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Sailing Tonga’s Vava’u Islands

Listed under Sailing in Tonga.

  • Photo of Sailing Tonga’s Vava’u Islands
  • Photo of Sailing Tonga’s Vava’u Islands
  • Photo of Sailing Tonga’s Vava’u Islands
  • Photo of Sailing Tonga’s Vava’u Islands
  • Photo of Sailing Tonga’s Vava’u Islands
  • Photo of Sailing Tonga’s Vava’u Islands
  • Photo of Sailing Tonga’s Vava’u Islands
  • Photo of Sailing Tonga’s Vava’u Islands
Photo of Sailing Tonga’s Vava’u Islands
Photo by flickr user clr_flickr
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Tonga’s northern Vava’u island group is a perfect sailing playground. Deep channels separate the islands which have coastlines of unexpected bays and nestled inlets as well as generous beaches. There are about 50 islands in the group, split off from the rest of the Tongan islands by a line of reef which stretches its fingers between some of the nearer islands as well. These are lagoon islands, with softly fanning palm fronds and the like. Most of the islands are uninhabited but the ones that are have bars and cafes running right onto the sand, perfect for meandering sailors, this is really the life, a sunset and a 50p cocktail on the beach.

The sailing hub is on Neiafu on the pretty port of Refuge. Most of the coast of Neiafu is limestone cliff and there aren’t many beaches so a good port can be harder to find than else where. The beaches on adjacent Pangaimotu are much more the thing, pale sand and palm trees. Euakafa and Port Maurelle are other popular spots to drop anchor, but the islands are fairly close together. Mariners Cave and Swallows cave should be on your ‘to visit’ list as well, they’re popular for a reason, the snorkeling is incredible. It feels like not much planning is required for a successful sailing adventure round these isles, each island has its appeal and there was harmony on board our boat for once, with the whole family happy with my choices of port – they thought it was careful planning but actually all the islands of this group seems to be fairly equally idyllic.

Generally speaking the more southern islands are flatter coral atolls with expanding aprons of reef with are spectacular but you really need to keep an eye out for them, but the snorkeling potential is fantastic.

Best time for Tonga is between May and October, what the locals call the winter sailing season. It’s also when the humpbacks come in to calve.

Written by  Kenneth Hope.

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