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              A Travel Guide about Niue Island in the South Pacific

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Geography of Niue

Niue looks like the shape of a pear bitten twice at the left bottom part. It is located at Latitude 19º 03' 48" South with Longitude 169º 52' 11'' West, making part of the Polynesia Triangle in the South Pacific Ocean. It is a tropical paradise, considered one of the biggest coral island in the World. (for more details and maps (click here). Niue is considered one of the biggest coral islands in the world.

After Mr. Volcano was turned off, and its crater filled with sea water, corals started to grow inside, occupying  the empty space. The sea floor also decided to do almost like a samba dance. It goes up and down many times submerging and exposing the corals in relation to the sea level. But one day, and I am talking about a process that took millions of years, the sea floor got tired of up and downs and decided to rise about 70 meters out of the water, so Niue Island was formed. Due to this fact, Niue is entirely made of Corals and Limestone. It is like a finger pointing up coming from 5000 meters deep to the surface and ending up with a cover of dead corals. This is one of the reasons Niue has no beaches, because all grains generated by grinded corals simple slides down to the depths. of the Ocean. There is no continental shelf to retain the sand. Niue is nicknamed "The Rock" because that's what it is, a huge coral rock covered by green.

A Coral platform surrounds Niue and it is not continuous, having breaks here or there. The reef flats have some hollow parts underneath, meaning that many submarine caves can be explored by scuba divers. On the top of the reef, rock pools exists everywhere. Some are just a small hole and others are big enough to snorkel inside, just like in a huge natural aquarium full of interesting fishes, corals, marine plants, and many other sea creatures. The reefs also meet the cliffs of the Island in which the crash of waves shaped fantastic caves, some full of stalactites and stalagmites inside. These reefs provide lots of important things to the island, from protection to food and touristicly they are one of the highlights of Niue.  The West side of Niue where Alofi is, is better sheltered from waves and wind than the other parts of the Island, but Cyclones come often amd usually choose this side to dump its fury. During low tide periods, it is very easy to explore the reef flats on foot, but one must do so only during relatively calm seas and keeping the upcoming tide  in mind. (reef shoes are very good to walk on these reefs).

The forests in Niue are interesting and magnificent. Interesting because they grown on the top of corals, not earth, causing trees and plants to feed on organic matter in decomposition from other dead plants and trees. If you walk inside Huvalu Forest or Vaikona track, you'll notice that the floor is made of layers over layers of brown leaves. After adding humidity and heat, you end up with a kind of dark mud rich in nutrients. Moulds and fungus also proliferate in this kind of environment. Niue is unbelievable green, it doesn't matter where you are on the Island, except if a drought occurs.The forests occupies about 1/3 of the Island with the other 2/3 being covered by small plants, all, very resistant to salinity. Coconuts and Paw Paw did pretty well in the Island as well as some other agricultural projects such as Noni Juice which has been exported on a small scale. The forests of Niue are another highlight of the Island with its amazing tracks and trails presenting no hazards for tourists. There are no deadly animals  in this paradise.

Due to the conditions, Nuie is considered to have one of the cleanest seawater in the world.  The water has  amazing transparency, capable of making any diver or snorkeller smile from ear to ear. For diver's the purple water always represented a very good range of visibility and in Niue this visibility can reach 60 meters deep and in focus during the dry season. Its is not uncommon to have between 40 and 50 meters visibility along the year. Due this transparency, corals in Niue grows deeper, because corals need sunlight to develop and even Niue having a fair amount of rain and cloud skies once in a while, the sunlight can penetrate more than other areas. Unfortunately, Cyclone Heta did destroy alot of Niue on land and also in the sea, destroying large extensions of corals around the island. Anyway, the corals are slowly growing back again. That's right, if you want to feel like floating in air, just put a mask on and go for a swim or snorkel and you will understand what purple water means.

The Southwest coast of Niue just before Sunset and viewed from Alofi's wharf. (No Photoshop used -These are natural colours). Cyclone Heta and its 300 Km/h winds produced waves so big, that they went over the cliffs destroying houses on the top. Can you imagine something like that? I can't, but it is true.

 

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