A Complete Guide to Visiting Niue with a Disability
We’ll be honest; with lots of rocky terrain, step access to most swimming spots, and limited facilities for the disabled, Niue is not the most accessible destination for disabled travellers. But if you are craving some tropical sun, and you don’t mind there only being one resort with “wheelchair-friendly” facilities, then Niue is at least a glorious place to unwind. In this complete guide to accessibility in Niue, we list wheelchair-accessible accommodations, things to do for the disabled, and some added advice for disabled travellers.
6 Tips for Travelling with a Disability in Niue
- Come with a travel buddy – Most accommodations, shops, cafes, restaurants and even the museum has one or two steps that make handling a wheelchair on your own near impossible. You’ll need the assistance of a trusted travel companion to help with these minor hurdles
- There is no wheelchair-accessible transport in Niue for visitors so, again, a trusted travel companion to do the driving for you is essential and just about the only way to get around for disabled travellers
- If you need any specific facilities or assistance on tours or at your accommodation, it’s a good idea to contact companies prior to your visit so they can either provide advice or get themselves prepared
- The only wheelchairs available for the public in Niue are located at Hanan International Airport – it’s best to come fully self-sustaining in terms of your disability for your entire trip plus a few extra days (which will come in handy in the unlikely event that one of the limited flights off the island is cancelled).
- Although there is one hospital, there are no pharmacies in Niue. Again, bring any medical supplies you may need with you. More details on healthcare in Niue can be found in Niue Safety Tips: Is it Safe to Travel to Niue?
- For more advice, reach out to the Niue Tolomaki Auloa Association (NTAA), Niue’s disability organisation.
Accessibility at Hanan International Airport
Hanan International Airport is where you’ll perhaps find the “best” facilities for disabled travellers visiting Niue. The airport and building are flat and sealed. Although there are larger bathroom stalls which might be suitable for some wheelchair users, most are not equipped with grab rails, lower sinks, etc.
As for the boarding and disembarking procedure, there are staff on-hand to assist disabled travellers from the moment you land. For any assistance required, such as wheelchair assistance while at Hanan Airport, arrange this through your airline.
While most flight passengers use stairs to get onto the tarmac, there is an ambulift for passengers in a wheelchair. The ambulift is also used for entering the plane for your departure flight, where wheelchair users and their families/friends will be the first to board the plane.
Learn more about what to expect from Niue’s airport in our guide, Niue Arrival Airport: Which Airport to Fly into Niue.
The Best Niue Accommodations with Wheelchair Access
There are very few accommodations in Niue that have wheelchair-accessible facilities. Even then, these by no means meet the same standards as, perhaps the New Zealand or Australian Accessibility Standards for buildings. Accessibility facilities are put together at the accommodation’s own discretion.
If you require specific facilities, such as rails in the bathrooms or portable ramps, for instance, or anything else, it’s best to get in touch with accommodation providers directly. For facilities such as braille, none exist as far as we know.
Scenic Matavai Resort
It’s no surprise that Niue’s one and only full-service resort is just about the only accommodation on the island with wheelchair accessibility, which is classed as “wheelchair-friendly”. The four-star Scenic Matavai Resort provides an unbeatable location to unwind with its two outdoor pools with a swim-up pool bar, all easily accessible via wheelchair, while nightly entertainment, an on-site restaurant, and magnificent ocean views are the icing on the cake.
While there are plenty of ground-floor rooms to choose from, there is only one “Ocean Room” with an accessible bathroom, so be sure to book this in advance if required.
Check Scenic Matavai Resort out:
- Scenic Matavai Resort on Booking.com
- Scenic Matavai Resort on Trip.com
- Scenic Matavai Resort on Expedia
Other Accommodations in Niue
As for the rest of Niue’s accommodations, most are small guesthouses and private villas/holiday homes which come with all the usual challenges that the everyday home brings to people with disabilities. If you can work around it, then check out The 30 Best Accommodations in Niue to see all of your options.
Some accommodations that are slightly better for those with impaired mobility (i.e. limited steps, ground level, bathrooms with showers, etc.) include:
- Mahofi Cottage
- Lolani’s Retreat
- Anaiki Motel
- The Restoration Reef
- Lalopine Rockhouse.
Accessibility at Shops, Cafes, Transport, etc.
Buildings in Niue have not been made with accessibility in mind. Although Alofi has adequate pavements, wheelchair users will have to contend with the usual pothole-riddled roads in villages. At least there’s very limited traffic. Other facilities like disability facilities in public toilets and disabled parking spots are non-existent. Although, the latter is thankfully not too much of an issue due to Niue’s small population.
Shops and Restaurants
Niue’s two largest hubs for shops, supermarkets and restaurants are the easiest places for wheelchair users to get around. Both the Alofi Commercial Centre (Alofi town centre) and Swansons Complex (near the airport) have smooth concrete surfaces which provide easy access to all of their shops, restaurants and services.
Outside of these hubs, most shops, restaurants and even the Niue Tourism Information Centre has at least one or two steps to access the building. This is where your travel companion and their assistance will be essential.
The Most Accessible Restaurants in Niue
The easiest restaurants to access for those with impaired mobility include:
- Fana Cafe
- Dolphin Restaurant @ Scenic Matavai Resort
- Vanilla Cafe
- Cafe Tavana
- The Crow’s Nest
Transport for Disabled Travellers
There are limited ways to get around Niue, as outlined in Niue Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get Around Niue. For disabled travellers, the easiest option is to hire a vehicle and leave the driving up to your trusted travel companion (who will need to get a Niue Driver’s License). Larger vehicles like SUVs, peoplemovers and minivans are available should you require space for larger equipment. See The Best Car Rentals in Niue for all of your options.
10 Things to Do in Niue with a Disability (with Assistance)
Needless to say, the majority of Niue’s highlights are water activities and natural attractions that are very challenging for people with disabilities to access. Even for the attractions listed below, it is essential that you have someone who knows you well to also assist you on your holiday.
1. Watch the Sunset or Swim from Namukulu Ramp
Drive-down access all the way to a small swimming hole makes Namukulu Ramp one of the best places in Niue for wheelchair users to access the ocean. It’s best to swim here at low tide.
2. Relax and Dip Your Toes in the Water at Avatele Beach
One of the easiest beaches in Niue to at least see, even if not completely wheelchair-accessible, Avatele Beach delights with a vibrant reef and a white coral beach. There’s ramp access to the water, should you want to dip your feet. The current from the boat channel is strong, however, so swimming/snorkelling is best accessed from the beach.
3. Admire the Art at the Hikulagi Sculpture Park
The free outdoor Hikulagi Sculpture Park is well worth a visit when road-tripping on the east coast of Niue. See artwork recycled from rubbish that has washed up on the island’s coastline. The grass is cut short in the sculpture park, which makes it relatively accessible if you avoid the occasional muddy patch.
4. Spot Whales and Dolphins from the Whale Lookouts
Niue has signposted whale lookouts all over the island, most of which are well-sealed with concrete or a boardwalk and are easy to access. See whales between July and September and dolphins year-round. Check out the 10 Amazing Lookouts for Watching Whales in Niue for more information.
5. Mingle with the Locals at the Niue Market
Browse fresh produce, baked goods, Niuean snacks, handicrafts and gifts while meeting the locals at the Niue Market. See the 5 Best Markets in Niue for the best days and times to visit. Most markets take place in the market building next to the Tourist Information Centre. Wheelchair users are best to access the market from the gate on the left-hand side.
6. Enjoy a Pool Day
Sometimes, you just want to relax by the pool and you can certainly do that in Niue (note there are no pool lifts). Choose a place to stay with an outdoor swimming pool from The Accommodations in Niue with a Swimming Pool.
7. Experience Traditional Niuean Food at an Umu Night
An umu is an underground oven, which is a traditional style of cooking in Niue. Umu nights at the resort and restaurants provide the perfect opportunity to try all sorts of Niuean staples. Learn more about where to try an umu in The Guide to Food in Niue.
8. Browse the Exhibitions at Fale Tau Taoga Niue
The national museum of Niue holds an array of artefacts, such as treasures from World War One, historical woven wares and more. Access with some assistance is available from the top car park. The museum is one of the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Niue.
9. Watch the Waves Crash on Shore from the Uluvehi Sea Track
A short road signposted from Mutalau takes you all the way to the coast on the Uluvehi Sea Track. Although it may be difficult to access the two small caves for those with mobility impairments, the views from the road are still magnificent.
10. Stargaze in an International Dark Sky Nation
Niue is the world’s first Dark Sky Nation accredited by the Dark-Sky Association. This means it’s one of the best places in the world to stargaze.
Check out the 101 Things to Do in Niue: The Ultimate List to see if there are any other activities that are suitable.
More About Accessibility in Niue
That’s it for our full guide to accessibility in Niue, including information on disability and wheelchair access. For more tips that you might find useful, see the following guides:
- Niue Safety Tips: Is it Safe to Travel to Niue?
- Niue Travel Tips: 30 Tips for Travelling in Niue
- 25 Tips for Your Family Niue Vacation with Kids
Finally, get a complete guide to planning your trip to Niue from scratch using The Best Niue Travel Guide: Plan a Trip the EASY Way.