Vava’u – The Arrival

After flying to Ha’apai in a DC3, I kinda expected the same to go to Vava’u. But alas, remember that 8-seater I took the 8 minute flight in from ‘Eua to Tongatapu? Yup, that was the same plane that flew me to Vava’u. Now 8 minutes in a tiny little plane is quite unnoticeable. 45 minutes in one is a long time. It’s like you’re screaming across the sky in a bucket. But as we came in to land, there were whales in the water below us. They are fairly populous in Tonga at this time of the year.

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As soon as you fly into the Vava’u group of islands, it’s like you’re in a different part of the pacific. While Tongatapu is the most populous island, it is very Tongan in it’s styling. Even the capital city on Tongatapu – Nuku’alofa – doesn’t really feel like you’re in a city. ‘Eua is a Tongan hideaway with it’s resorts and a few very Tongan villages. Ha’apai is a quiet backwater place where there is very little western influence and of course Uoleva is simply a deserted island.

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Being driven through Vava’u from the airport – a trip pretty much the length of the main island – you get the impression that this main island is far more commercial than the other groups. There are more roads here, and in turn, more vehicles to use the roads.

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I was dropped off at the Adventure Backpackers – my accommodations for the next 8 days. Most accommodations in Tonga are guest houses, resorts or hotels, but this place is truly a backpackers, like you’d find anywhere else in the world. The Adventure Backackers is right in the middle of Vava’u’s main town – Neiafu. This town on the harbour is like the west meets the Pacific. It’s got it’s Tongan aspects with the Chinese Markets, the pot holes and the markets, but it’s got bars, restaurants, shops and clubs a plenty. The people are friendly as ever here. And I’ve not seen this many non-tongas since I left the airport in Auckland.

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Standing in the balcony of the Backpackers, you look out along the harbour. There is a great island in the middle and small mountains around the side, otherwise there are many yachts dotted around.

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The main island is large for Tonga, and has been set up with tourists in mind with lots of activities. I am going on a scooter tour tomorrow, a boat tour with snorkelling and caving on Saturday and a big kart island tour on Monday. Somewhere in there I would like to do some hiking. But I’m sure there will be plenty of time.

The Trail Wanderer

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