Are you an intrepid traveller? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to explore the lesser-trodden islands of the South Pacific? Well, if you have, then this is the article for you as we are going to explore the ups and downs of the island nation of Tokelau. With a population of just over 1,500 and stretching upon 10 square kilometres of space, it is somewhat eluded by the tourism industry. There are three atolls (Atafu, Nukunonu, and Fakaofo) that form the country and the people are mostly spread in four small villages. So, before we spoil too much here, get ready to pack your bags for a tropical adventure because today, we are going to look at the top five facts pertaining to this hidden gem.
1. Getting in and around:
Alright, so right off the bat, you have to understand that for such a small population, there was no need for a functioning airport. What this inadvertently translates into is that Tokelau can mostly be visited via ships and boats. Additionally, all visitors must obtain a permit to visit the country from the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office in Apia (the capital and the largest city of Samoa). This has to happen at least two weeks before going there, so watch that calendar! Once you hit the island of your choice, the best way to get around is to walk. It’s not like you can get lost in a 10-square-kilometre country (wink)!
A small population does not always translate into peace and quiet but in the case of Tokelau it is exactly like that. The locals are calm about everything and they hardly ever stress themselves about daily matters. Staying polite has never been this easy as foreigners are rarely seen there and the residents enjoy interacting with them. In fact, it is they who always try to stay polite with travellers. This should be a bidirectional attitude, though, so always try to greet them with respect and smile. Polynesians love to smile, as you will find (wink)!
As you might have guessed, the part where we have to discuss the tipping etiquette was about to come. While you might be a generous person by all standards, tipping in Tokelau is by no means expected – it is not part of the local culture. Since there is a single hotel for tourists in the entire region, you can make up your own mind about what to do. Basically, if you want to leave a little extra, just tell the person in question why you are doing it. The tips will thus be accepted and beamed upon. Just remember the fact that Tokelau is a laid-back country – no worries should plague your mind!
4. Language barriers:
Did you know that only about 4,000 people in the world speak the Tokelauan language? This is sad because it truly is a magnificent tongue with fine intonations. If nothing else, you should know that first half of the song “We Know the Way” from the film “Moana” (written by Opetaia Foa’i and Lin-Manuel Miranda) is in Tokelauan. The language is endangered and on its way to disappearance. Why? Because most of the locals speak English. In order to increase the professional success rate of their children, local parents often teach them English as their first language and omit Tokelauan. So, in short, there are no language barriers that you should be concerned about.
5. Money and services:
The currency in Tokelau is the New Zealand Dollar and you should be prepared before setting foot in the country. Why? Well, because if you do not have cash on you, you are going to find yourself in the nasty situation of not being able to pay quite often. This is due to the fact that credit cards are not too common there. Crime, like on many Pacific islands, is virtually non-existent, so the danger of getting robbed is minimal. Pack some cash and relax!
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Tokelau and would you visit it again if you had the chance? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and be sure to check back from time to time for new articles and updates! Safe travels!