Tokelau


Well, if you’re looking to run away from it all, Tokelau is the place. Tokelau's name is Polynesian for “north wind”, and it's one of the most isolated places on earth. It takes 20 hours to sail there from its nearest neighbour, Samoa, and you can forget about flying - there's no airstrip. It's largely due to this remote factor that indigenous culture has been preserved on Tokelau to a far greater degree than elsewhere in the Pacific. Each of Tokelau's three atolls - Atafu, Fakaofo and Nukunonu - is a ribbon of tiny motu (islands) surrounding a lagoon. If you’re into counting off countries, don't leave tiny Tokelau for last. This dot in the Pacific may well be gone, swallowed up by rising seas due to global warming; it has no significant land that is more two metres above high water of ordinary tides.

There is little tourism on the atolls of Tokelau. Thus, there are few tourist attractions... which mean that a visit to Tokelau affords a quiet getaway, far off the beaten path. The main recreational activities are swimming and snorkeling in the lagoons and coral reefs. During a special event, such as a holiday or pageant, tourists may be treated to performances such as traditional singing and dancing. There is one hotel in Tokelau, the Luana Liki. This hotel is located on Nukunonu. There is one resort, Fale Fa, also on Nukunonu. There is also a guest house on Atafu, the Feliti Lopa. The best way for tourists and travelers to get to Tokelau is from Apia, Samoa, by ship or the government-run MV Tokelau provides passenger and cargo services to and from Apia every two weeks. The trip takes about 24-36 hours each way, and the ship makes the round trip in five days. Passengers must bring their own mattresses to sleep on. Food is provided, and there is one bathroom. Since there is no harbour in Tokelau, launches are used to embark and disembark.

I guess if you’re rich, you can also get there by private boat or private helicopter. The few roads on the islands are almost entirely within the four main villages. Most people get around by walking or bicycle.

Travel between islands is by small boat or traditional outrigger canoe.

The Luana Liki Hotel in Nukunonu is the only public eating place, which is in the only hotel. If you are staying at the Luana Liki, you will get three meals per day included in the price. Samoan beer is available in shops and at the Luana Liki Hotel, but sale is strictly rationed in Nukunonu. The Luana Liki Hotel in Nukunonu is Tokelau's only commercial accommodation.

Most food and drink is shipped to the islands, as little can be grown on these coral atolls. Each atoll consists of one village. The villages have a small-town, rural character, although, as a result of the small amount of inhabitable land, they are densely populated. All the villages hold regular inter-island sports, dancing, and fishing competitions. There, alcohol is rationed.

Tokelau traditional woven handicrafts

Traditional foods include fish, sweet potato, taro root, breadfruit, pork, poultry, and coconuts. A fermented drink, Kaleva, is made from coconut milk. Imported foods are available in the village cooperative stores.

Satellite TV and internet are recent arrivals.

Tokelauans produce fine woven handicrafts, such as mats, bags, hats, and fans.

This would not be your conventional holiday. If you are looking for peace and a completely different experience, I’m thinking Tokelau is for you.


Author: Kathryn Hartwell


References: Tokelau.com, bbc.com, lonelyplanet.com, wikitravel.org

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