Perhaps not known as a "Dive Mecca" in the pacific, but definitely my biggest surprise during my trip. I used a dive company called Niue Blue and was very impressed. The visibility was over 50 metres, so the clarity was just insane. The marine life was diverse with clownfish, shoals of barracudas, steephead parrotfish, and hawksbill sea turtle. There's also a Niue native sea snake called Katuali, which you can see in abundance. As for the landscape, there were also swim through channels offering colourful coral, which is a rarity these days.
There's plenty of caves to explore around the island of Niue, but Palaha Cave is definitely the most popular one. It's positioned on the north-west side of the island around a 10 minute drive from Alofi and is well signposted. There's a short walk from the parking lot prior to reaching the cave, which is full of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as water holes housing small fish species. I'd recommend visiting in low tide to fully appreciate the colours within the cave, prior to following it to its opening where it meets the Pacific Ocean.
Limu Pools The Limu Pools offer a relaxing spot where you can bathe in naturally formed pools whilst looking at the ocean. The limestone formations mean that swimmers are protected from the Pacific Ocean even during high tide, so it's pleasant for swimmers of all ability levels. This is also a nice snorkelling spot with plenty of marine life and is very easy to combine with Palaha Cave due to its location. Worth noting that there's no beaches in this location so you're entering each natural pool using wooden steps. It's relatively easy to spot the native Katuali sea snake whilst snorkelling here, which gives you a great opportunity if you're not a scuba diver.
Follow the circular road around the island further north from Limu and you'll reach Talava Arches. For me, this place was a personal highlight during my trip. Well signposted like many of the island attractions and plenty of ample parking before you set off on your mini hike. The Talava Arches are three large rock formation arches that look straight out to the ocean and are reachable via a 45 minute hike. Worth noting that the terrain is mixed with sharp rocks, steep slopes and water. Nothing too crazy, but be sure to wear suitable footwear.
The view out to the ocean really is beautiful, especially as you can look through one arch directly towards the next one.
A5 Uga & Plantation Tour
Perhaps a more unusual excursion, but enjoyable all the same, is the A5 Uga & Plantation Tour that you can do from the northern tip of the island. This is advertised at the Visitor Information Centre in Alofi, so that's the easiest way to get more info, but I'll include direct contact details for the guide further down this post.
So the tour itself gives you an insight into everyday Niue life with Tony, who's a true islander. You'll start by taking a walk into the interior of the island to spot cononut crab (Uga) and learn about their habitat. I've seen plenty of crabs, but these are very unique and massive in size. Tony provides a supply of these crabs to most of his village, as they're a staple source of food. Prior to the tour ending, you will visit a local plantation where Tony will explain traditional farming methods, old and new and see how locals grow their staple crops. Overall, a fascinating tour and certainly different to the usual island excursions.
Alofi is the capital of the island nation of Niue, albeit the size of a small village. This is where you'll find the only bank on the island, as well as the tourist office and a handful of supermarkets and stores. During any standard time of year (not over a public holiday) this is also your best location for restaurants. The government building and the Niue National Memorial are also located here in Alofi . Despite being the capital, there's no need to allocate a huge amount of time here. I tried Vanilla Restaurant, which is a local food joint and serves a great curry.
Hikulagi Sculpture Park
Many tourists will barely visit the east coast of the island because aside from some quiet beaches and poor unpaved roads, there's really not a great deal to see. However, one unusual spot that's easily reachable at the south east point of the island is Hikulagi Sculpture Park. This place was founded in 1996 by volunteers with the purpose of embracing the sentiment that an island is analogous to Planet Earth in microcosm, so the intention was to discuss issues on pollution, climate change and human co-existence. It's eerily abandoned today, but there's some impessive art sculptures using trash found in the rainforest and washed up on the beach. Over the years, tourists are encouraged to add an item to the sculpture and place a small donation in the box.
Overall, it's definitely not a visit spot for everyone, but it's certainly unique.
There's one resort on the island and I decided to stay there. The Scenic Matavai Resort Niue is only a 10 minute drive from the airport and located right on the coast. It's a central base to use to explore the whole island, the rooms are fresh and overlook the ocean, WiFi connection is good and sufficient for remote working, and the restaurant has a decent menu. For divers, it's located next door to Niue Blue, so very easy to schedule your dives.
Firstly, my trip was over an extended public holiday period, so restaurant opening hours were not on their usual clock. I want to recommend Washaway Cafe, which is also open on a Sunday (unusual in Niue). It's located on Avatele Beach, so it's a lovely chilled spot where you can watch the waves. The menu is basic with a choice of beef burger or fish burger accompanies with fries and it's great value at $20 NZD for a decent size portion. Additionally, there's an Honesty Bar, which is unmanned and has a donation box. It's down to personal honesty to self-serve from the fridge and deposit the correct money.
A couple of notable points for visiting the island. Firstly, rent a car to fully maximise your time here. I used Lotouli Car Rentals who have their own website and a small fleet of cars. I saw no public transport on the island, so I'd definitely recommend you organise this in advance of your visit. I rented a Toyota Yaris for $70 NZD a day. Secondly, if you wish to organise the A5 Uga & Plantation tour directly with Tony, you can reach him via email@example.com or +683 7343.
Thirdly, there's a sim card desk directly outside of the main airport entrance that's open for every flight arrival. 4G coverage was available across most of the island, but signal did dip heading into the interior, so download offline maps.