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Niue (pronounced 'New-ay' – which means 'behold the coconut') may be the world’s smallest independent nation, but the Pacific island known as the ‘Rock of Polynesia’ (or just 'the Rock') packs in plenty of surprises for the bold traveller. The island sits in the middle of the triangle formed by Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands. This is rugged terrain: ditch the deck chair and unpack your hiking boots and sense of adventure.

You will need to walk, climb and sometimes swim to see the attractions hugging Niue’s outrageously scenic perimeter. Get yourself a rent-a-car or motorcycle and explore the numerous caves, snorkelling spots and cliff-encircled chasm pools en route.

As per many other South Pacific island groups (the Vava'u group in Tonga springs to mind), from June to September humpback whales nurse their calves in Niue’s safe warm waters. But give the whales a bit of space: instead, descend further to the indigo depths for some of the best diving in the South Pacific. Kayaking, fishing, caving and guided hiking trips are also on offer: check out for the lowdown.

Niue’s capital Alofi (population 1600) stretches out for several kilometres along the west coast, and has a reasonable range of budget and midrange guesthouses, plus cottages, motels, restaurants and a resort.

Curiously, in 2003 Niue became the world's first 'wi-fi nation', with free wireless internet available to everyone who lives here!

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South Pacific