One of the World's Smallest Countries
The island of Niue is one of the world’s smallest countries, and is a large block of coral. It is a table top island made of coral and limestone; approximately 12 miles long and 10 miles wide. It has awesome caves under ground and sea. The Niueans, not wanting total independence, chose a free association with New Zealand, which allows them to have New Zealand citizenship and internal self-government. There are approximately 2,000 people living in Niue and many more have settled in New Zealand. You can check out their website at www.niueisland.com.
The passage to Niue was relaxed and only required one overnight as the distance was about 130 nautical miles. We arrived on August 26th. As we approached Niue we were struck by how flat it appeared. Coming around to the anchorage we were greeted by 12 other boats resting on mooring balls. The boat basin is an open anchorage (read rolly) that has some shelter in the prevailing Easterly winds. As there are only 14 mooring balls and the anchorage is deep (70-100 feet), we were grateful to get one of the last two moorings.
The first thing we noticed as we settled into our new mooring was a sea snake swimming up to our boat. It was black with turquoise rings. These are supposedly extremely poisonous but since their mouths are so small they are unable to bite us. During our stay we saw other sea snakes as well as a sea turtle swimming in the anchorage. The water visibility can often reach 200 feet or more as the coral and limestone “filter” out sediment in the water. Niue is known to have some of the best water visibility in the world. The week before we arrived there was a whale with her calf swimming in the anchorage for the day and friends of ours on Tin Can and Seayanika jumped into the water and swam near them. How wonderful that must have been to experience that!
Our first night in Niue we went with about 15 other “yachties” for fish and chips. We met another cruising couple from the boat “No News” who are younger than us. In fact, they are the first cruising couple we've met since leaving San Diego who are actually younger than us. It was weird talking with Abby about an event that occurred in 1987 and realizing I was in 10th grade when she was in 3rd grade. We're used to hanging out with people 20-30 years older and doing the same to them. Actually in the cruising community we love that age, job, financial status, home country and political views rarely are given much value in a relationship. It's more about the personal qualities of each individual.
The weather continued to be a bit drab throughout our six days in Niue though we made the most of it. We enjoyed several evenings on our boat with other yachties making dinner and watching movies (we finally saw “The Incredibles”). Since a return to a fully operational galley I've been cooking a lot! I continue to be amazed by the things we take for granted and cruising has definitely made us appreciative for the simple things in life.
One day we rented a car with our friends on No News and took a tour of the island. We were surprised how big the island was. We drove up to a spot called Togo where we took a half hour hike to reach a limestone cliff looking out to the ocean. The scene was somewhat similar to a moonscape. To the South there was a ladder we could climb down that led to a sandy area with palm trees and caves. We, of course, investigated that area.
We then drove on to a spot called Vaicona where we had been told about a limestone cave we could climb through to reach a fresh water swimming hole. After hiking for a while we came upon a sign indicating the cave and daring us to enter at our own risk. The four of us climbed through the cave, eventually needing a flashlight to guide our way. We then spotted the clearest blue water below us! Anxious to jump into the water we started looking for access to the pool below. After searching the area to find a way down we discovered a rope we could use to lower ourselves to the pool area. By the time we reached the water we were hot. Though it was cooler in the cave it was also humid. We jumped into the crisp, clear water and were instantly refreshed. Somewhat dark inside the cave, we could actually see better looking through our goggles in the water than looking above water. Willingly we did some quick free diving so we could swim to other areas with air pockets. It was a great experience!
Although we were thoroughly enjoying the beauty of the people and landscape of Niue weather predictions indicated that it was time to move forward. Though this anchorage was protected from the normal Southeast trade-winds, a low pressure often visits bringing with it westerly winds and swell. When even a small low comes by we get the open Pacific Ocean rolling right into the anchorage bringing with it 2 foot plus swells. This does not make for a comfortable home. As we had already experienced two days of this after first arriving, we weren’t eager to have a repeat performance. Thus it was time to head on to our next destination. Contrary to prior plans we decided to forego American Samoa and move on to Tonga, realizing time is of the essence as cyclone season, which begins in November in the Southern Hemisphere, is quickly approaching. Thus…on to the Kingdom of Tonga!
Sam & Sally
Total Miles Traveled on Moana: 7,857nm
08/26/2005 – 09/01/2005
19° 03’ South
169° 55’ West