We left Bora Bora and French Polynesia at the end of September and sailed west. Because we were already late in the season we decide  to not stop in Cook Islands or Nuie, instead head straight for Tonga. The weather was variable, a few days of perfect 15 knot downwind to dead calm, then changing to 25 knots wind on the nose. The already repaired wiskerpole broke again and it didn’t come as a suprise. In Tahiti, I had bought a used spare wiskerpole, but a little to short. Now I had to extend it with what was left from the old one by pop-riveting it together. The sailing took 14 days. We arrived in Tonga’s Vava’u group and checked in to Neiafu which is the capital there. We gained one hour in time but lost one day because we had passed the dateline. Tonga’s motto is: ”where the time begins”.

Tonga is a kingdom of 170 islands and they are devided into three main groups; Vava’u group in the north, Haapai group in the central and Tongatapu group in the south. The main capital is Nuku’alofa on Tongatapu. It’s easy to see it’s much more poor then French polynesia. Boats and buildings are old and well used. In Neiafu we got more information about the customs and immigration rules to New zealand. A little bit suprising we realize that we have lots of food we can not bring into NZ, like dried beans, dreid fruit, lentils, seeds, grains etc. We had pretty much of all that because it takes less space than canfood. Luckely we could sell most of it to Lisa at the Tropicana Cafe’ and a couple other cruisers for a reduced price.

After 4 days in Neiafu we checked out and went out to explore the surrounding Islands in Vava’u. Coastlines of limestone cliffs are riddled with caves. Some you can paddle into and some you have to enter underwater. Lots of nice snorkeling as well. Some hikes on the islands gave us plenty of fruits; Mango, Papayas, Bananas and more. After a week, we continued further down to the Haapai group islands, 60 nm south.

In Pangai (the capital in Haapai group) we had to check in again… just to check out a couple days later, before continuing to the other islands, a wierd system the have in all Tonga groups. Not much to see in Pangai, but the small resturant ”Mariner’s cafe’ was a well visited place for cruisers. Misty’s old worn flag was hanged up on the wall among many other flags as a memory.

Next stop, Uoleva Island was a much nicer place and as usual we explored it by walk, paddle and fin. Along the beach we found a little resort well hidden among the trees. Patti, an ex american and ex cruiser, she and her friend Sammy run this little resort. Just small cabins in the bush, and only few meters from the beach, still hard to see from the waterfront.  If you want to escape to a small quiet paradise island in the Pacific for a while and don’t have a boat, this is the place to come to     ( ).

We contiued 25 nm SW to Hafeeva Island ( I sailed Misty and Ginni paddle/sailed her kayak). Great wreck in shallow waters in the bay for snorkeling. Went for a walk into the Hafeeva village, in hope of not being killed and eaten of inhabitans but insted trade some dried beans and seeds for fruit. We ran into Vilitony who turn out to be the minister for Haafeva and the surrounded islands. He invited us to his house where he also had banana and papaya trees. Funny to see locals on this primitive Island, walking around and talking in mobile phones. Still no internet yet.

From Haafeva we continued to Nomuka Island. A historical place where the well knowned  ”Mutiny on Bounty” happaned 1789. We also took shelter there for a strong northerly gale there with success. Nomuka have a freshwater lake on the Island, so we carried the kayaks about 50 meters thru the bush and explored the lake as well. The Island beside, Nomuka Iki was unhibated and had a fishingboat wreck on the beach. It suppose to be an old prison on the Island but we never found it. Instead we found lots of coconuts and papaya trees.

From here we sailed the remaining 55 nm down to Tongatapu. This is Tongas most southerly Island and our last stop before New zealand.

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