The Kingdom of Tonga, Captain James Cook's 'Friendly Islands', is made of up three main island groups. The most northerly is the Vava'u Group, a favored boat charter destination yet a place where there's so much room you may well image yourself on the quintessential desert island. Sailing your charter yacht through the Vava'u charter cruising grounds is a pure delight. From Neiafu harbour, sail out into the blue Pacific into island-studded waters that contain more than 50 protected anchorages.
Step back in time and encounter another world. Your search for peace and tranquillity ends here. Charter a yacht in Tonga's Vava'u Group, to discover remote idyllic islands, beautiful lagoons, colourful reefs and mile upon mile of deserted white sand beaches fringed with gently rustling palm trees.
The blue Pacific waters are warm and clear, with almost unlimited visiblity that makes snorkelling amongst the colourful sea life a dream. Scuba lovers can experience reef, cave and wreck diving at a number of excellent sites. And when your day of fun and nature appreciation is done, come ashore where the people are friendly and ready to share their culture and uniquely Pacific way of life.
The Vava'u charter sailing area is compact with numerous options for short-stay and overnight anchorages. So there's plenty of flexibility, and you can largely go to wherever the breeze and the mood takes you. As a guide only, and for some further information on places you may like to visit, here's a sample 10-day itinerary for a bareboat charter in Tonga.
Explore the islands of the Vava'u Group at your own pace, as one relaxed day flows into another.
Restricted sailing zones
Information on these is covered in the chart briefing. Charterers are asked to stay away from the exposed windward (eastern) side of the island Group. The area of charter comprises the islands of Vava'u Group.
Facilities at the charter base marina in Neiafu include a provisioning service, fuel, ice, laundry, boutique, restaurant, shower, café and bar. There are no shops or stores on any of the outer islands, but some do have small restaurants.
From this central location you can cruise to no less than forty recognised anchorages, many of them within two hours' sailing. Don't miss the Swallows Cave on the island's northwest tip. It is a spectacular sight that is similar to the Blue Grotto in Capri. Port Maurelle on Kapa is the spot where the Spanish explorer Maurelle,who in 1781 was the first European to see Vava'u, anchored his ship. It is a lovely and protected natural anchorage.
Nuapapu, Hunga and Vaka'eitu
To the west are the islands of Nuapapu, Hunga and Vaka'eitu. Hunga's huge lagoon, formed by the crater of an extinct volcano, can only be reached through a 200ft-wide pass. Here a traditional Tongan village shares the shoreline with the 'Island Style' Club Hunga Resort. Further along, on the western coast of Nuapapu is the fascinating Mariner's Cave, an underwater cavern which good swimmers will be able to visit. At Vaka'eitu you will find a safe overnight anchorage.
Mananita is surrounded by reefs that provide some of the best snorkelling in the area. Careful navigation through the reefs will be rewarded by the discovery of perfect white, powdery sand beaches. A stroll inland will take you into a luxuriant natural temple filled with the brilliant green light provided by the large-leafed puko trees.
Kenutu is an idyllic lagoon perfect for an overnight stay, with an attractive beach, excellent diving for experienced divers on the reef and a walk on the exposed ocean side to see the caverns and blowholes.
A delightful small island surrounded by a sandy beach, Mounu is the idyllic South Pacific island. There is a small resort on the western end of the island. Call ahead on the VHF and make your reservation for a gourmet meal.
A tiny island with a cosy anchorage alongside an idyllic sandspit, Nuku is possibly the most photographed island in the Kingdom of Tonga. A perfect place for a day stop. Safe swimming and snorkelling allow beginners to gain their confidence. Nuku becomes a favourite with all who visit Vava'u.
Between Nuku and Port Maurelle, A'a provides some amazing snorkelling and diving, particularly along the western shoreline. The mid afternoon sun highlights the natural colours of the coral and fish life, with the depth dropping away to around 200 feet.