Traveling The Ha’apai Group

With Nuku’alofa and the Tongatapu group of islands far behind we have made our first stop at Nomuka Iki (pronounced: No mü kī kē) in the southern part of the Ha’apai group of islands here in Tonga. 

There are 62 islands in the Ha’apai group and only 17 of them are inhabited. In total there are approximately 8000 people living in 30 villages throughout the islands. Only the four largest islands actually have electricity, telephones and running water and none of the islands have television so for those binge TV watchers out there you probably wouldn’t be all that happy living here.            

I awoke from my post watch nap around 0630 to weather that was quite a bit more nautical than I was expecting. We had 25-30 knot winds and three meter swells beating us up pretty good. Dan was getting soaked in the cockpit as the waves crashed over the side of Dazzler. I stayed below because there’s really no need for both of us to get soaked right???

Just one of the many reefs surrounding Mango Island.

We had hoped to stop at Mango Island which is just a short trip from Nomuka Iki  but as we neared the entrance to the anchorage I was on deck and I just didn’t get a good feeling about it. The anchorage is very small and it’s surrounded by coral reefs. There wasn’t much protection from the wind and swell either. If winds changed during the night and we had to bug out it could have gotten pretty dicey so we opted to continue on to Nomuka Iki. It is just a short distance away but due to the sea state and winds it took us a good two hours. Needless to say we were both very happy to get the anchor down and enjoy the ceremonial anchor down beers.

Technically they ask you to do an inter island check in each time you move from one island group to another. For the Ha’apai group you have to check in at Lifuka but that’s further north and coming back down can be tricky so we decided to just make an overnight stop here to wait out the winds and weather. The fact is that we are legally checked into the country so we weren’t all that concerned about making a stop or two on the way to Lifuka. And, they can’t prevent you from taking safe harbor in bad weather.

Nomuka Iki is a small uninhabited island near the larger island of Nomuka. The remains of an old prison are on this island and the Takuo fishing vessel is beached on her shores. This boat hit the reef during a storm and several of the men were lost. The hull later washed up on the beach where it remains to this day. Sadly it reminds us all of how incredibly dangerous these reefs can be.

Just after we dropped the hook the sun came out and the winds started to die down a bit so we spent a lovely afternoon and evening here on the hook. The water is beautiful and life is good! Now it’s time to plan our next stop. Hmmm….so many choices out here. Where will we go?

Until next time,

Jilly & Dan

Author: Dan & Jilly

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