July 21, 2013
Pangai, Lifuka Island, Tonga
Our next stop saw us anchored off a little sand spit joining Uonukuhihifo Island and Uonukuhahake Island (A prize for anyone who can pronounce either correctly!). At last: the stereotypical deserted tropical island. And we had not one, but TWO of them to ourselves! That’s not an easy scenario to come by, these days. Palm trees, white sand… perfect. We walked around the island – beautiful beach and thickly covered in coconut palms – and were very thankful we were anchored on the leeward side! From the boat we could see the huge surf pounding the reef just on the other side of the spit – in fact, it looked like the sea level was several metres higher on that side than our side!
From there, we went to Uoleva Island, and anchored off another postcard perfect, palm-fringed beach. When you’re actually on the beach, out of the wind, it really is gorgeous and with the sun out, it’s heaven!
One of the main reasons we’ve come to Tonga is that it is one of the few places in the world where you can actually swim with humpback whales – something I’ve been dying to do for years, and I had hoped that I might be able to make it coincide with my 50th, but that didn’t work out….But the whales are finally arriving and we’ve been seeing them spout and breach from a distance while we’ve been at anchor.
While we were at Uoleva, we had one of our handful of cracker weather days. Some yachtie friends, Jan and Trevor (old hands in these waters) invited us out on their boat for the day and we went in search of whales. We saw quite a few, some quite close to the boat, and including one guy who was slapping his tail and then slamming his pectoral fin on the water – amazing. We haven’t managed to actually swim with them yet, but hopefully that will happen soon. On that same day, we anchored off a tiny deserted island and went for a snorkel on the surrounding reef – beautiful corals in pristine condition, and incredible visibility. We hope to do a whole lot more of that, too, when this weather finally breaks!
So now we’re just waiting for a weather window to head north to Vava’u. It’s only a 60-70 mile run, but it’s over open ocean, with no protection from any fringing reefs or islands, and the seas have been up around five metres and the winds very strong (really don’t need more of that stuff, after our passage from NZ), so we have just been keeping our heads down, waiting.
The Vava’u Islands are much more substantial than the Ha’apais, in that they aren’t just coral atolls, and there are plenty of very well-protected anchorages, all close to one another (we’ve been travelling 20 miles between anchorages here). So the promise of calm nights and calm waters for diving and snorkelling is very appealing!
That’s about it for news for now. As you can imagine, our learning curve continues to be exponential, and it’s rarely a dull moment, but hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you fat, right? Despite the ‘challenges’, we’re having fun and expect to have a whole lot more before the season’s out!
PS: Click on Images in the menu bar at the top of the page to see our photo albums of the Ha’apais and of the Ha’afeva Kids.
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