Let’s go South!
Enjoy a good breakfast to get your energy levels up, then head south-southwest for a trip to Lake Lalolalo. From the lookout point, gaze at stunning views of one of the Pacific Region’s largest volcanic crater lakes. Set in spectacular scenery and rimmed by sacred rainforest (vao tapu), sheer rocky cliffs fall forty metres to the inky green waters of an eerie lake forming an almost perfect circle with a diameter of 400 metres. At least 80 metres deep, the lake hides its secrets well and is home to a species of blind eel found nowhere else in the world!
When you reach the end of the track leading back to the RT1 main road, turn off towards Vaimalau and head for Lausikula hamlet. At the foot of the cliffs, overlooking the sea, stands the impressively grandiose Basilica of St. Bernadette. Although it was built only recently (2014), you’ll be captivated by the basilica’s setting and architectural design.
Carry on towards Kolonui Tongan Fort, a ruined medieval fortress built around the elevated mound called Talietumu (a Marae or Mala´e or “Sacred Place”), bearing silent witness to the power and majesty of these conquerors of the South Seas. The fort dates back to the mid 15th century and forms part of a series of fortifications built in the southern half of the island, representing one of the Pacific Region’s most extensive walled complexes. The Talietumu mound, located at the southwest corner of the fort, forms only a small part of the complex.
Round off your tour with a visit to the Church of St. Joseph, Uvea’s oldest church, in the village of Mala'efo'ou. The interior is intricately decorated with biblical scenes and frescoes of fish and seashells reminiscent of the patterns often seen in traditional tapa cloth.
Although medieval Gothic in inspiration, the church dates back to the early 19th century and is built entirely of dressed black volcanic rock and white coral limestone. In the words of Monseigneur Bataillon, first missionary and bishop of Wallis, later the vicar apostolic of Central Oceania, “there is nothing to equal this monument in the Vicariate, or even, I believe, in all Oceania”.
If all this sightseeing has left you feeling a bit peckish, nip across the road and treat yourself to some Asian cuisine at the You You snack bar. Relax on the restaurant’s seafront terrace and enjoy lagoon views as you savour your meal!
50 shades of blue
As your plane approaches Wallis (Uvea in the local language), you’ll be enchanted by the glorious views of the lagoon, sparkling with countless tints of azure and cerulean blue, encircled by a coral reel protecting the lagoon from the tumultuous Pacific Ocean.
No stay in Wallis is complete without a day spent exploring the islets. 14 dream islets floating in the lagoon surrounding Wallis can be reached by taxi-boat, with most boasting facilities for visitors. Each islet has something different to offer, so you can choose from a host of activities for your outings: snorkelling in the pristine lagoon wonderland, stunning viewpoints, beaches of fine white sand, chapels, visits to the coral reef, and even everything you need for a night camping out under the star-studded Pacific skies! Don’t forget to pack a picnic so you can make the most of your idyllic day in the ultimate picture-postcard setting!
You can also set off in a kayak or catamaran from the watersports centre and spend the day exploring the lagoon before stopping off at the islets.
There is so much to see and do that there really is something for everyone!
On the American trail
You’ll find traces of the US army’s stay all over the island. Wallis served as a military base for American troops stationed in the Pacific to curb Japan’s advance during World War II. Around 6,000 US soldiers spent two years based in Wallis, leaving behind many traces of their time on the island.
Set off to explore these fascinating reminders of WW2, learn about their history and explore the bunkers and other buildings left behind by the US army. Enjoy a relaxing lunch by the lagoon at La Paillote restaurant as you imagine how these American soldiers felt as they landed in Gahi Bay. If you look carefully, you’ll find visible evidence of their arrival here.
Although most US army-linked sites can be easily accessed, we recommend you get in touch with the Uvea Museum Association who will be delighted to guide you on a tour of the US army trail, finishing with a visit to the museum itself.
Futuna from on high
Hiking enthusiasts eager to climb to the summit of Mount Puke will need to set off early to avoid the hottest hours of the day. The paths leading the highest point on Futuna were once used by villagers on their way to tend the plots where they grew kava and taros. The climb takes you through lush greenery and across plateaus to the island’s most breathtaking vantage point, commanding panoramic views over the eastern tip of Futuna and the island of Alofi. If you packed a few snacks, now is the time to relax in the stunning surroundings and replenish your energy levels before the climb down. A return hike takes around 5 hours. Trails are not signposted, so it’s a good idea to arrange for a guide to accompany you.
Once you’re back at sea level, why not take a refreshing dip in Vainifao river or stop off for a swim at one of the little beaches in Vele with views across to beautiful Alofi and the setting sun.
Alofi, an enchanted island
You can set off for a whole day on Alofi, taking time to explore the island’s glorious and pristine beauties. Pure secluded bliss... A short boat trip from the wharf at Vele will take you across to the fairytale island. Then it’s up to you... You can spend the day lazing on powdery white Alofitai beach, beneath the shade of spreading tilo trees (feta'u in Wallisian, with “beautyleaf” being a common name in English), and exploring your surroundings (the island’s first freshwater well, Sacred Heart chapel, Vaivevela hot water springs, the underwater wonderland...) or you can set off on a trail through virgin forest leading you to Loka cave, a place of pilgrimage in a majestic setting of rocky coastline which shelters natural bathing pools at low tide.
Don’t forget to take along something to stave off hunger pangs! If you’re more of a beach fan and prefer a leisurely day at Alofitai, you can put in a request for one of the fishermen running the taxi boat service to lay on a sumptuous lunch of freshly caught fish, coconut crabs and taros.
Futuna through the ages
Visitors can easily spend a fascinating day exploring Futuna’s many historical and cultural sites. You can start the day at Vainui, a dramatic beach of black volcanic sand which served as the stage for a mighty battle during the Vai war between Alo and Sigave in 1839, the last great conflict between the two kingdoms.
Continue your travels by following the road around Fatua headland, along the rocky coastline, and stop off to see the petrified backbone of cannibal king Sakumani, before going on to the impressive church of Fuia where the feast day of Saint Joseph is celebrated on 1st May (don’t miss the festival if you’re in Futuna then). If you continue along the road to the east, you’ll come to a really magnificent sight, the vast Nuku taro plantation, the largest in the Pacific Region, watered by an irrigation system reminiscent of rice paddies in Asia. A little further on, at Leava, a large cross stands facing the village church, marking the place where Father Pierre Chanel landed in 1837.
After a full morning, it’s time to stop off at Bambou Bar to enjoy a tempting lunch of fresh fish and seafood, overlooking the sea, before continuing on your way. The road climbs towards Vila Malia, offering splendid views over Leava bay, then winds onwards to Kolopelu chapel, which commands stunning panoramic views over the coast of the Kingdom of Alo. From there, carry on to Vele and visit the royal burial sites of Veliteki and of Niuliki, the king who reigned over Alo when Pierre Chanel landed in Futuna, and who later ordered the priest’s assassination by the warrior Musumusu. King Niuliki was also triumphant in the Vai war (August 1839) and reigned over the whole of Futuna until his death in 1842.
Retrace your route a short way then leave the main road and climb towards the site of Fai’umu O Papa cannibal oven. Thereafter, you can head back towards Poï and stop off at Mataki Uvea lookout point to feast your eyes on the spectacular views over the basilica and the north coast of Futuna.
End your day in style with a visit to the Poï Basilica and the Chapel of St. Pierre Chanel before going on to the ancient site of Anakele and finally Pointe des Pyramides headland to watch the sun setting in fiery glory.