A Travel Guide about Niue Island in the South Pacific

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Reef Walking in Niue

The key to reef exploration in Niue is the tide. Niue is surrounded by many reef platforms that are not continuous and depending on where you are on the Island, reef flats can appear or disappear. Most of these reef flats have easy access, of course after you make your way down from the "terrace" of the Island. Reef flats in Niue attracts tourist and locals alike. The tourists love it because of the marine life and the exploration of something new, while the local people use the reef as a source of food. The government built and kept the accesses to the many reef flats in good condition and there are many signs by the side of the road to help tourists. To reach these reefs you'll have to go down about 20 metes downhill which on some tracks is an easier task than others. It is almost certain that you will have one of these reef flats to yourself.

  The tide is important because the reef flats are about sea level, a little bit below or above. This means that if the tide is high, waves are going to break on the flats spoiling the exploration. On the other side, if the tide is high but there are no waves (which is rare), you will be able to swim or snorkel over the reef. Depending on the position on the Island, there will be easy reefs to explore, tricky ones, and impossible or suicidal ones. The Alofi side (West side) is normally quieter except if a cyclone or storm is around. The best time to start the exploration is when the tide is getting low or almost at its lower mark, so you have plenty of time to finish you exploration before the income tide kicks you out. Don't go with the incoming tide or you will incur the risk of being stranded or be taken by a freak wave.

The are some reef flats with fantastic natural pools for snorkelling. In these pools the happy tourist will find a variety of colourful fish, marine plants, sea urchins, star fish and corals. Unfortunately due cyclone Heta there aren't too many corals but the ones that survived are growing back and are enough to give a sensation of being snorkelling in a huge, 100% natural, sea aquarium. In some of these pools even sea snakes can be seen and they will proudly swim ahead of you and introduce you to their friends. The water is very warm in these pools and most of them all you need is a mask, snorkel and reef shoes. Fins are not necessary but a waterproof camera will be a bonus.

The North, East and South sides of the island receives much bigger swells than the West side, where Alofi is. In consequence, reef exploration can be very risky if not impossible depending on the situation. We had a few chances in Liku on a calm day, but the day after the fury of the ocean was back again erasing any chance to step on the reef. In some parts of the island, such as Anapala, at the Southeast side (photo), the waves crashes violently against the cliffs and elevated reef pools. The spectacle is awesome. The best well known reef flats of Niue are listed on the left navigation bar on this page, under the name " Sea Tracks". so click on it if you want to know more details about each one.

Utuko Reef in Alofi. The left side rock pool provides interesting snorkelling.




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