The Kingdom of Tonga
10 September 2008 | Neiafu, Tonga
We arrived in Tonga nearly 3 weeks ago, after a fairly uneventful 2 night passage. We left Niue on a Tuesday and arrived in Neiafu harbor on Friday, having given up a day to the international dateline.
The Kingdom of Tonga (yeah, that's right "Kingdom"- with a newly coronated king and everything) is comprised of four archipelagoes located just west of the International Dateline. There are 171 islands, of which only 36 are inhabited. The most northern group is the Niuas. 160 miles south of the Niuas is the Vava'u group (where we are now) then the Ha'apai group and finally the most southern group, the Tongatapu group.
Vava'u is a well-known cruising destination and for good reason. There are 60 islands in a roughly 18x16 nautical mile area. They say for every nautical mile you travel-in any direction- there are 4.8 picturesque islands. Impressive. Well, we've got nearly 2 months to test that theory. Although, given that we spent the first two weeks tucked snugly in Neiafu Harbor we may not get around to all of them.
Neiafu Harbor is about as well-protected a harbor as you can get. It is like a large lake, surrounded on all sides and protected from wind and waves: you get in via a winding passage between islands. The water is so flat in here that the boat may as well be on jack-stands for all the movement we feel aboard.
The town of Neiafu is basically the hub of activity and commerce in Vava'u. It is the administrative center of this island group so along with the check-in formalities you can also re-provision (limited) and take on water and fuel. There are several waterfront restaurants with good food and drink, at (finally!) reasonable prices.
In addition to being able to pig out at restaurants every day we also got to catch up with friends who had taken the northern route through the Cooks- friends we hadn't seen since Bora Bora.
One of the unexpected highlights of our stay in Neiafu has been the yacht races they have every Friday evening, hosted by the Vava'u Yacht Club. The first Friday we were there John trimmed the main aboard the boat Moonduster. It was a very exciting race and they came in third. We were still in Neiafu the following Friday and Wayne invited John to crew again aboard Moonduster. This time they came in second. We're definitely seeing a trend here and John is hooked so although we plan to finally get off our mooring ball and explore some of the outer anchorages we will definitely be back here Friday for another go on Moonduster.