Vava’u is an ISLAND paradise. Island means water and water means boat. To see Vava’u, you need a boat. RENT-A-BOAT offers you and (up to four people) the opportunity to see some of the best of what Vava’u is all about—Islands, reefs, white sandy beaches, caves, island resorts, native villages and sea life. With your own boat, or the next best thing to it, you can go when you want and stop where you please and see or do what interests you for as long as you care to.
HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO SEE with your RENT-A-BOAT (note location numbers)
After you take off from the main harbor, you have choices. To your right is a calm water and interesting harbor with an inlet under a bridge. Be careful beyond the bridge, as it gets shallow quickly. The return from there, along the Northern shore reveals some of the lifestyle of Tonga attached to the mainland. Back in the main channel, you will pass by the Tongan Beach Resort on your left, just past on the south side. Here you might stop over for a late breakfast or early lunch before moving along to destinations further out.
As you cruise along the shoreline, note the reef extends out into the water quite a ways. Take caution, the water color shows the depth and the bottom is clearly visible. The next stop might be Mala Island for great snorkeling. A resort was built here, but closed a year ago. The beach is white sand and the approach to the beach should be at high or near high tide with the motor cocked up half way. This is a private island, and always has welcomed visitors. Since it has been closed, no one has been there to advise otherwise. Don’t snoop around the grounds, keep with the beach.
After Mala, back to the North and on the left as you enter the area of the pass to the ocean (don’t go out there) you will find a couple large caves, on the end of the peninsula between (6) and (7). One of them is “Swallow’s Cave” and is large enough to take your boat into. Shut off the engine and use the paddles while inside. You will see many colors and genuine cave stalagmites and tites. Come back around in the late afternoon for a better light show as the sun casts a direct hit into the depths of the water within the cave. You may see castles and many fish in the depths below.
The next stop might be Port Maurelle (7). Many cruising boats anchor here. Go slow between boats and watch your wake. Cruisers are a friendly lot, but not when their beer spills after you have passed by, and they will never invite you aboard for a drink and a sea story after that. There is a beach at the end of the harbor and some views into the clear water near the west entrance.
Further down along the shoreline you will come across a jetty with some Tongan boats tied up (8). Here is a village that might be worth exploring. There aren’t any stores, but things are much like they were around here for many, many years. The natives are friendly. Sometimes a basket or Tapa can be bought here reasonable.
The all time winner beach is NUKU. You will find this deep, soft and bright white sand beach just across from the village. You probably will do the beach first and the village next, that is if the beach and this island doesn’t take the rest of your day. Snorkeling is good over the reefs of Nuku.
From NUKU you have to enter potentially rough water to go much further. The sea is quite open with long fetches for waves to build in an afternoon blow. From here a trip around the island in calm seas is fun or back past Port Maurelle is calmer. Stop by the Cave again for the afternoon show and head for the Tongan Beach Resort for the last chance for food and drink out of the main harbor of Neiafu.
The Vanilla Tour
The Vanilla tour will take you through some of the very best agricultural areas of Vava’u and though villages of historic significance.
Vanilla is grown in this area (there are some 500 hectares of vanilla in Vava’u) along with kava, taro, yams and lots of squash.
The view form the Neiafu Lookout never fails to take one’s breath away! From this vantage point is a perfect view of the world famous Port of Refuge harbor and of Neiafu, the main township of Vava’u, along with the eastern outer islands.
Directions: Upon reaching the top of Mt. Talau, follow the trail east (to the right) to the Neiafu Lookout. Several young Ahi (Sandalwood) trees can be found growing along this portion of the trail.
The Vaipua Lookout looks northeast, over the Vaipua Inlet and the Vaipua causeway. The bridge portion of the Vaipua Causeway is the only bridge found in the predominantly flat and river less Kingdom of Tonga. Exposed coral rock lies along this trail, the result of periods of plate tectonic uplift, which are responsible for unique terraced shape of the hills and islands of Vava’u, including Mt. Talau.
This lookout provides a view of the western side of ‘Uta Vava’u, including the village of Vaimalo and Mo’ungalafa, the highest point of Vava’u.
The access path to the ‘Alo-‘I-Talau (literally “birth of Talau”) lookout is downhill off of the circular track and leads towards a small rock outcropping. Climb up the rock outcropping to see the dramatic westward view beyond the entrance to the Port of Refuge. Spectacular sunsets may be seen from this lookout during the summer months. The small round island, Lotuma, which is the fabled top of Mt. Talau, can also be seen from here.
Welcome to Mt. Talau National park
The islands of Vava’u were once covered with lush tropical forest, which provided food, medicine, fuel wood, and building materials for the people of Tonga and habitat for a variety of wildlife. Today, most of the forest has been cleared to meet the demand for agricultural land. Mt. Talau National Park was established in 1995 to protect and preserve one of the few remaining areas of relatively undisturbed native forest still found in Tonga.
Mt. Talau National Park is located on the tip of a raised limestone peninsula on ‘Uta Vava’u, the main island of Vava’u. Overlooking the entrance to the Port of Refuge, the Park offers breath taking views of the Vava’u archipelago and its fringing coral reefs. The flora of Mt. Talau includes many culturally significant plants and several species of trees that are considered rare and endangered in Tonga. Most of the birds and reptiles native to Tonga can be found on Mt. Talau. As the topic of songs and legends, Mt. Talau is an important part of the cultural history of Tonga.
Mt. Talau is easily accessible. The trailhead to the Park is located approximately 2 km from the town center of Neiafu. The self-guided trail is approximately 1km in length and can be completed in an hour.
The forest of Mt. Talau. If you look up into the forest canopy, you will likely see a network of vines formed by the Valai (Waterline). The large brown seeds of this plant grow in a huge bean-like pod. These seeds are called Lafo, and they ate traditionally made into noisy anklets and bracelets to be worn by men during the energetic traditional dancers such as the Kailau and the lakalaka. This plant is also known as the Pa’anga (Money plant) because early missionaries thought that the coin shaped seeds were used as currency.