Listed as #15 on the Tropicana Cafe’s map of the islands, Nuapapu Island is most well known for the small village of Matamaka. No matter which cruiser website you visit you will find that cruisers have stopped here and love the island and the people of the village. We can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are amazing people.
We met with Chief Ladu on the second day we were on the island. He was kind and welcomed us to the village with open arms. We enjoyed an afternoon of chatting with him that Ryan, the then schoolmaster. They had just finished a ceremony for the school children when we arrived and Chief Ladu invited us to partake in the feast.
You will likely read that these people have been in need of many things in the past. On SoggyPaws they speak of some cruisers who helped to repair solar panels and other items on the island. Of course helping the islanders is always a wonderful thing to do. We, ourselves, brought in some canned foods, ropes and fishing items. We also donated some money to help them to repaint the boat that transports the children to Neiafu to school. One of the most incredible contacts we had was with Dinyea (Din yay). She is one of the elders in the village and the day we returned to say our goodbyes she asked stopped to thank us for our gifts of food. She told us the Chief had brought the bag around and allowed each household to choose one item. She took the can of New Zealand butter we had picked up in the islands. She had a huge smile on her face as she told us it is one of her favorite things.
That said, this village certainly is not as hard up as many others you are likely to visit in Tonga. The second time we came we did not bring a lot of extra gifts as we decided we’d save them for some of the more remote, less frequented villages who really need more assistance.
18° 42′ 37″ S 174° 04′ 09 W
This anchorage is a great mid point to wait out weather before heading to the eastern side of the Vava’u islands or even over to Hunga on the west side. It offers some great protection and you can dingy in the cove to some great spots for snorkeling including going to the Japanese Coral Gardens! Those are a must see for divers and snorkelers alike.
Anchoring Information For Nuapapu Island
We came here after spending a few days at Port Maurelle. We anchored to the west of the wharf area in about 3-4 meters of good holding sand. There were very few bommies in this area and we were relatively well protected from winds out of the north to northwest. In fact, the first day we arrived there was a pretty big rainstorm that hit with some gusty winds in the high 20’s. Our anchor held well and we had very little fetch.
Things To Do & See
Meeting the people of the village and getting a chance to learn about their daily life and culture is an experience all on its own. We did note on our second trip here in 2019 that they are now hosting tours on the island where they bring tourists in from Neiafu and provide them with the “Tongan” experience. Obviously this is a way for them to generate income for the village which is another reason we chose to donate our gifts to the more remote villages around the islands.
In the nearby anchorages and across the bay you will find some excellent snorkeling and diving. If you make it to the area you will not want to miss the Japanese Coral Gardens that are located at the southwestern tip of the island by the village of Vaka Eitu. Note that there is really not a village here anymore. There are merely some dilapidated remains of buildings that were to be a part of a resort that never materialized. Of course it does make for some interesting exploration.