Niue is round in shape and rises just 65 metres above sea level. The world’s largest coral atoll is isolated and has a rugged coastline and reef providing protected coves and coral beaches. It has no streams or rivers and rainfall filters through the porous coral into the ocean, completely silt-free, keeping the surrounding sea crystal clear.
Early this year Niue was hit by a ferocious cyclone which left a trail of destruction but its spirit is intact. Much energy and enthusiasm have re-built a good portion of island life and plant life is regenerating as quickly as it was destroyed.
Divers enjoy visibility between 30 and 70 metres and the waters are filled with marlin, sailfish, tuna and mahi mahi. Spinner dolphins and humpback whales make welcome appearances. The area has been declared a whale sanctuary and all cetaceans are protected.
Subterranean caves and grottoes provide interesting exploration. Guided tours take you to numerous limestone formations: Avaiki Cave, Talava Arches and the Matapa Chasm, which has a freshwater stream entering the chasm below sea level. There are also plenty of black and white banded sea snakes, unique to the area. These deadly amphibians have a strong bond with Niuean mythology.
The 259 square kilometre island has 13 villages and a population of less than 2000. It takes just one and a half hours to drive around it. Like all South Pacific islands, Niue has two distinct seasons dry from April to November and wet from December to March.
Niueans are bilingual and enjoy dual citizenship as an independent nation in free association with New Zealand.
A wander around the centre of the island with a local is a great thing to do. You can visit a cave very few people will ever see and it is adventure caving at its best. You spent a lot of time on your hands and knees, so don’t wear your best white clothing!
Matavai Resort sits on a cliff top and its 24 rooms have sweeping views. There is a freshwater pool, tennis courts, pitch ‘n’ putt, souvenir shop, restaurant and bar, cliffhanger bar and tour desk.
Niue Dive is owned and operated by Ian Gray and Annie Franklin. Ian is a PADI course director and Annie a PADI instructor. Niue is now their home and they know its underwater world very well.
Snake Gully has wonderful coral, a cavern, loads of fish and more sea snakes than anywhere else, all at a depth of less than 20 metres.
The Fans has a beautiful garden of over two dozen Gorgonia Fans at a depth of 30-40 metres. The site also features a wall of hard corals covered in reef fish. Pelagics including barracuda, tuna, trevally and sharks are often seen swimming by.
Marine Park is a site for those who love their coral big and beautiful some of the healthiest plate corals you'll find anywhere in the world, more than a kilometre of pristine reef intercut with gullies and turtles sleeping under the coral.
Limu Twin Caves offer one of the island’s great cave dives. You descend into a world of light and shade, where schools of midnight perch hide in the dark and morays camouflage amongst the coral. You could spot ribbon eels and maybe a reef shark before plunging back into another cavern where lionfish lurk around the edges and a narrow tunnel takes you back into the first cave. Cavern addicts will also enjoy "the Chimney" with its painted crays and the Bubble Cave, home of stalactites.
Sunday is a day of rest on Niue, with local people attending church. Visitors are asked to use discretion whilst visiting Niue when taking part in activities on a Sunday, bearing in mind the Sunday observance. Fishing and boating are prohibited on Sundays. Wearing swimwear without a sarong or paleu (sulu) in Niue is frowned upon.