Niue was first inhabited by settlers from Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji at least 1000 years ago. Captain James Cook was the first European to arrive on the island in 1774. Niue became a British Protectorate in 1900 before being annexed to New Zealand a year later. The island was finally granted independence in 1974. Today, some of the issues facing Niue are economic and weather related. The island is very vulnerable to cyclones and suffered serious damage in 2004 from Cyclone Heta. Economically, Niue continues to depend heavily on foreign aid, principally from New Zealand. The good news is that tourism is increasingly becoming a main source of income for the people of Niue. In the last decade, tourism has increased by more than 50%.
Being the world’s largest coral island, Niue offers several natural attractions. The island has a rugged coastline and a colorful reef system replete with underwater coves, making it an excellent destination for diving, snorkeling, swimming, and fishing. The marine life in Niue feature whales, dolphins, bright corals, and teems of tiny tropical-colored fishes. Also, the lack of streaming rivers means there is minimal run-off, resulting in pristine-looking blue waters. A great beach to lie and tan under the sun is Hio. It is the finest stretch of beach on the island and features a chasm with overhangs and caves that you can swim around. The limu is a great swimming, bathing, and snorkeling area as well. It is an enclosed area that is exposed to the sea at high tide.
The shore lands of Niue are equally breathtaking. There are a number of caves you can explore including the Avaiki. The Avaiki is a narrow gorge that leads to a cavern where you’ll find a rock pool you can swim in. Further along, you’ll find stalactites and stalagmites. The Vaikona Chasm is another interesting spot. You have to hike through a rainforest, through flocks of butterflies, and through some coral pinnacles just to get there. At Vaikona, there is a sloping cave that leads to the chasm floor at the end of which is a small freshwater pool connected to a larger pool. It is a magical pool as sky peeks hang from above. You’ll need underwater light and snorkeling equipment to take on this chasm. Other caves include the Palaha. It is very slippery and precipitous but descends into a cavern with a romantic pool at the mouth. The Togo Chasm is another favorite. It is a half day journey to the sea’s edge. At the end of the chasm, you’ll find a pool that is supposed to be the home of a legendary monstrous eel.
Bird-watching is also a favorite among travelers. In and around the Huvalu forest, with its hibiscus and orchids, you’ll find a host of exotic birds like the parakeet, weka, swamp kens, and the white-tailed tern, all the while basking in the spectacular collage of flora that includes the likes of bougainvilleas, frangipanis, poinsettias, and various ferns.
One of the more popular destinations in Niue is the capital, Alofi. The bay and coastline of this city is quite pretty and you’ll find many shops and restaurants. The Hakupu village is another worthwhile visit. The village puts on a fifia dance on Wednesdays and serves a smorgasbord of Niuen dishes cooked umu-style (i.e. in an underground oven). You can sample these delicious local dishes while enjoying the music and dance put on by the village women.