Niue Bigger Isn’t Better

by Annie Grey

Niue

There are places in the world where bigger is better, but Niue isn’t one of them. This remote South Pacific island does everything in a wonderfully small way.

Right from the flight over, you’ll notice the difference with no more than a couple of dozen visitors each week, you’ll get the feeling of being in a small select group (without the usual price tag associated with exclusive travel!). And even though the flights in the middle of the night, it may pay to make the effort to be friendly to your fellow travellers chances are you’ll be bumping into them time and time again during your holiday.

Niue is one of the worlds smallest self governing states it has a population of just 1,500 – no high rise, no traffic lights, no ATM or digital phone network just a friendly, laid back place where everyone knows everyone and the person who has just waved at you could well be the Premier.

The beaches are tiny, the restaurants have just a few tables and there are just over 50 rooms for guests to stay in most of them spread between small, modern guesthouses and motels. The biggest accommodation, Matavai Resort, has only 24 rooms visitors to Niue are known by their first name not their room number.

The diving is intimate too with no more than four divers per boat, it’s just a matter of convincing three friends to come along with you to have your own private charter and free choice of dive sites.

Only one of you diving? No problem, the boats are small enough that it’s easy to take out just a single guest. But even at the busiest time of year (between July and October), there are no more than eight divers in the water at any one time and with visibility exceeding 30 metres on a bad day, it’s easy to spread out but still stay within sight of each other.

The great thing about diving with a small group is individual needs can be catered for from photographers to cave divers to people who prefer to potter around in the shallows a site can be chosen to suit pretty much everyone. And with the same divers sharing their experiences together every day, friendships are often forged over surface intervals and email addresses exchanged at the end of the week.

Interactions with marine life are also on a much more personal level it’s often just yourself and one other swimming with the spinner dolphins on the way to and from dive sites. And with just two of you and 30 of them, you’re not considered a threat so it’s easy to become absorbed into their pod. The humpback whales too seem to react well to the small number of people who swim with them on Niue every year. There are no large tourist boats, waiting in a queue for their turn to put people in just two RIBs with no more than six swimmers each whale encounters don’t get much more memorable than this.

There are many wonderful places to dive in the world but how many of them offer a truly individual experience, where it’s not a case of cramming as many people as possible onto a boat but trying to make a holiday as personal as possible? If you think big is better you haven’t been to Niue.
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