Monday, May 30, 2016

Happy in Ha'apai

The three main parts of Tonga are:

Tongatapu. The main island, with the capital Nuku'alofa in the south.
Ha'apai, in the middle.
Vava'u, in the north.

We started in the south, and are wending our way north.

Ha'apai is remote and relatively primitive, but beautiful, and navigationally challenging.

This is a panorama of photos from a drone. From the left; Foa,  Nukunamo and Ha'ano islands in northern Ha'apai. We stayed a few days anchored off Nukunamo Island, and met the people who run the Matafonua resort. This photo was taken by Darren Rice, one of the owners of the resort.

Darren has also made some amazing videos of whales, using underwater cameras and drones.

More videos here.

A breaking wave at sunset outside our lagoon anchorage at Kelefesia Island, the southernmost of the Ha'apai group. It involved a 4 am start from Pangaimotu in order to negotiate the coral with good light.

Snorkelling over a bommie

Our next stop north was Nomuka Iki. It is paired with the bigger Nomuka Island, with better weather coverage between the two. One problem with Ha'apai is that most of the anchorages offer limited protection if a front comes through and the wind comes from the west.

Who lives in here?

Two white-tailed tropic bird chicks

Approaching rain-squall

Kids on Nomuka

School-boys dressed in tupenos

Leaving Nomuka at dawn, skirting outside the reef.

Would it be OK if I had a feed like the other piglets? Ha'afeva Island.

We signed up for a 'cultural experience' on Ha'ano Island. The women's groups arranged it to raise money for various good causes. It was an alternative to most money raising exercises benefitting the plethora of churches. Above is a horse and cart experience. Metal wheels, no springs and a rutted road made walking attractive!

Dancers at the cultural event on Ha'ano Island

After a night crossing from Ha'apai we arrived at the spectacular Vava'u group. This is tourism central, with whale-watching and diving with whales, as well as a significant charter fleet.

Inside the Swallows Cave, Vava'u

See the bait fish in the very clear water, lit up by the late afternoon sun. 

Nimrod in the middle distance in Neiafu Harbour, Vava'u.

Checking in with customs turns into a medical consultation. Dr George advises weight loss might help a leg ulcer. See his skirt (tupeno) and ta'ovala (floor mat worn around waist).

More schoolboys in tupenos, Neiafu.


  1. Well Giday Dave&George - what a great surprise to find you and Nimrod in the Kingdom of Tonga. Inspirational idea to have Royce deliver Nimrod and test the systems. I visited the kingdom back in the '70s for about 3 months, spending most of the time in Ha'api. Lovely to see your photos of the region, especially Nomuka where we stay a couple of weeks. I remember night spear fishing with our host - scariest thing I have ever done! Have a ball in Vavau - never got there but it sounds like dream cruising. N'joy!

  2. Wonderful! Lovely to know you are there and Nimrod is taking you to some divine places. Love to you both as always xxx