The Vava’u group is the most popular island group in Tonga. It is remote and unspoiled, the waters are crystal clear and have uninhabited islands speckled throughout. Matt and I could not decide if the Vava’u group reminded us more of the Marquesas in French Polynesia or the Bay of Islands in the Lao group of Fiji. Either way, they are gorgeous.
The downfall is the large number of boats that are here! We had grown accustomed to being the only boat in the anchorage and now, our first anchroage, we share it with 8 other boats! Small price to pay for a tropical island paradise.
The Vava’u group is made up of one main island (Ut’ Vava’u) and 50 smaller islands. The god Maui reached into the sea and pulled up the islands of Vava’u.
Port Maurelle (Anchorage #7)
Our first anchorage is Port Maurelle, also known as anchorage #7. All of the anchroages in Vava’u have numbers. Even though it is called a “Port Maurelle” there is no actual port. Just a beautiful, small, white sandy beach in a small, well protected bay.
Our plan is to only stay the night and then head to the main island to clear in and hide from the big nasty storm thats coming in a few days. But, we hope to come back here to explore more so stay tuned.
Funny thing…there were a total of 12 boats that ended up anchoring here for the night. For the first time, in a long time, we were anchored with 4 other American boats and one of those boats was from Austin, TX! We did not have a chance to talk to them but we will find them again.
There were many rock star boats: Zepplin, Rhapsody, Rolling Stones, Sally, and Pantera! How funny is that?
Neaifu – the Main Town
The main town in Vava’u is Neaifu which is where we check in and clear out. They have the most services and facilities based in this area. The anchorage is very protected and two companies offer moorings for $20TOP per night. It is here that we run into a lot of cruisers that we’ve met along the way!
St. Joseph Cathedral is one of the top 10 churches in the Pacific and it is a work of art! There are lots of dogs and pigs roaming around freely. They are skittish, but truly funny to run into as you are shopping. Neaifu has a pretty decent fresh produce market that is open daily and behind them is a large craft market.
Are We Famous?
We were meeting cruiser friends for dinner (Brian and Sue on Sea Rose whome we met in French Polynesia). Our table of 4 quickly expanded to a table for 15 during happy hour. A young couple who sat next to us delightfully screamed “you’re famous” when they met us and learned we were from “Sugar Shack.” Well now that was funny. Yes, we do a lot, but I certainly would not say we are famous. What do we do??
I ran the Poly Mag Net which is the nightly SSB net in French Polynesia for 2.5 years, updated and included a lot of updates on the 4 FP compendiums and Fiji Compendium (I am currently doing the same thing for the Tonga compendium), and am very active in the cruiser WhatsApp groups and Facebook groups. But she also mentioned something else…
She said, you were quoted in the new Whangarei Marine Brochure. I said, “what?” She said in Cafe Tropicana (which is the cruiser hub in Tonga) there are tons of these new Whangarei Marine books and there is a full page with your quote. Well, that is new. I had to investigate and guess what she is right! This is with me and Greg Just who owns Cafe Tropicana and is the port officer. I think it would have been cooler if Sugar Shack were one of the boats in the photo but I can’t micr-manage everything 🙂
There are some amazing carvers in Tonga. They carve pearl shells, wood of all types and bone of all types (including whale, turtle, cow). I did not take photos of everything because there is just so much and it is hard to pick. But here are some of my favoriet pearl shell carvings and yes, I purchased the whale tail in the large photo.
Sugar Shack Custom Designed Items
There is this fabulous place called Coffee and Tees in Neaifu that is run by Cindy. She is incredibly helpful, kind, and eager to please. She worked with me for a few hours to design our special Sugar Shack shirts, shopping bags, and backpacks! We sent her our logo and we had everything completed the same day!
Cindy is the blonde and Isa is the brunnette. The images below are our very own screen prints with our Sugar Shack logo!
The shirts have a design on the front and back. Matt and I both like understated on the front and the big design on the back.
And some new shopping bags…front and back
Ovaka & Avalau
We dropped the hook at anchorage 39 next to two small islands called Ovaka and Avalau. Wehn we arrived there were only 3 boats but by the end of the day there were 9 of us. So many boats.
We took Sweetie to shore and explored the beautiful beaches of both islands. We were pleasantly surprised to discover a trail that led from the beach to the village. There ae 15 people, 200 pigs, dozens of stray dogs, 2 goats, a few chickens and 2 churches.
They have a lot of solar here which is very cool. They have solar at many houses and the lights are solar powered.
One of the churches, the church drum, a very damaged pier and some fishermen.
Avalau is a small uninhabited island. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty.
Limestone cliffs, towering palm trees, and soft sandy beaches.
Then this little motu with beautiful birds living onboard – even a boobie.
We had some beautiful sunsets in Vava’u.
This blog occured in early August. Our blog posts run 8-10 weeks behind actual live events. In our last blog, we weather the storm at Foa in Ha’apai.