KINGDOM OF TONGA
Vava'u is a raised coral island, as is Tongatapu and consists of one large island and as many as 40 smaller islands. Tradition says that the mythical hero Maui who fished both islands from the sea, put a little more effort into Vava'u which is a big island rising 204 metres above sea level with a stunningly beautiful dramatic coastline. Approaching Vava'u by sea is a special experience as you weave through the maze-like scattered islands to the sheltered Port of Refuge.
Left: Lagoon. Right: Church, Vava'u.
Neiafu is the capital and is the second largest town in Tonga. It has limited accommodation and still resembles a late 19th century Pacific frontier town with limited one storey building, winding streets, limited motor traffic, and trade stores containing everything from canned mackerel, cotton piece goods to cane knives.
Market place, Vava'u
The road which snakes through the township of Neiafu has spectacular views of the harbour, with the Catholic mission occupying one of the most commanding locations in the township. From the centre of town you can walk in almost any direction to places of interest. To the south the road leads to a peninsula and the village of Toula. At the shore near Toula is a large cave which contains a fresh water pool. In the opposite direction from the town, you come to the village of Utulei and on up the hill to Talau, a flat-topped hill which dominates the western end of the harbour. Legend has it that Talau was once much taller, but its peak was stolen one night by a devil who intended to remove it to Samoa. He was intercepted by a Tongan devil who caused him to drop his prize in the bay. The stolen peak of Talau thus became tiny Lotuma Island.
Picnic day excursions and yacht charters are made to unspoiled castaway islands which often have magnificent shells. Diving tours to nearby ship wrecks and caves are popular because in the clear, crystalline water visibility extends to 30 metres.
This is Tongatapu's sister island eight minutes away by plane and three to four hours by boat. It's 87 square kilometres with the population of some 4,500 people descended from evacuees from Ata in the 19th century when that island was blundered for labour by Peruvian vessels. There are also descendants from Niuafo'ou which was evacuated following a volcano eruption.
No roads run around Eua, for it is quite rugged with tracks through the forests to the eastern coast which is lined by cliffs ranging from 33 to 133 metres in height dropping to caves and chasms gouged by strong wave action. There is only one guest house on Eua so visitors are advised to book accommodation well in advance.
This is the name given to the island and islets, reefs and shoals which make up the central group of Tonga's three major island groups. There are at least three dozen islands in this group, although populations are recorded on only seventeen of them. The majority of the islands are quite flat with white sandy beaches and fringing reefs. Lifuka and Foa are the two largest islands in the group with a population of 4,300 people between them and with very few tourists.
Within closed vicinity of Lifuka is tiny Nukunamo and Ha'ano to the north which contains four villages with a total population of 750. To the south is an uninhabited island Uoleva which contains mounds used by ancient chiefs for trapping pigeons.
On Uiha there are some interesting relics, including burial grounds of ancient royalty, and ancient monument.
SANDY BEACH RESORT
Located on Foa, an unspoiled island in the Ha'apai group where pods of dolphins and whales are regular visitors, Sandy Beach Resort is designed for nature lovers who enjoy life's little luxuries. Twelve large comfortable fales, open to the sea, are set amongst tropical foliage right on the beach. Each fale has a spacious verandah and large tiled rooms cooled by ceiling fans with imported rattan furnishings, built-in wardrobes, refrigerators, and coffee/tea making facilities.
ALIGNED WITH NATURE
Magnificent reefs lie within swimming distance and the tariff includes use of snorkelling equipment and Polynesian outrigger canoes. Sandy Beach Resort does not have outboard motors, jet-boats or anything that disturbs the environment or tranquillity. Also included are bicycles, guided bush walks and airport transfers. Other activities available include horseback riding, scuba diving, game fishing, and sea kayaking.
Enjoy incredible sunsets from the Resort's terrace to the sounds of classical music before adjourning to the fully licensed restaurant. Entertainment includes cultural shows and kava ceremonies, but there is no television, disco or nightclub and this is definitely not a resort to bring children.
Ha'apai has been nominated as a potential world heritage site and for those who truly appreciate nature, Sandy Beach Resort is like no other.
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SANDY BEACH RESORT
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