The Vava’u Group of islands in Tonga is the northern most group of islands. It consists of 50 islands with just 16 of them being inhabited. If you coming from the east on your way across the South Pacific you will likely check into Tonga in Vava’u. We spent two months traveling the islands in Tonga and the majority of our time was spent in Vava’u. This area is great for cruising and is definitely our favorite spot in Tonga.
Checking In & Out
When you are nearing the port you will call the VVRMA on VHF 26 to announce your arrival. This is a volunteer association that assists cruisers. They will provide you with information on where to go and what to do. These people are pretty helpful especially when you can’t raise the Harbor Master on VHF 16.
The Customs Dock can be quite busy as it’s also the dock where fishermen come to offload their catch so you may have to stand off until someone moves. Alternatively you can raft up to another boat. Of course it goes without saying that you need to get permission from the other craft first. Be sure not to dock at the ferry dock unless instructed to by Customs.
There is what we refer to as the “Secondary Customs Dock” where you can also dock but this is not ideal. The top of the wall is quite high up at low tide and the swell comes in here and can really knock you around. At the east end of this dock it is very shallow with lots of rocks. There’s not much in the way of protection between you and the seawall either. We docked here once and that was more than enough for us.
As mentioned on our main Tonga Guide page you need to file Local Movement Reports when moving between island groups. You do this at the Customs & Immigration office here at the main port in Vava’u.
We do not recommend checking in on the weekend as we were charged a pretty hefty fee to do so even though the agent told us he would not charge us. One thing we can’t stress enough in Tonga is to be sure you get a receipt for each and everything you do with Customs & Immigration.
There is a cruiser’s net that operates at 0830 each morning in this group. We suggest checking in or at least listening in while you are there as they have great information to provide that will make your visit more pleasurable. The net operates on VHF 26.
Great Anchorages & Islands
Below is a map with pinpoints of the places we visited while we were here. There are links under the map that will lead you to more information about each anchorage as well. Don’t forget to read the articles about our visits to these beautiful places to find out more about each spot.
The main island at the port of Neiafu is where you will do your provisioning. We spent quite a bit of time traveling back and forth between the other islands and Neiafu.
This is the main town/village in the Vava’u group. It’s great for provisioning and is also where you will check into or out of the country in this group of islands. Click here to read more about it.
The main anchorage here is Port Maurelle. It’s a beautiful, quiet anchorage with crystal clear water and excellent moorings and holding. Click here to read more about Kapa Island & Port Maurelle.
This island is home to the village of Matamaka. These people welcomed us into their village with warm smiles and hearts. Click here to learn more about Matamaka and the amazing villagers who live here.
This is a wonderful place to spend a few days. It’s pretty well protected but the entrance can be a bit hairy as you have to work your way around a lot of reef. Definitely worth it though.
Mafana – Ofu Islands
We anchored in off the beach of Mafana which is between the two islands for just one night. It’s not well protected but if things are calm it’s a nice spot to hang out.
This is a gorgeous spot with rough, ragged cliffs on one side and a calm, peaceful anchorage on the other. It’s a bit tricky to reach but well worth it.
We took a mooring here for a few days but never went ashore. The great thing about this is it’s just short dinghy ride to the Japanese Coral Gardens…..A Must See!!!
If you’re looking for something pretty quiet
The views are amazing and the water is clear. The weather must be perfect to be here. There’s a resort with a bar/restuarant on the island but you’re better off avoiding it.