on tearing open and eating coconuts with their giant claws.These more rustic experiences were some of the best we had, as it only takes a few seconds chatting to a local to realise what a refreshingly genuine and kind-hearted attitude their culture embraces.
Niue has a wide range of accommodation on offer from guesthouses, resorts and boutique self-contained lodges. For us, the Matavai Resort, situated directly on the waterfront with a stunning view of the rugged coastline was the perfect super- comfy place to stay, complete with restaurant, pool bar and cultural entertainment. Armed with a hire car we launched all of our adventures from there, and returned at the end of the day for a perfectly romantic afternoon with sundowners by the pool watching the sun set over the Pacific with delicious (and potent!) coconut cocktails.
What to Eat
The cuisine on Niue will have you loosening your belt to make more room, and you will need to after all of your daytime activities. While there is not a vast array of restaurants, there is a great variety from fish and chips and burgers, to sushi, Indian, pizza, banquets and romantic dining. With ocean fish caught daily, the seafood is the best you will get and can come cooked or raw in a number of marinades and sauces. But it’s the buffets that will please the most and one is held most nights in different parts of the island. These combine the very best of Polynesian food and are usually accompanied by a cultural dance and music. It’s more than a meal, it’s a whole night out!
At the end of your stay you won’t feel like a tourist, but rather part of the family; something only accomplished by the warm Niuean hospitality. With only around 1400 Niueans on the island it does not take long before you recognise quite a few and get to know them by name and story, and all that we met were keen to have a chat, being fluent in both the English and Niuean languages. Niue is the ultimate couples' idyllic paradise adventure getaway, and when the time comes to pack up and go home, you will not want to leave…. and why should you? Niue truly is that little Pacific island that is yet to be discovered by the masses, and fingers crossed it stays that way!
WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY Dean Miller and Nikki Rumney