Welcome to my personal travel journal! If you don't know me, that's OK! I hope you'll enjoy reading about some of my adventures and misadventures, and hopefully learn something new about a corner of the world.

Recent updates:
2015-10-06: Day 8 of Niue in 2011.
2015-10-05: Day 7 of Niue in 2011.
2015-09-29: Day 6 of Niue in 2011.

For list of trips, see TABLE OF CONTENTS.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Washaway café on Sunday night. Pretty happening, and in a very cozy atmosphere by the beach.
Having dinner with the girls staying at Kololi. We discussed possible plans for touring tomorrow. Due to me not realizing they have already ordered, the slow service, and a small order mix-up, I got my food maybe two hours after theirs. Oh well, it's a nice place to chat over a few drinks anyway. I had the burger this time (the other available food option other than the fish focaccia), and it was great - big, fresh, and juicy.

Just playing around with my camera and caught a good photo of the moon in the fading twilight.
In the evening, Brian drove me to Washaway for dinner where he had a few beers with me before some girls I was supposed to meet showed up. Jim and his wife, who owns Niue Holiday Homes, were there. They were really friendly, and told me that it was no problem I'm not staying with them - "Neal didn't call me in the morning!" they laughed. Apparently they forgot I was arriving. Jim was like a jolly old "salty sailor" - I think that's also how Alexa described him if I remember correctly. This is the view from our table. Note the moon sliver in the top left.
A blurry picture of a dolphin in the air. I noticed I lost my phone around the quarry on the way back and couldn't find it after backtracking. I reported it at the police station, and as I checked back in the next few days, they said the did a patrol around for it but didn't find it. Oh well, I guess I'm almost done with my NZ SIM card anyway, and I'll get another cheap phone if I need it. Chatting with Ira and Brian, they mentioned they still haven't found Brian's missing tools, which they're not sure if they were stolen by people on the island or "gypsy yachties." They also told a hilarious story about how people's shoes went missing so someone put out a pair of easily-recognizable shoes, which led them to catching the thief at the airport before the weekly departure!
Although there were no whales, I was treated to a show put on by a pod of spinner dolphins offshore. Spinner dolphins are famous for their areal acrobatics. I watched them jumping around doing flips and twirls in the air as the light softened and warmed from the lowering sun and to the rhythmic drumming noises from the large waves.
Video of the huge wave splashes against the cool coral cliff formations. The deep rushing sound reminded me a lot of the erupting Mt. Yasur volcano on Tanna Island in Vanuatu. I guess both involve large amounts of matter and gasses being pushed up quickly around rock.
Some of the mesmerizing large waves pummelling the shore. The water was so clear that you could see the coral reefs under the waves - I wonder how turbulent the waters are around the reefs under the forming waves.

Getting a bit closer to the water. The somewhat overgrown trail led to some sharp and interestingly-shaped coral cliffs that plunged into the water. When larger waves dash against the abrupt cliffs, it creates tall plumes of water that reach over the top of the cliff! You can see one such plume in this photo.
View south towards Matavai and Avatele. There wasn't much of a view from the area by the road, but after looking around a bit, I found an easily-missable trail that leads closer to the edge.
Ana'ana Point is a bit hard to identify is it isn't signposted. In fact, I'm not even sure if this is Ana'ana Point, but it seems to match the description of a dirt loop extending from the main road. You can see my trusty steed in the bottom left of the photo. In Niue, you don't have to worry about locking up a bike or a car, since if anyone steals it, it's easy to track down the thief, so these kinds of thefts don't happen.
View north towards Ana'ana. I can't wait to see what those giant wave plumes look like up close!
View of the area south towards Avatele. That peninsula, Tepa Point, is one of the tapu areas of Niue. One theory about why tapus exist is for resource management. For example, there is a consensus that the biggest uga (coconut crag, pronounced "oong-ga") come out of the tapu areas. In fact, there is event a specific story about someone who hunted uga in the tapu area and was cursed and suffered terrible consequences as a result. I don't know how many people take the stories literally, but either way, it's discouraged me from wanting to explore the area, and especially hunting uga there! With everyone adhering to tapus, it definitely gives those areas a sense of mystery and magic for me!
The vast view of the ocean by the resort. I heard some whales have just started arriving the day before my arrival, so I kept an eye out for them, but nothing so far. Niue is a popular place for whales to linger with their young around this time of year.
They also had some impressive-looking pools and various levels of decks that seems like it would be a great place to sit with a drink watching the sun set and the stars come out. Although I do have to say, Tamakautoga, the village by the resort didn't look nearly as impressive.
The resort had a great view of the area, and the wide expanse of ocean right in front of it was truly inspiring. In the right season, you are supposed to be able to see whales off the deck of the resort as well.
They had a great deck, pools, and reception - the only place on the island that felt truly modern (not sure if that's a good or a bad thing). I heard that apparently, one of the very few (maybe only one or two) Chinese people on Niue worked here.
On the way to Ana'ana, I make a quick stop at Matavai Resort, the only large-scale / luxury resort on the island. On a somewhat random note - for some strange reason, when I see the Google buses that say "Bus to MTV", I've internalized that as "Bus to Matavai."
Another view back towards the beach. The north (left) side of the beach appears to have a basic small dock.
View back towards Avatele Beach. Fascinating sharp rock formations like this are all around Niue - I'm starting to understand where the name "Rock of Polynesia" comes from. I'm also starting to see how the belief that the "above-water portion of Niue is wider than the underwater portion" can develop - there are so many overhanging rock formations around. Actually, I still don't know if that belief is true or not.
I noticed these urchins that appear to me boring trails in the rock. They were tiny. Are these baby urchins? Are these the so-called "rock urchins?" And why are they chewing through the rock? Looks like another interesting thing to read about when I have some time! I love encountering and learning about new things on my travels.
Looking south from where I turned back. I did see the buoy Willie told me about, and strongly considered jumping off the ledge and swimming out there, but can see myself get stuck out in the ocean since the waves made the reef area treacherous to swim through - and the entire area including the beach is ringed by reefs. Someone mentioned I might be able to swim back through a channel in the coral to the beach, but the ocean looked pretty choppy and I wasn't certain where the channel was.
A quick video of the pits being filled and drained. They look harmless when full, but scary when drained.
The waves were pretty large here, causing the potholes to fill and drain rhythmically. With larger waves, the holes would overflow, sending a gush of water everywhere around it. I was careful not to get too close to them and not to slip since I didn't want to be sucked into one by a strong backflow.
The other tricky part about walking along the ledge is the numerous potholes, especially near the edge of the ledge, which becomes tricky at narrower areas.
I followed the shelf of coral rocks south from the beach. I was careful not to step on any coral while enjoying some views of the area including tiny coves.
Willie mentioned that at low tide, it is possible to swim out to Snake Gully by the buoy visible from just around the corner from the beach. Although it is high tide now, I thought I'll check it out just in case, since I really wanted to see Snake Gully. Snake Gully is home to katuali, a sea snake found only in Niue. Although extremely venomous, they are not aggressive, and pose minimal danger to humans. Since they live on the floor of the gully but need to breath at the surface, snakes are always swimming up and down around Snake Gully. Someone I met before arriving in Niue told me that they are curious, but if you don't want them coming right up to you to check you out, you can just bop them on the head and they'll go away.
The cafe was pretty busy during lunch. There is a self-service bar here, but it's now apparently only for locals, especially when it's busy. I wonder if there have been a few unscrupulous, or maybe just overly drunk, tourists here that caused the policy to change.
After some sitting around and writing the trip journal, it was lunch time. This is the fish focaccia at the Washaway Café run by Willie, which I was told about. It was amazing - big, fresh, and tasty. The bread, which Willie makes himself, was just slightly crunchy on the outside, which provides great texture for the sandwich. Service is extraordinarily slow here since it's usually just Willie , and he takes his time to make sure the food is perfect, so make sure you order early and plan for plenty of time chatting with other guests as you wait for your meal.
The snorkelling here was pretty decent - good coral formations and fish to be seen. I did have to be a bit careful weaving around the coral patches since it was high tide, so the currents were pretty strong. I had to swim pretty strongly against the current a few times to make sure I wasn't sucked out of the reef.
Woah, check out those huge sprays of water from the waves slamming into the shore there. I made a mental note to stop by Ana'ana Point on the way back. That should be around where the waves are breaking.
View north towards the peninsula jutting out. Alofi if beyond the peninsula, and the airport juts halfway into the peninsula.
Down on Avatele Beach. The sand (or rather, broken coral) at the largest beach on Niue is quite rough , but is a popular spot for people to hang out at. I chatted with a guy reading an Assassin's Creed novel, a Swiss family, and a few others who trickled in around lunch time. Since the island is so small, everyone felt very approachable and was open to conversation. I also found that I kept bumping into the same people over and over again. There were times where someone would greet me enthusiastically by name, but I wouldn't remember who that was, since I met so many people in my time there.
Since is was Sunday, I asked a person, who turned out to be "uncle" Willie who I've been told about, setting up the restaurant if it was OK for me to swim here. He gave me the go-ahead. Apparently he's quite the rebel - his restaurant is the only one that's open on Sunday, and encourages people to swim on Sunday even when the pastor of the nearby church has complained about it. View of the cove with the simple pier - you can see the waves breaking on the reefs in the area.
Today, I decided I'll go south from Alofi since I went north yesterday. I rode to Avatele (the t is pronounced like an s), about 11km along the shore. There were quite a few interesting sites on the way including a large active quarry that the road goes through just outside of Alofi. I passed by Clayton's Bar and what is supposedly a local bar is South Alofi, which looks kind of deserted, but was pretty large and maybe a cool place to hang out. There was also the site of the former hospital, now moved inland after it blew down in a cyclone - twice.