Wallis and Futuna – Wallis and Futuna Islands in the Pacific Ocean

Wallis Island, Wallis and Futuna

Not Norway, not Japan, not Moscow, not Dubai. The most expensive place in the world I’ve been is Wallis and Futuna Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

The Lonely Planet on Wallis and Futuna is 11 pages long and begins with a hilarious joke comparing Wallis and Futuna to Wallis and Gromit MHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAPHAPHAPH, very, very, very funny

There is a French colony here. The islands are 260 kilometers apart and had nothing to do with each other before the colonizers came along: the people of Wallis are culturally related to Tonga, and Futuna to Samoa (both are Polynesians).

Wallis and Futuna are surrounded by the highly successful tourist destinations of Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga. The lack of tourists here is thought to be a conscious choice by the locals, but that seems to be a fallacy: with the only way to get there in the form of 3 flights a week from New Caledonia and Fiji (at horse prices), tourists are impossible by themselves.

Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean between Tuvalu, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga:

Wallis Island.

Wallis looks like New York City the day marijuana was legalized:

Let’s examine the issue.

Three weeks before we arrived, a hurricane blew through Wallis with 280 km/h winds, brought down all the forest, knocked out the windows and blew out all the roofs.

The airport’s IATA:WLS tower was also ruined.

Now the locals will have a bad harvest of breadfruit, mango and avocado for several years (the fruits were blown away and somewhere the trees fell down) and they won’t be able to take credit cards – “the telephone doesn’t work because of the hurricane”.

The fallen trees should be picked up, burned, and their ash fertilized for new plantings.

Slash-and-burn farming, 2013.

Let’s take Wallis’ tourist chart and look around the island: Carte Touristique.

In this bay, eight months later, the yacht Juliette of Lebedev’s ethnographic expedition will land on the reef and break her rudder.

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The 5th Republic is a subtle superstructure over a more or less traditional way of life. France’s tasks include defense-education-medicine; mail-Internet-telephone; giving government jobs enough for a Jeep, imported supermarket groceries, and 2.1 oyro gasoline; and leaving it alone.

Everything else is provided by tradition and religion. The islands have 3 kingdoms (one on Wallis and 2 on Futuna). Society is traditionally class-based and clan-based for old Polynesia, with the ruling class of wealthy families (ʻalikiʼ) choosing a new one after the death of the next monarch (or when the previous one is very, very boring). The House of King Wallis (on the flagpole on the right is the flag of Wallis and Futuna):

There is no national liberation movement and it is not expected: there are no fools.

In France there is a huge problem with food: almost all restaurants and cafes cook according to a schedule: lunch from 12 to 15, dinner from 18 to 22. Outside of these intervals you can at least die on the doorstep of the cafe, but there will be no food. My friend ljuser kika gave me a good mnemonic rule: if you see French people on the street with baguettes (the French have a tradition of walking back and forth through the city with baguettes around the beginning of lunch and dinner) – hurry to the cafe, so you don’t miss the food.

That doesn’t help much in Wallis, though: the only restaurant in the country is outside the 3.5 hotels, so it’s shortsighted to drive out of the gate without a fast-casual noodle. The money here is the same as in French Polynesia and New Caledonia: franc pacifique , 1,000 XPF = €8.4.

A special treasure of Wallis is the numerous lakes located in the craters of former volcanoes.

Lake Lalolalo . The cliff is 30 meters high here, but you can’t prove it with a photo: you can’t climb down, the walls are steep. And the approach to the cliff through the jungle is not easy and not obvious:

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They say that after World War II, the Americans sunk their weapons here. I don’t know.

There are motu with white beaches in the lagoon around Wallis, but the sand on them is usually of coarse coral borer:

Disdain for income, even from the occasional tourist, is evident in every detail: to rent a car, go somewhere by boat or dive in, you have to pony up (and it can all fall through at the last minute). There are no signs on the roads, and if you’re not lucky enough to find a place yourself, you have to look for some local on a moped, who has already taken 10 beers.

Souvenir Shop:

Reconstruction of Tongan Fort Talietumu (our blog has written a lot about Polynesian stone structures, like here):

What the French are always strict about is funerals: in all the Pacific colonies, burials in courtyards are abolished and the dead are concentrated in cemeteries beautifully decorated with flowers and fabrics:

FW/M0JHQ Wallis Island

JA0JHQ will be active with the call sign FW/M0JHQ from Wallis Island, IOTA OC – 054, Wallis and Futuna, November 23 – 27, 2019. He will be operating on bands 160 – 10m, CW, FT8. Recent DX spots FW/M0JHQ QSL via JA0JHQ direct, LOTW. Address for QSL direct: Nobuaki Hosokawa, 1458-25 Okagami Asao-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa, 215-0027, JAPAN. The country on the DXCC diploma list is Wallis and Futuna, FW.

Wallis and Futuna Islands: in the heart of the Pacific

Tucked safely away in the Pacific Ocean, the Wallis and Futuna Islands are perhaps the most remote territory from their official capital. Paris and the tiny archipelago are separated by 16,000 kilometers. The paradise place is still very far away from mass tourism, so the nature, culture, customs and gastronomic traditions of the indigenous people of Oceania are preserved almost in pristine form here.

FW/M0JHQ Waka La, Futuna Island, Wallis and Futuna

Waka La, Futuna Island, Wallis and Futuna. Photo by Brigit and Heinz.

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Geography and Climate Peculiarities

The Wallis and Futuna Islands are part of the Polynesian Triangle, 300 km from Fiji, 370 km from Samoa, 2,100 km from Caledonia and 2,800 km from Tahiti. The area is commonly referred to as an archipelago consisting of three atolls – Wallis, Alofi and Futuna. Although geographically the definition is not quite right. The islands are separated by an impressive 230 kilometers, they have never been historically or physically tied to each other. Despite this, geographers divide the area into two groups:

  • Wallis – one main island with the capital of Mata Utu, lagoons and a dozen coral atolls.
  • Horn is the islands of Futuna and Alofi. Futuna is divided into two parts, Sigave with a pier and Alofi with an airport.

All of the islands are of volcanic origin. Wallis Island originated in the Cenozoic era (66 million years ago), the atolls in the lagoon are very young – 300,000 years. The area is low-lying, the highest point is Mountain Lulu Fakahega height of 151 meters. Futuna is more mountainous. The top of Puke (524 meters) gradually descends to the ocean, forming a complex and picturesque relief.

The climate of the islands is tropical, humid, without a dramatic change of seasons. The temperature is constant throughout the year, varying between 25-32°C, monthly rainfall ranges from 150 to 400 mm. The cool period with moderate trade winds lasts from May to September. From October to April, the islands experience hot weather with frequent rainfall.

FW/M0JHQ Ono, Futuna Island, Wallis and Futuna. DX News.

Ono, Futuna Island, Wallis and Futuna. Photo by Christian Noemuller.

History of the islands

Wallis (Uvea) and Futuna were settled 3,400 years ago by peoples of the Lapita civilization. From the 15th century, the Wallis were inhabited by the Tonga people, who established a hierarchy of “chiefdoms” that is still in force today. Europeans visited the islands in 1616. Dutch sailors were able to miraculously traverse the coral reef and reach Futuna. In 1767, Samuel Wallis reached the island of Uvea and gave it his name. The first Westerners to settle permanently on the islands were missionaries. From 1837 they were engaged in the evangelization of the native population. In 1842 Wallis converted entirely to the Catholic faith. Futuna joined Christianity in 1846.

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In 1888 a treaty of protectorate with France was signed. Despite this, Wallis and Futuna were never colonies. From 1942 to 1946, the U.S. Army occupied Wallis and contributed significantly to infrastructure development. Roads, marinas, and airports are still in use today. In 1959 a referendum approved the annexation of the Wallis and Futuna Islands to France. The decision took legal effect in 1961.

The universe of the Wallis and Futuna Islands

The islands are, in every respect, a unique place on the planet. Untouched by the tourist industry, the archipelago has managed to preserve pristine nature and unique Polynesian culture. Single travelers are greeted with smiles, hospitality and flower necklaces. The rich history of the islands (ties with Tonga and Samoa, evangelization, American occupation, incorporation into France) has been carefully preserved in the architecture and cultural traditions.

Natural attractions on the islands are represented by crater lakes, in particular one of the largest in the Pacific Ocean – Lalolalo and the beautiful Wallis lagoons, with 13 uninhabited paradise atolls. In just ten minutes you can reach pristine beaches, turquoise waters and a magnificent coral reef – a true dream of every diver. Mount Pouquet makes a powerful impression, thanks to its picturesque landscapes, diverse flora and fauna.

Archaeological and historical sites on the islands are represented by the magnificent legacy of the Lapita civilization, the Tongo people and the developed infrastructure of the Americans. Tourists primarily visit:

  • The cannibal oven on Futuna;
  • Loca Cave on Alofi;
  • Poi Basilica, the site of the assassination of Oceania’s only saint, Pierre Chanel;
  • Mata Uta Cathedral, made of volcanic stone;
  • St. Joseph’s Church;
  • the fortress city of Talietumu.

The islands’ many churches are well-groomed, decorated with flowers, and always crowded, as much as possible with a population of 11,000. The original traditions and customs make you fall in love forever with the lost world. It is here that you can witness and participate in the Katoaga ceremony, a half secular, half religious event that involves drinking the famous cava. Watch the work of artisans whose art has been carefully preserved for centuries and, of course, try the national cuisine, based on coconut milk, seafood and pork.

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FW/M0JHQ Wallis Island, Wallis and Futuna Tourist Attractions

Wallis Island, Wallis and Futuna. Photo by Jerome Fleuriet.

Curious Facts

Tourism on the islands is completely undeveloped. There are only four hotels, each with 26 rooms. Restaurants are proudly called roadside eateries, and there is no public transportation. Cabs on the islands did not take root because the locals are categorically unwilling to pay the fare, and tourists are so few that they do not cover the cost of maintaining cars.

The French authorities have intensively promoted the settlement of the island. One of the social measures offered as part of the demographic program is an increased salary. Teachers, doctors, researchers, civil servants who want to work in Paradise can count on a salary that is 2-3 times higher than on the mainland.

It is very difficult to get to the islands. And it’s not even the distance, but the lack of developed transport infrastructure. For example, planes to Fiji depart from the local airport only once a week. And there is a high probability that the flight will be cancelled because of cloudy weather.

Wallis and Futuna are extremely interesting for active travelers who are not afraid of the difficult road, long distances and the possibility of being stuck on the island for an indefinite time. Instead, you can enjoy the pristine lagoons, crater lakes and quaint landscapes to the fullest. One can only wish you a happy exploration of unspoiled lands while the opportunity exists.

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