Situated midway in the Pacific Ocean between Tahiti and Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga is comprised of 171 islands in four distinct groups: Tongatapu, Ha′apai, Vava′u, and Niuas. Nuku′alofa on the main island of Tongatapu is the capital of this constitutional monarchy. The jewels of the exotic cruising grounds of a Tonga boating charter are the hilly and wooded coral islands of Vava′u. Miles of white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and crystal clear waters make Tonga one of the world’s top snorkeling and scuba diving venues. Visibility is often 150 feet. The abundance of snug anchorages, more than 40 of them, combined with the close proximity of the islands to one another is very similar to cruising in the British Virgin Islands. The reefs assure calm waters while the trade winds assure excellent cruising virtually every day. It’s no surprise, then, that Vava′u is a boater's paradise, where the delights of a Tonga yacht charter inspire fond memories that last a lifetime.
Due to current regulations, Tonga charters may not start or end on a Sunday. Also, in observance of of King Tupou VI's birthday and the Crown Prince's birthday, the base will be closed on July 4th and 17th. If those dates fall on a Sunday, the holidays will be observed the following Monday. Regrettably, our base will be closed these two days and will not be open as a charter start or end day.
A Tonga boating vacation offers some of the easiest and best cruising in the South Pacific. Southeast trade winds average between 15 and 25 knots May through September and northeast trade winds average between 10 and 20 knots in the summer. Navigation is line-of-sight from one island to the next, though a watchful eye on the chart is necessary because of the numerous reefs. The tidal range is a bit over three feet. Tidal and wind-driven currents are typically weak except in narrow channels. A Tonga yacht charter is well within the reach of boaters who have basic skills in coastal navigation. The beauty and unique character of these exotic waters lures less experienced and veteran boaters alike to return time after time for more adventures. Year-round temperatures hover around 75°F (24°C)
Tonga's beauty is known throughout the world. The wooded and often hilly coral islands are fringed with pristine white-sand beaches ideal for snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing. Picturesque anchorages well protected from ocean swells are usually no more than a couple miles apart, but there's also clear water for South Pacific cruising at its best. The kingdom has a handful of resorts and restaurants on the islands as well as on Vavau in the main town of Neiafu. Among Tonga's principle attractions are its welcoming people, who cherish hospitality and engender a sincere desire to make visitors feel at home. Tonga has been nicknamed the Friendly Islands since 1773, when British captain James Cook used the term to describe the Tongans he met. The honorary title is still well deserved.
Pangiamotu’s beautiful Hinakauea Beach is a short distance from the main island of Vava′u and famous for its traditional Tongan feasts. One of the South Pacific’s most tantalizing events, a Tongan feast is like no other in the Polynesian islands. The preparations begin long before boaters arrive. Tropical fruits and vegetables, lobster, crabs, chicken, fish, beef, octopus, and other delicacies are gathered. Underground ovens are lined with glowing red coals, and the hot dishes are placed within them to cook slowly. Roasted pigs are turned on spits over open fires. Kava, a mildly intoxicating drink made from the Kava root, flows freely under the light of blazing torches. The food is served on polas, long trays made from plaited coconut fronds. After the feast, traditional Tongan singing and dancing lasts well into the evening.
On the western shore of Hunga Island, cliffs rise from an azure sea. Between them is a narrow opening about 80 feet wide, and beyond is Hunga Lagoon, a magnificent anchorage that’s more a tropical lake with sandy beaches. As the yacht swings gently at anchor, it’s hard to imagine a more beautiful location. Ashore is a quaint village that makes for a relaxing stroll, and dinner and cocktails at the Ika Lahi Game Fishing Lodge is a pleasant way to spend an evening. The snorkeling is good all around Hunga and nearby Foeata Island.
A heart-shaped opening in the rocky shore at the northwest tip of Kapa Island marks the entrance to a wondrous grotto well worth a visit. Inside are multi-colored stalactites made all the more beautiful as afternoon sunlight beams through a circular gap in the roof of the cave. Hundreds of swifts gather on stony perches, filling the air with song. Beneath the crystal clear water is a display of colorful coral. There is a dry section of the cave as well, which can be explored. Snorkeling in the cave is superb due to the excellent visibility.
The waters of Tonga, especially those of the outer islands surrounding Vava′u, are home to one of the sea’s most intriguing creatures, the humpback whale. These baleen whales can grow to 50 feet in length on a steady diet of krill, plankton, and small fish, weighing in at more than 45 tons. Known for their musical calls, the humpbacks arrive in Tonga from Antarctica starting in July to breed and raise their young. They remain until November, when they return to colder climates. According to scientific studies, about 450 humpbacks choose Vava′u as a breeding ground every year, making them a common sight. Eco-tour operators run snorkeling trips off islands like Foeata and Hunga so people can swim with the whales, an inspiring, fascinating, and unforgettable experience.
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