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PACIFIC ISLANDS

5 THINGS THAT WILL SURPRISE YOU IN NIUE.

Avatar   By Anna Sarjeant - House of Travel Content Specialist


Niue is one of the world’s smallest independent nations, and yet it’s home to some of Earth's most enormous inhabitants. If you thought giants were the product of children’s tales, Niue might just surprise you.


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1   |   You'll find humungous humpback whales.
The first thing you need to know about humpback whales is not that they’re huge, but that they love to sing. On any whale diving excursion, this is one way you’ll know if there’s a giant in the vicinity: When a whale bursts into song, your lungs will rattle in your chest.

In Niue, whale season runs from July to October, with August and September offering the best opportunity to spot one of the world’s largest mammals. Niue's crystal-clear waters make swimming among these majestic behemoths totally unforgettable. Swimmers must stay at least 200 metres away, but humpbacks are curious by nature. You might get lucky and ones approaches on its own!




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2   |   There are giant swaggering crabs.
Not all giants are as beautiful as the humpback whale. Niue’s gigantic coconut crab is such an unusual looking character, it’s hard not to stare. There’s nothing tiddly about these imposing crustaceans; as wide as your outstretched arms, these Niuean delicacies can occasionally be seen swaggering along the road, heaving their gigantic 4kg bodies from cave to crevice.

Better known as uga, coconut crabs may be unconventional, but they’re one of the most prized foods in the South Pacific and absolutely delicious to eat. Niue is one of the few islands with a sustainable amount in the jungle, and hunting the famed uga is a popular Niue pastime. Take a tour and you’ll see the locals laying white coconut meat as bait. Slightly less brave but just as unforgettable: Don't miss a chance to order if it's on the menu!




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3   |   You'll discover the iconic Talava Arches.
Wander beneath the great Arches of Talava and you'll feel like a mere speck in a land of weather-beaten giants. Waiting in the north of the island, the Arches are a series of caves and naturally created limestone arches. Accessed by a challenging 20-minute walk through dense rainforest, a labyrinth of fossilised coral leads to a system of high-ceiling caves dripping with stalactites. Then come the colossal limestone arches, bathed in colour and swathed in fascinating textures. Visit the arches at low tide for the best footing. In the calm parts, it’s possible to swim and snorkel. Or venture next door to nearby Matapa Chasm. Best described as a narrow gorge, Matapa hosts a striking natural swimming pool and an array of exotic coloured fish.




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4   |   Experience enormous underwater cathedrals.
Some have described Niue’s diving panorama as gigantic Swiss cheese. The underwater topography reads like a dictionary excerpt for the letter C: chasms, caves, caverns, coves, canyons, chimneys and channels! As much as the island’s above-water landscape is littered with limestone caves, underwater is much the same — and punctured with holes. Swimming through feels like an aquatic exploration of a forgotten city. The best part? Water clarity is sensational because the island is an upraised coral atoll and its limestone acts as a natural water filter. As a result, visibility can reach up to 100 meters and rarely drops below 30 — a diver’s dream!




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5   |   You'll meet larger-than-life locals.
Willy's Washaway Café is neither grand nor giant. If anything, it's rather average sized and seriously informal. What's anything but average is Willy himself! A simply marvellous character, Willy is larger than life. He owns — and built — the café himself, and he takes visitors crab hunting, fishing and caving. In his spare time he's a baker as well as the local mechanic. Between jobs, he entertains the punters with his big personality and even bigger smile. Willy’s a busy man so the Washaway Café at Avetele beach is only open Sundays. The burgers are almost as legendary as Willy, while the bar, which works like an honesty box whereby you serve yourself, adds a relaxed vibe to an already laid-back establishment. Throughout Niue, the locals are much like Willy: generous, about as friendly as you could hope for, with huge smiles and even bigger hearts.  




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ABOUT ANNA SARJEANT

As a self-confessed travel addict, the majority of my wage, time and daydreams are spent seeing as much of the planet as my pay packet will allow. My love for a good jaunt may have been brought on by an inquisitive mind, but I am more inclined to think it was induced by several childhood holidays spent in a rain-lashed caravan. Up a mountain. On a farm. In Britain. Bored.

More about Anna >

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