Our last night in Vava’u, Tonga was spent at Fonua’one’one, a small island on the southern edge of the group. The island has everything you’d expect of a slice of South Pacific paradise. A beautiful reef with abundant coral protecting a picture perfect white sand beach, with the fine kind of sand that seems to massage and form to your feet as you walk.
With the reef guarding the beach the perfectly still crystal clear water looks more like a swimming pool at an exotic resort than the Pacific Ocean. Blues stretch as far as you can see, getting darker as you look away from shore and the water gets progressively deeper. The interior of the island is heavily wooded with coconut trees, fruit trees, and large ferns. Hundreds of birds cling to every available branch.
Brady and I walked the beach encircling the tiny island. It took all of 15 minutes before we rounded the corner and saw Delos bobbing at anchor all by herself. No other boats in sight. Just us.
For a few minutes we entertained the idea of living on an island like this. Clearing a small area for a raised hut in the middle, diving on the reef for food, and catching rainwater to drink. Fun to think about but we decided that either the bugs or monotony would eventually get to us. We’ll stick to our floating home for now.
We’ve spent the last 42 days in Vava’u exploring places just like Fonua’one’one. It was with mixed emotions that we pulled up our anchor at 4:30AM and headed Delos South, towards the Ha’apai group some 65 miles away. Mixed emotions because up until a few weeks ago we were sure Vava’u was going to be our home for the next 6 months while we waited out the cyclone season. But with cruising plans change, and they can change quickly. With Delos needing some TLC, at least one crew member seeking employment, and all of us craving the niceties of a first world country (and some cooler weather) we scrapped our plans and decided to head to New Zealand.
Tonga is an incredible place. It was captain cook that coined the term “The Friendly Islands” after his experience with the natives so long ago. Tonga reminds us a lot of our home cruising grounds in Puget Sound, particularly the San Juan islands. There are dozens and dozens of protected anchorages within a few hours sail. The outer reefs take the brunt of the ocean swell leaving the interior water calm except for wind chop. If you could combine the protected anchorages of the San Juans with crystal clear tropical water, then add white sand beaches, tropical fruit, and sunshine you’d get pretty close.
During our time here we partied it up in Neiafu and took it easy on secluded islands. We raced in regattas and drifted aimlessly in our floaties. We drank kava with the locals and rum with the cruisers. We dove on ship wrecks and snorkeled caves. We had plenty of beach bonfires and endless clear, star filled nights. Time slipped away from us until all of a sudden it was time to move on, yet again.
The pictures and this blog hardly do Vava’u justice, but hopefully they give you just a little glimpse of the Friendly Islands.
Swimming in Mariners cave