Home to just 1,500 inhabitants, Niue revels in its status as one of the world's smallest independent nations (although it does use the New Zealand dollar for its currency). Known as the Rock of Polynesia, it sits in the centre of a triangle formed by Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands.
The culture may be Polynesian but the scenery is a far cry from the palm-fringed atolls that make up most Pacific nations. Niue is formed from a gigantic slab of porous limestone covered with tropical vegetation. With no lakes or streams, rain filters cleanly down to the sea, devoid of murky sediment. Underwater visibility can reach up to 100 metres.
The fun continues on dry land, where mountain biking and caving provide all the thrills you'll want. Every hike holds a surprise at the end – whether it be unspoilt rain forest, jagged coral pinnacles, spectacular caves, secluded swimming coves, or rock pools teeming with colourful fish. You will come across views that could easily feature in international movie sets, and with a land area of 259 square kilometres, you may feel like the first to discover these remarkable scenes.
Nature may be the star attraction on Niue but we have no doubt you'll be charmed by the Niuean people and their friendly ways. Local guides and tours will happily provide an insight into the culture. For instance, Andah's umu tour lets you assist in preparing food for an umu (hangi). A few hours later you'll sample the feast you helped create.
Best time to go
The best season to visit is from May to October when the weather is generally drier. This is also the prime season for whale watching. Temperatures are pleasant all year round, and generally hover around the 26-28 degree mark during daytime and 19-21 after dark.
How much will it cost
Since just about everything has to be imported, costs are higher for most products apart from local produce. However, once you have paid for your tours, vehicle rental and petrol, there's very little to spend your money on. Make sure you bring cash – there are no ATMs and only limited credit card facilities on the island.
Visitors should take precautions against diphtheria, hepatitis A, tetanus, and typhoid. Mosquito nets and repellents are recommended, especially during the wet season, as there is no vaccine against dengue fever.
No visa is required for tourists staying up to 30 days with return or onward tickets and sufficient funds for their length of stay.
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