Situated in the South Pacific, Wallis and Futuna is a collection of three islands and various tiny islets that offer visitors the opportunity to bask in the beauty of unspoilt nature, while maintaining the comforts of home. Here, tourists are welcome, but not encouraged, allowing those who do choose to travel to the islands the chance to visit the country’s mesmerizing sights without the crowds that are usually found on several nearby islands, including Fiji and Samoa.
If you have yet to visit this gorgeous area, here are 10 reasons you should definitely make plans to travel to Wallis and Futuna.
The beaches are incredible.
It almost goes without saying that Wallis and Futuna’s beaches are nothing short of spectacular. Pristine white sand and water that runs the gamut from sky blue to deep turquoise are everywhere. Best of all, they are far from crowded…you could easily go the entire day without running into anyone. The water tends to be safe and gentle, especially along uninhabited Alofi Island, making it a good choice for less experienced swimmers. Be sure to look out over the water for the dolphins that often play in the area, as well as the occasional pygmy killer whale.
The snorkeling is amazing.
Wallis and Futuna are known for their spectacular coral reef formations. In fact, Wallis is completely surrounded by coral reefs, creating a lagoon-like appearance between the reef and the shores of the beach. Futuna also boasts narrow fringing reefs along its coast. While it’s true that there are plenty of reefs within the Pacific, many have been subject to bleaching. Those around Wallis and Futuna remain undisturbed and are home to everything from parrotfish and butterfly fish to stingrays and other marine creatures.
You can visit a lake situated in a volcanic crater.
Surrounded by the jungles, Lake Lalolalo is a spectacular crater lake that almost forms a perfect circle. Unfortunately, the lake is topped off by a 100 ft. rock cliff, making it impossible to swim in. However, it’s still worth seeing the inky blue and pea green waters that extend 262 ft. into the ground.
Wallis and Futuna give you the opportunity to experience an entirely different type of vacation.
When you visit Wallis and Futuna, you have the chance to take a true vacation. Yes, there are cars, electricity, TV, Wi-Fi, and other creature comforts, but that’s where the similarities to other vacation hotspots end. You won’t find crowded tourist shops filled with t-shirts and other tchotchkes. You won’t have to carefully plan out a schedule of attractions to see. You won’t have to deal with crowds or trying to navigate the public transportation system. Instead, you’ll get to sit back, relax, and enjoy the solitude.
You’ll be able to try plenty of delicious food.
Despite not being a touristy spot, there are several places for visitors to eat yummy, homemade food either grown or caught in the area. You can expect to see dishes that rely heavily on fresh fish, sweet potatoes, bananas, croissants, freshly baked bread and French pastries, and much more. Restaurant Le Paradis sits directly on the water, is said to serve delicious Polynesian dishes, and tends to be a favorite of visitors.
You’ll get to experience nature at its very best.
Unlike other vacation spots, Wallis and Futuna remains largely undisturbed. The enchanting landscapes include tropical flowers, mango and papaya trees, coconut palms, and pine trees, as well as multiple crater lakes with waterfalls. In particular, the forest on Alofi is filled with lush and diverse flora, as well as birds, frogs, lizards, snakes, and more. For the best views, head to the top of Mont Puke, the island’s highest point.
You can explore the ancient ruins of Talietumu.
Located on Wallis, Talimetumu (Kolo Noi) is believed to have been built around 1450 as a Tongan settlement. For protection, the fortress was surrounded by a massive stone wall. In 1535, anyone left the area after the assassination of King Takalaua. Today, you can still visit several well preserved structures, as well as a central stone platform, where the king would hold court.
The locals are welcoming and enjoy sharing their culture.
Locals tend to be more than happy to welcome visitors to Wallis and Futuna. A variety of festivals are celebrated throughout the year, which visitors are often invited to. The festivals include music, canoe races, dance performances, sword dancing, and a community feast that includes pigs that have been roasted and sat out in the sun.
Locals are helpful.
It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that there isn’t a taxi service or car rental agency on the islands. (There is a car hire service, but it tends to be expensive.) Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about walking all over the island. If you are walking, it is highly likely that a local will stop and offer you a ride to your intended destination. In most cases, you’ll be told to hop in the back of a pickup truck. By the way, most residents speak French, though they often have basic conversational English skills.
There are several exquisite churches to visit.
From the Neo-Romanesque style Mata-Utu Cathedral to the unusual lines and steeped tower of Basilica of St. Peter Chanel, churches on the island are beautiful and unique. Chanel was erected in honor of Polynesia’s only Catholic saint. The saint’s bones are in a glass enclosure at the front of the church, while his skull is housed in a separate silver casket. The chapel at Point Oneliki is also worth visiting, primarily due to its location. It sits above the “blue hole,” a spot where lava once flowed to the sea.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker