Skip to content

Exploring One of the Pacific’s More Unusual Places

We all know that, for now, many of the Pacific’s usual cruising destinations have closed their borders — a situation that has no doubt left many sailors lamenting the lack of places to go. However, a recent email from Jamis MacNiven (of Buck’s of Woodside) reminded us that there are many locations we may not even realize exist and that (just maybe) are worth adding to your cruising list — if you dare. Beyond being a restaurateur, MacNiven is a Bay Area boater and global adventurer who has seen and written about many strange and interesting locations in various parts of the world on his blog Pacific Voyages. His latest post talks about Niue, an island country in the South Pacific Ocean, which lies about 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand. We found his description of the island quite interesting, and rather funny.

That tiny dot represents Niue’s location. Blink and you might miss the 101-square-mile island.
© 2021 TUBS

MacNiven points out that almost no one travels to Niue, and asks, “Why don’t people go to Niue?”

He continues, “Well, one reason might be that the language is challenging. They all speak English, sure, but the word for thank you is fakaaue. So if you’re in a hotel and you compliment them they will say … well — just sound it out. Another reason that this place went unnoticed for so long after the rest of the Pacific was sliced and diced by European and American interests is that when Captain Cook stopped by in 1774, he was met on the beach by warriors with blood smeared all over their lips and teeth, throwing rocks and spears. Cook named Tonga the ‘Friendly Islands’ and Tahiti the ‘Society Islands’ but he called this place The Savage Islands and as a result ships steered clear. In fact, the locals were really a bit miffed that Cook didn’t realize the Niueans were just playing hard to get, because in 1900 the islanders petitioned England to include them in the British Empire. Queen Victoria initially said yes, but when the British realized that they really wanted to just go on the dole the Queen suggested New Zealand might take them, and they did.”

According to Wikipedia, Niue is one of the world’s largest coral islands. It’s surrounded by a coral reef, and the only major break in the reef is near the capital, Alofi.
© 2021 Google Earth

We recommend you read the rest of the story yourself. After all, as MacNiven says, “Travel to places you will never go.” And we all could do with a good old-fashioned adventure right about now.


  1. Paul Clausen 2 years ago

    This island was mentioned in the book ‘Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before Paperback’ – August 1, 2003 by Tony Horwitz.
    The was a specific banana that turned the teeth and lips red. Apparently there is really nothing to do on the island other than drink, as mentioned in the book .

  2. Lon Bubeck 2 years ago

    I stopped there in 1979 when I was sailing on a French 30′ Arpege and found it one of the most beautiful and fascinating islands in the South Pacific. The water surrounding the island was crystal clear, the diving fantastic and there were limestone sea-caves around the perimeter of the island that were spectacular. Well worth visiting if you can.

Leave a Comment

The smaller the boat the bigger the adventure
Curtis Havel spent five months building his 11-foot-long gunter-rigged sloop from a Chesapeake Light Craft kit. It turned out to be a lot of fun to build, and to sail.
Prada Cup Final
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli defeated INEOS Team UK 7-1 to advance to the 36th America's Cup Match against Emirates Team New Zealand beginning on March 6 in Auckland.