Hunga Island, Vava'u, Tonga 18:41:33S 174:07:88W.....& on to Fiji

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Wed 16 Jul 2008 13:43

On the 21st June we departed Neiafu and headed for the Island of Hunga, which is the western most Island in the Vava’u group. It has in inland lagoon, which is entered via a man made pass. Well it is actually a natural pass that has been dynamited by the Moorings Yacht Charter company, to enable yachts with a draft of up to 2.5 metres to enter at high water.


     The Pass out of Hunga Lagoon. Note the large rock to starboard.


The Pass is around one boat length wide and is not at all obvious until you are pasted it coming from the North.  The Moorings pilot is in fact very helpful and accurate, as are the C-Map electronic charts.


On the way there from Neiafu we were in fact staying on illegally in Tonga, as we had checked out the previous day and you are required by law to leave the country within 24 hours after clearing out with immigration and Customs. But several boats had decided to go with Spectra to Hunga to celebrate Andy’s 45th Birthday.  As it was a weekend and as Customs were not working, the risks of discovery and monster fines were relatively low. But none the less we were all communicating in code on the VHF radio. Some of the boat names were very creative and gave us a good laugh. WE were just plain “Zippy”, but one boat came up as “Welsh RFU”, and we all knew instantly who that was……………


On the way there I spotted two Humpback Whales. Sadly they were too far away to photograph, but the sight of them breaching was something to behold!!


Meanwhile back in the lagoon. The base for the party was to be the Ika Lahi International Game Fishing Lodge. This is run by Steve and Caroline Campbell, who hail from New Zealand.


   Steve & Caroline taking a rare moments rest bite


Steve and Caroline are passionate Big Game Fisher persons (???). When Steve sold his Medical publishing business  (aged 43) he decided that rather than just retire and trot around the globe seeking out big game fish. They would try to set up a business where he could entertain like minded souls in the joys of big game fishing…with some comfort. So they spent 4 years (seasons) looking for the ideal spot. When they found what is now their Game lodge and guest cottages, it was just a semi-derelict bar.  The only thing that is left of the original building on the lodge is the centre tree trunk that holds up the roof!!


  The Lodge adjacent to the sandy beach, with one of Steve’s boats moored outside.


Having secured a 50 year lease on the plot they set about rebuilding the man centre, which is a Restaurant, and Bar a lounge and a hi-tech, open plan kitchen, complete with TV lounge, and terraces. They also shipped five Cyclone proof cottages from New Zealand in 40 foot containers to be constructed on the site. After many trial and tribulations they were ready for business, when 4 years ago a Cyclone struck, just before their first clients were due to arrive. The large tree adjacent to the main lodge shed a substantial bow ….through the roof. Then as the storm passed overhead, the vacuum it created, sucked the bow out of the building. Taking the other half of the roof off!! The cottages proved that they were cyclone proof. Sadly their boats were not! So they started all over again………..


This is apparently one of the four best places in the world to go Bill Fish hunting. Their policy is to return every thing (Game Fish that is) they catch, unless it is damaged or dead once caught. Their biggest Marlin to date was a staggering 837 kilos!!



They provide several moorings outside the lodge, and so we were five boats and 17 people. Caroline was informed on the Saturday lunch time we wanted to have a dinner party for 17….in addition to the other guests, on Sunday afternoon. She was willing to do this but did not have enough food in stock, and all the shops were closed on Saturday afternoon, and every thing is closed on Sundays in this deeply religious country. So the call went out and the radio to all the BWR boats in the area to bring what ever potatoes, carrots, greens, milk, flower etc that we could spare. As we had been warned that most fresh produce would be confiscated when we arrived in Fiji, our next scheduled stop, this was no hardship at all.


Caroline provided a menu with a choice of two starters, Mains and puddings. Naturally we had fish Chowder to start and Mahi Mahi for main. (This was just wonderful and we ensured we have the recipe). WE then had chilly chocolate cake for pudding. Simply divine………….As this was a birthday party for Andy and part of the BWR needless to say we took this very seriously and the bar was duly worked VERY hard.


  Cheers Andy….Happy 45th….great party…thank you


The next morning brought a beautiful sunny, balmy day. So we jumped in the dinghy and mooched around the lagoon. At the southern end there are a lot of Ironwood trees just trailing their branches in the water and loads of small Finches and Warblers darting about the trees and scrub. It was a joy to hear bird song. Something we have really missed from Devon.


This totally under developed Island was a simply delightful spot. Once again, it would been great to spend more time here. Same goes for Tonga. We loved the simple life style, unaffected, kindly people, and the raw beauty of the place and the wild life.  WE would definitely come back given half a chance.


So it was, with a heavy heart, we departed Hunga and Vava’u on the 23rd June for Savusavu in Fiji. A mere 440nm hop!


(For more information on Ika Lahi Game Fishing Lodge. E-mail: ikalahi {CHANGE TO AT} kalianet {DOT} to or