Wallis and Futuna is a French overseas territory comprised of a chain of islands in the South Pacific located between Fiji and Samoa. The territory is composed mainly of two groups of islands: the Wallis Islands and the Hoorn Islands which consists of the islands of Futuna and Alofi. Mata-Utu is the capital and the largest city of these territories and is located on Wallis Island. Wallis and Futuna offers tourists a quiet and unassuming getaway, where they can relax in the backdrop of crater lakes, lagoon islands, low hills, fringing reefs, and beach palm trees while experiencing the charms of French Polynesian culture.
The tropical islands of Wallis and Futuna are volcanic in origin and were first settled by the Lapitas some 3000 years ago. The early settlers farms, fished, and hunted the pigs on the islands. At various times, the islands suffered bloody invasions by the Tongans, as evidenced archaeologically. The Dutch were the first Europeans to discover these islands in 1616. In 1842, the French declared a protectorate over the islands. In 1959, after being given the opportunity of independence, the inhabitants voted to remain a French overseas territory.
Wallis and Futuna’s main attraction is, of course, its beaches and lagoons. The lagoons around some of the uninhabited islands in Wallis like Faioa, Nukuhifala, and Nukuhione offer some of the best swimming and picnicking spots. Alofi beach in Futuna is a favorite as well. The standard water activities like kayaking, canoeing, sportfishing, diving, snorkeling, sailing, surfing, etc. are all possible and often embraced by locals and tourists alike.
Wallis and Futuna’s unique attractions, however, center on its spectacular crater lakes. Lake Lalolalo in Wallis is a famous one that forms an almost perfect circle. There is a rocky cliff that falls down to the waters by way of a 100 feet drop. The lake is the scene of frequent sightings of tropical birds. More wildlife can be observed in the tropical rainforests of Wallis, which are almost perfectly preserved in their original ancient state.
The archaeological site of Talietumu on Wallis is another must-see, featuring the fortified ruins of a Tongan settlement dating back to the 15th century. The site is partially restored and bares a defensive wall, passages, platforms, stone paved roads, tree-dotted lawns, and a fortress.
Besides the tourist sites and beaches, you’ll find great restaurants, hotels, and shops in Wallis and Futuna, including fine French cuisine and modern shopping venues like the Uvea Shopping Center. Be sure to join in, if you get the chance, on the ceremonial kava drinking that is customary among the locals. The best time to visit these islands is between May and October to avoid the cyclones and hurricanes.