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.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

During that night, I heard of a Fijian working at Jenna's matching the description of a Couchsurfer I was in contact with beforehand. I wonder it it was him - sadly, we never got to meet. After a delicious and entertaining time, and maybe drinking a bit too much, it felt great to go to bed after such a long and eventful day. Alexa and Ira stayed up to chat a bit longer.
While the performers were dancing, I was regaled with a few stories about their lives from Ira, Brian, and Alexa.
Apparently not a lot of traditional Niuean dance moves were successfully passed down, so a lot of the motions were reconstructed by historians from a variety of sources. Hawaiian dance is also very popular in Niue.
As usual, I like posting short clips to capture the essence of the songs and dance, while still saving memory card space :/
And of course, no Island Night is complete without song and dance! It was a very personal and intimate affair, especially since the locals all know each other. The people who performed also helped out in the kitchen during the dinner!
My food. Sadly, the uga soup was running low when I got there. Salted beef lu was good. Lasagna was surprisingly tasty. I ended up getting a second plate of some fish. Dessert was ice cream, which was tasty.
Jenna's holds a weekly "Island Night" with a buffet of traditional foods and a music and dance show.
Here's a picture of Brian and Ira after we were seated at our table. I think we all had a bit too much to drink that night! We continued to run back across the street to the hostel for refills!
View of the Sunset from Niue Backpackers. After my shower, I found everyone at the hostel - Ira, Brian, Alexa, and other two ladies, enjoying drinks downstairs, so I grabbed by bottles and joined them for a great time chatting and drinking before heading over to the café.
After a long and sweaty day, I'm finally back at the backpacker's for a shower and a quick rest before "Island Night" at Jenna's Café across the street. I was treated to Niuean songs coming from a practise next door set to the soft glow of sunset as I showered. What a perfect way to relax after a long day of exploration.
Close-up of the coral in the reef.
I really like the reflection of the trees above the coral here.
The German lady from earlier and her friend were snorkelling in the area. They pointed out to me that if I look down into the water, there are many rocky overhangs under which numerous colourful fish are congregated.
A close-up of some of the rock formations along the coast. I've always found these weird formations somewhat grotesque, especially set among the paradise-like surroundings. I guess it adds a mysterious and exotic feel to the landscape.
Another view of the typical Niuean coast, this time down the coast into the distance. You can see a part of the roof of the Falefono on the right, and the all-important shipping dock down the coast.
Another view of the still waters of the reef and rock cliffs/caves lined with lush green vegetation that is so typical of the Niuean coastline. I can't seem to get enough of this!
It's time for the beautiful late-day warm glow again. Utuko Reef is very close to the Falefono, which you can see the roof of in the left side of the picture.
View out to the reef. I always love how the sun reflects off of the still reef waters around near sunset.
View of the cove with access to the reef.
Before heading back to the backpacker's, I decided to make a quick stop at Utuko Reef, which is pretty much right behind the hostel. There were a bunch of cool spider webs here that were in a dome shape.
I really liked the way this abandoned building looked. Niue is filled with abandoned buildings and some ghost towns after much of its former residents left the island nation. In fact, there are fifteen times the number of Niueans living in New Zealand than in Niue itself! Knowing the history and seeing the abandoned houses gives the island a peaceful and forlorn feel to it.
Well, I still couldn't find the mysterious chasm, but it was a nice walk on the reef with some nice views of the coastline. Time to head back up the steps.
Once again, there were many sea urchins in the clear waters. This is a larger specimen of the urchins that seem to burrow through rocks, leaving squiggly trails behind them. Because of them, I've been wearing my reef shoes since I don't want to puncture my feet on them, but I find my reef shoes don't fit as well as I hoped, and are starting to develop sore spots.
The reef cliffs where waves are breaking always feel like some kind of dangerous edge of the world to me. At low tide, the various holes filling and emptying of water makes cool radiating ripples across the reef.
The tide was much lower now, so I walked out on to the reef. The soft lighting gave everything a nice warm glow, and I had a nice view of the typical Niue coastline of rock cliffs topped by lush green vegetation.
Since I still had plenty of daylight left, and not much other plans, I decided to check out Houme Sea Track again to see if I can find that chasm.
Alright, one last view of the cave and glass-like pool before leaving. The sun is starting to get low, and I felt sentimental leaving such a beautiful place in the softening light. Leaving the cave, I bumped into two girls who I would see at the airport on my way out. Even after a week, Niue is starting to feel like a small community where everyone knows each other.
The ripples from water dripping from the cave gave this cave such a calming and mysterious feel to it, especially when set to the sounds of the waves breaking on the reefs outside the cave. Sadly, there's a lot of wind noise in this video, but hopefully you get the idea :)
The play of light and shadow in the cave was great to watch. One one side was the brilliant azure light from the sunlight passing through the pool, and the other, dark rock crevasses and overhangs.
Here's a video of the pool, showing off its aquarium-like qualities. The view of the fish from the outside was just as good as when snorkelling! There's what appears to be a lionfish just by where I stepped in to the pool, so I was very careful not to touch it since I hear they can be poisonous.
A view of a bit more inside the cave. I took a snorkel in the pool, and saw a variety of fish. There were some darker parts of the cave, where some larger elongated fish were hanging out, and moved out of my way is I approached.
Again, the water was as clear as an aquarium. It felt almost sinful to go for a swim in such a perfect pool.
My first glimpse of the pool. Wow! What a place! I can't believe this place actually exists! Inside the cave is a perfectly clear fairy pool filled with fish and coral. The formation at the inner end of the cave reminds me of a towering pipe organ in a church.
Some of the coral in the clear waters of the reef outside the cave. Note the sea urchin in the picture too.
A closer look at the cave. I like all of the messy-looking rock formations around the opening.
Looking back at the entrance cave. There's a lot of collapsed boulders, and various other caves around.
That looks like the main cave over there, turning right after exiting the previous cave.
Looking back at the entrance of the cave in the upper right of the picture.
After going down some stairs and ramps, I was at the other side of the cave, where the main attraction is supposedly reachable after walking over the reef here. I'm still surprised at how much I'm intimidated by caves when I'm alone.
I also wonder if the name of this cave related to Avaiki at all, the fabled ancestral homeland of all Polynesian cultures. The entrance cave was pretty cool, with some large formations and a walkway over rougher parts. Even in this small cave, I veered off the correct track a few times before finding the path.
The entrance to the cave. In my hour there, I bumped into two parties of people, once when arriving, and again when leaving, so I effectively had the place to myself - as with most of the other places I visited in Niue. They tell me the tide is low enough to visit.
Finally, it is time for Avaiki Cave, one of the places I'm most looking forward to visiting after hearing so much about it. I hope the tide is now low enough for a visit, since I need to walk over the reef to the cave.
Makefu, a typical small village in this area. In 2001, it had a population of 87, so it's likely to be significantly lower now.
Another one of the hand-painted signs I love so much in Niue.
Some concrete steps led to the reef under some cliffs. I didn't stay long here, since there wasn't anything really exciting, but it was a nice ocean access area.
Some more of the typical thin layer of greenery covering the rocks near the shore.
There were a couple of vakas lying around. I wonder what they are used for. Niuean vakas are built from a design and material that results in a very light boat that can be carried by just one person. Supposedly, a Niuean vaka was showcased at the World's Fair in Shanghai. There was also apparently a huge scandal with one of the people Niue was going to send to the fair - something about one of the only Chinese people on Niue breaking up with someone and cancelling last minute so they couldn't cancel his reservations or something. I forgot the details by now, but it made for an interesting story.
Since Palaha Cave took so little time, I thought I'd go and check out Makefu Sea Track. This is a typical view around this area, an occupied building or two around, with plenty of abandoned buildings and ruins surrounding it.
One convenient thing about Niue is that you never have to lock your bike or car. I'd just leave my bike anywhere, such as here at the Palaha Cave trailhead. As Ira explained it, if someone stole your bike, you'd find them pretty quickly since it's a small island.
The cave was much smaller than I expected, although in retrospect, I wish I had taken a quick walk out on the reef to have a view of the cave from the ocean.
Some of the columns are impressively big. I'm starting to confirm that I appear to have an irrational fear of large rocks in caves, especially when I'm alone.
To give you a sense of scale, the entrance to the cave is on the bottom left of this photo.
Once again, I'm surrounded by large rock formations soaring upwards.
The entrance to the cave seemed to have two or three levels. Many of the caves in Niue seem to have curiously formed multiple levels. I wonder if erosion formed these caves or if it was the coral that grew in this shape.
While Marion left to check out a weaving demonstration in one of the villages, I continued on to Palaha Cave. I was immensely relieved when I found that the cave was before the Tuapa village green.
Amusing "world's toughest golf course." I ended up staying there for two hours is I waited to use their slow but free internet. Good thing I'm almost never in a hurry on Niue.
Looking down at the clear water.
There was a small track behind the motel, so I decided to check it out. The track continues down a bit, but it didn't look too interesting lower down, so I just enjoyed the view from here. Maybe the track would be more interesting at a different tide.