Wild Thing: Niue, South Pacific

7 incredible island getaways from around the globe

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    Photo: David Kirkland

Eighteen hundred miles northeast of New Zealand, Niue can feel isolated. News on the island is only broadcast twice a week, swimming is frowned upon on Sundays, and, with just over 1,600 people on 100 square miles of the largest uplifted coral atoll in the world, it's the least populated self-governing ­nation on the planet after the Vatican. But the quirks are part of the allure of this rocky cave-ridden island. Visitors can angle for reef fish from traditional vaka sailing canoes ($55) or snorkel with humpbacks from July through September ($101).

But don't ignore the land. Chasms and caverns perforate the island by the thousands. ­Until the early 1800s, Niueans inhabited them instead of houses, and even today there are fewer than 100 ­accommodations on Niue. Go for the large studios at the recently opened oceanfront Matavai Motel, each of which has a private balcony perched on the rocky shore (from $106). The Huvalu Conservation Area tropical forest covers 13,000 acres, nearly one-quarter of the island, and has plenty of cycling oppor­tunities. Mountain-bike the eight-and-a-half-mile Alofi-Liku and ­Vinivini Bush Roads rainforest circuit or ride the 42-mile road around the island past beaches and along limestone cliffs (bike rentals, $12 per day).

Access: Air New Zealand flies from Auckland weekly—the 3.5-hour flight crosses the ­International Date Line, arriving 20.5 hours before it departed.

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