Wallis and Futuna Overview
Never heard of it? You're not the only one, and - given the choice - the locals plan to keep it that way; Wallis and Futuna is one of the only Pacific countries with no discernible push for the tourist buck. The two islands actually sit a fair distance apart, united by their former French colonial masters, and are home to two notably different and competitive culture, and even their own languages. Both, though, have plenty in the way of palm-strewn beaches and clear waters, and - through a combination of price and disinterest - an almost complete void of tourists
Wallis island – named after discoverer Samuel Wallis – is flanked by a lagoon and sits low in the water, home to countless odd and ornate churches, and guarded by beautiful sandy islets on all sides. French colonialism has bought with it numerous financial benefits, and led to a strange combination of traditional activities that have gone on for centuries – like fishing and growing crops – blended with satellite TV streams and an abundance of large off road vehicles. The best experiences are still the traditional ones (and you won’t find excessive luxury; Wallis is still well off the tourist radar), things like crashing at the communal houses on the offshore islands, or scanning the abundant wildlife flocking around Lake Lalolalo. There’s always the Tongan heritage to explore, too, amongst the out-of-the-way, plant-ridden ruins of To’oga Toto.
Futuna is very different. There are even less tourists there than Wallis, and hanging around can be costly, but it’s worth it for the lush jungles, picture-postcard beaches and a prominent ancient culture that lives on in the fierce (but peaceful) rivalry between the Alo and Sigave Kingdoms. Futuna is great for hikers, with imposing mountains towering over the beaches; while it’s cultural influences are more Samoan as opposed to Wallis’ Tongan influences. The tiny island of Alofi, 2kms offshore, is an ideal relaxation spot, and home to spectacular offshore swimming and an impressive watery wildlife.
It all makes for an obscure tropical travel experience littered with unforgettable cultural experiences, which adds one of those ‘look at this’ stamps to a traveler’s passport. With so few other visitors enjoying the ‘Survivor’ worthy coasts, you can sit back, relax, and indulge in a bit of purely local hospitality.