"Smiling People - Happy Pigs - Splendid Views" Vava`u by Kakapo2

Vava`u Travel Guide: 5 reviews and 32 photos

Tips and plenty of photos coming up soon!

This little island paradise had a very authentic feeling, with friendly people giving us big smiles, children waving, calling "Hello" and "Bye-bye". Pigs, especially pig mothers with lots of piglets in all colours, and dogs were wandering the streets.

Although Vava'u is not totally off the beaten path, and the people are well aware of the natural beauty of their island(s), trying to get their share of the tourism market. You do not exactly feel like a pioneer exploring a new world, but you feel welcome, and imagine how nice it would be to come back.

Vava’u is the name of a group of Tongan islands 275 kilometres north of the capital Nuku’alofa on the island of Tongatapu, and it is also the name of the main island of the Vava’u Group which we visited. We got off our cruise ship by tender, and went ashore in Neiafu.

Although Vava’u is famous for its wonderful beaches and waters, we opted for walking as much as we could, first to get a great view from Mt. Talau, the highest mountain, second to get in touch with the locals. Both was very successful. Still we had wished to have a second day, so we could have relaxed on one of the beaches and explore the labyrith of islands that dot the southern part of the Vava’u Group.

Vava’u consists of 34 islands, covered in dense bush, of which only 13 are inhabited. If you travel by ship, you approach the Port of Refuge through a fiord-like 13 kilometre long channel, passing many of the small islands. Ships and boats find well sheltered mooring places, which explains why the islands are well loved by yachties. Most tourists who opt for exploring the islands by boat and go snorkeling or diving, will also visit some of the limestone caves you can reach from the water only.

Vava’u was discovered in 1781 by Captain Mourelle by coincidence when he travelled on his Spanish ship from Manila to Mexico. He named the port of Neiafu “Puerto de Refugio”, now “spanglished” into Port of Refuge.

You find a lot of vanilla plantations on the island(s). The northern part of Vava’u is rocky, with high cliffs. The southern part is made up of this plethora of tiny islands spat into the sea.

We found the lush tropical vegetation and the slow pace of life very appealing. The cemeteries were hugely interesting. Most cemeteries in Tonga are made up of sandpit-like graves, decorated with little flags. You also see churches of many denominations all over the place. Religion and the churches dictate the Tongans’ lives, prohibiting any work on Sunday. Even the airports and shipping docks are closed. That is why we could not land in Nuku’alofa – which was a real disappointment, as we had hoped to visit Sunday mass at the church the royal family normally goes to.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Friendly people, slow pace of life, beautiful nature
  • Cons:We could not find anything negative apart from one growling dog...
  • In a nutshell:A Place to Go back to for a relaxing Beach Holiday
  • Last visit to Vava`u: Jun 2009
  • Intro Updated Jul 6, 2009
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