Taking about eight hours to circumnavigate the entire island by foot, and with a population of just under 1300, Niuatoputapu Island is a small but beautiful place. Niuatoputapu port is in Falehau on the north side of the island. Falehau is one of the islands three main villages, the other two are Vaipoa (in the centre of the island) and Hihifo in the west. Hihifo is the administrative centre of Niuatoputapu island, containing telecommunications, a post office, police station and a school. Niuatoputapu's nearest neighbour is the volcanic island of Tafahi, 9km to the north-east. Just besides Vaipoa, at the centre of the island, lies the 157 meter high remains of a volcano that erupted around three million years ago. Large reefs teeming with marine life surround the island on stunning, deserted white beaches. The majority of visitors to Niuatoputapu arrive via private yachts between June and September. Niuatoputapu is a port of entry meaning many yachts stop here en route from the Samoa's to the Vava'u group. There is only one marker and two range sites at the port (inaccurate by about five meters) so care is needed. A series of reefs form much of the north coast but there is a passage to the Falehau wharf where yachts anchor just to the north-west.
During their 1616 circumnavigation of the globe Dutchmen Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire were the first to put Niuatoputapu island on European maps. After they could not find suitable anchorage at nearby Tafahi the made the 9km south to Niuatoputapu where they were received with some hostility, boarding their ship and attacking with clubs before being introduced to muskets and western gunpowder. After that they were aligned under an uneasy truce, enabling the trading of more coconuts (Niuatoputapu means ‘sacred coconut') . After yet another attack, the Dutchmen headed further westwards and left the island behind.
On the north-west side of the island, near Niuatoputapu port in Falehau, are stunning and deserted beaches and at low-tide the plenitude of reefs can be easily explored for their abundance of sea-life and colourful shells
Niutoua spring flows through a crack in the rock just west of Hihifo. On a hot day the locals will swim here in the cool and clear water where an abundance of freshwater black fish also swim, although there is a ban on fishing in the spring.