Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna is an oversea autonomous French territory. It includes the Wallis Island and the Futuna Island. The country is washed by the waters of the Pacific Ocean. The capital city is Mata’utu which is located on the Wallis Island.
The climate on the islands is tropical with frequent trade winds. The temperature does not change significantly during the year and usually it is +25℃ - +28℃. There are no dry or wet seasons, but form November to April, tropical cyclones can occur.
The official language is French. But people also speak Wallisian and Futunan. Virtually all the population is the Catholics (99%).
Wallis and Futuna attract the travellers who prefer privacy and solitude. Coral reefs, which surround the islands make this place ideal for diving. There are nice sandy beaches. If you get bored of being on the beach you can play golf or go fishing. The Wallis Island is surrounded by many smaller islands with very good beaches.
The lovers of the monuments of ancient civilizations will want to see the signs of the first settlements dated 1.400 years B.C. There are hiking routes to the lake.
The uninhabited Alofi Island has secluded beaches and hiking routes. Alofi, surrounded by tropical trees, attracts the tourists with its sandy beaches. The lovers of snorkelling should go to the island lagoon.
People on Futuna can show local rituals to the tourists.
People from Europe have to take a transit flight with transfers to get to Wallis and Futuna as there are no direct flights. Air Caledonie offers flights to the island. All the planes arrive at the international airport on the Wallis Island. The tourists can take a flight from Noumea and Nadi three times a week. There are everyday flights from the airport in Wallis to the Futuna Island.
One can get to Wallis and Futuna by cruise ship which runs between Pago Pago and Fiji. This is a convenient way of travelling. The tourists can also travel to the islands by their own or rented yacht.
The citizens of the EU can travel to Wallis and Futuna and stay there for 90 days visa-free. CIS citizens must obtain a visa at the Embassy of France or in a visa center. Those who have a multiple-entry Schengen visa can travel to the islands visa-free.
The documents for a visa must be submitted personally.
It usually takes from 10 to 20 working days to get a visa.
The tourists can import foreign and national currency without restrictions. The sum exceeding 7.622 Euros must be declared. The export of national and foreign currency is limited to the sum indicated on the declaration form.
The tourists can bring in the following things duty-free:
- some alcohol and tobacco;
- some tea and coffee;
- perfume for personal use;
- personal belongings.
It is prohibited to import:
- fake pearls;
- plants, fruits, and seeds.
The baggage that arrives from Fiji and Samoa is subject to disinfection.
If the tourists want to bring from Wallis and Futuna things with historical or artistic value, they need to obtain a special permit.
The cuisine of Wallis and Futuna combines French and local cooking traditions. The staple food is seafood. The tourists will have a great choice of seafood dishes.
The foodies should try a savoury pork dish with ginger and coconut or bananas stuffed with meat. The local people prefer to roast a whole pig in the ground oven umu. Do not miss a chance to try chicken wrapped in banana leaves or chicken stew with ginger and taro roots.
On the islands you will be served French cream soups, fish or turtle soups.
Staying on the islands, try Barramundi, fish stewed with coconut water.
Those who have a sweet tooth can treat themselves to fruit cakes and desserts from exotic fruits. A very unusual dessert is Kumala from sweet potatoes, onion and ginger.
The most popular non-alcoholic drink among the locals is tea.
People on the islands do not make alcoholic beverages. On the islands, the tourists can try a local drink Kava, which is considered to be alcoholic though, actually, it is not so.
The official currency is French Pacific Franc (CFP) which is equal to 100 centimes. In circulation are the banknotes from 500 to 10.000 francs and coins from 1 to 100 francs and 5, 10, 20, 50 centimes.
In Wallis and Futuna, you can exchange the currency at banks. Euros can be exchanged in exchange offices and hotels. Some large souvenir shops accept US dollars.
Credit cards are accepted only in large stores.
One can cash traveller’s checks at banks.
There is just one ATM on the Wallis Island.
There is one tax-free shop and if you spend 1.850 CFP you can refund the VAT. It is necessary to provide a sales receipt to a Customs officer when you leave the country.
Details of interest
Wallis and Futuna are not only a place with exotic nature, but also a country with rich cultural and historic heritage.
- The Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption de Mata Utu is situated in the capital city. This building is considered to be the centre of the city. Inside you will see the throne of the kings who still carry this title and these people are heads of the local self-government.
- Talietumu is an archaeological site with the settlement of the Aborigines which refers to the period when the island was seized by the Tonga people. If you like the monuments of ancient civilisations, this is a must-see place for you.
- Saint Joseph Church is situated in a picturesque place on the sea shore. It is known for its unusual iconostasis depicting not only the biblical subjects, but also the scenes from the traditional everyday life of the Aborigines.
- The Sacred Heart Church resembles a lighthouse.
- The Lalolalo volcanic lake is 80 metres deep. The area around the lake is not officially acknowledged a national park, but it has an unofficial status of the reserve. The tourists will enjoy the landscape as well as very rich fauna and flora.
- Saint Pierre Church on the Futuna Island was named after the first and the most outstanding missioner who visited the islands.
- A small island Alofi is virtually uninhabited. This is a destination for those who love to spend the time on a beach and the fans of snorkelling. There are also hiking routes to the caves which were formed by the tides. The most famous is the Loka cave with the Grotto of Saint Bernadette.
- From the Lulu Fakehaga Mountain you will see a wonderful view on the island.
Wallis and Futuna Souvenirs
The tourists usually buy local crafts:
- painted mats made of the local plants leaves;
- tapa — local textile treated with essential oils;
- various wooden souvenirs.