Laidback, friendly and unremittingly beautiful, tiny Niue is an idyllic retreat from the modern world.
The island nation’s rugged coastline, crystal clear waters and coral reefs offer excellent diving, snorkelling and whale watching. Birdwatchers are also well catered for: parakeets, white-tailed terns and other exotic birds and butterflies can be spotted darting among hibiscus and orchids.
Despite its remote location in the South Pacific, Niue is rarely short of visitors, with regular flights from Auckland bringing planeloads of sun-seeking Kiwis. At the same time however, there are only a handful of hotels, so it never feels crowded – sometimes it’s easy to imagine you have the island all to yourself.
Arrive between July and October, and you can not only witness the annual humpback whale migration, but even join them for a swim. And if your trip doesn’t coincide with these gentle cetaceans, spinner dolphin pods are resident year-round.
The island is literally the tip of an undersea mountain, so head offshore and the land plunges rapidly into the deep. You can hook marlin, wahoo and skipjack tuna without having to sail miles from the coast.
Directly beneath the water’s surface, snorkellers and divers can explore an underwater paradise of hidden caves and chasms rife with colourful sea creatures. And above water, Niue’s limestone caves conceal fossils, secret passageways and ancient burial places, while alluring trails lead you through tropical rainforest to secluded sandy coves. There’s even room for nine holes of golf.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, sign up to the Rally of the Rock, an annual bike ride that takes Lycra-clad participants through a mixture of bush tracks and paved roads.
Whatever you do in Niue, it’s usually not long before you’ve got to know half the island’s population, who make sure you have the time of your life.