Tonga - Vavau
We are spending a few days out and about as there is not enough wind forecast to take us to Fiji. We are hoping to go to NZ from there, but definitely need more wind and may have to go via the southern Tonga islands.
Port Maurelle was a perfect stop for visiting two caves. One, incredibly beautiful cave (shame about the local graffiti) which you can enter in your tender with hundreds of swifts nesting inside is, nevertheless called Swallow's Cave.
The other is Mariner's Cave, which you can only enter by snorkelling under a lip of rock which descends about 1-2m under water, depending on tide and between 10-14 feet horizontally.
The pressure changes as waves swell into the cave cause your ears to pop and mist to appear and disappear. Caroline forgot and thought her mask had steamed up, removed it to clear and remembered when her eyes steamed up. A really bizarre experience that many find daunting.
We then travelled to the anchorage next to the Blue Lagoon resort, but were disappointed to find they 'do not serve the public during the whale watching season', so we left them to serve their one client, who was just going fishing, to catch his own lunch!
We moved to Vakeitu which became our favourite anchorage. The best coral garden was just outside (thanks to Santana for mentioning it) with lots of life to snorkel with and haunting whale song. Flying foxes flit over the anchorage at night and early morning saw a visit by a turtle feeding,all within a beautiful sandy horseshoe beach in a lagoon.
We then sailed for 8 hours to go whale watching. We saw humpbacks breaching and fins, flukes and blowholes and a pilot whale close up; a very satisfying day.
We tried to go to one of the best reputed restaurants in Vavau, the Paella on Tapana for Saturday dinner, only to be told it was closed. Fortunately, on the adjacent island a Tongan feast was scheduled that night, so we indulged there instead. Our run in to anchor was diverted to avoid a beautiful little sea snake who shimmied down the side of the boat.
We then moved to our own private anchorage, with access to the back of Neiafu (past the fishing pigs, but we'll have to tell you that story later), but next to a large colony of flying fox fruit bats.
Another for Julie