Mālō e lelei Tonga!
We arrived in Niuatoputapu on Sunday, September 28 after an overnight sail from Samoa.
Our time in Niuatoputapu and nearby Tafahi allowed us an opportunity to be immersed in a community of incredibly welcoming people. A very special experience.
Captain Cook’s moniker for Tonga, The Friendly Islands, totally fits. Niuatoputapu and Tafahi offer an incredible South Pacific experience.
Here are the highlights
On Monday, we contacted Sia who alerts Immigration/Customs when boats arrive given her proximity to the anchorage. Sia then transported the Immigration/Customs Officials to the wharf where we picked them up and brought them to to Amandla. The entry fee was a nominal $35 paʻanga. Check-in here seems far easier than in Vava’u (i.e. no lines) and I think far more interesting.
Health did not come to our boat as originally expected, so we brought the bikes out and cycled to them to pay an additional $100 paʻanga on Tuesday (it is a short enough distance to walk to health from the wharf).
After completing the check-in, we dropped off some exam books, pens, and color pencils (courtesy of our friends on SY Gypsy Blues) with the High School Principal.
On our way back to the wharf, we met local women transforming turninglou´akau or pandanus leaves into materials for weaving ta´ovala or waist mats and other goods. The weaving materials and end products created here are said to be the finest in all of Tonga.
Then we went snorkeling with whales. Underwater pictures didn’t turn out as the deep waters were murky, but the experience will be forever etched in my mind. What awesome creatures.
In the evening, we dined with the family of Chris and Fehia Fahy and the other three boats in the anchorage . The food was AMAZING! Chris, originally from England, married Fehia, a Niuatoputapu local, in July. They currently arrange dinners for yachts in the anchorage and next year will expand their offerings to include a variety of yacht services and a bar.
On Wednesday, we did a bit if snorkeling and then enjoyed a beach BBQ celebration in honor of St. Therese.
I am sad that I was too tired to join our friends Claudia, Cara and Jakob at the evenings celebration at a local church as they said singing was beautiful.
On Thursday, we took a 20 minute dinghy ride to nearby Tafahi Island with our friends on SY Taiga, Marie, Pecome, and Lilo. We had been invited by our new friend Edna who lives on the island. She and her beautiful family share Tafahi with four other families.
Edna gave us a tour about and then we headed to the beach for a picnic and BBQ.
The local families were incredibly generous giving us fruit, flowers, and necklaces made of Pandanus leaves and shells.
On Friday, Edna came to visit The Captain and I on Amandla and we sought to return her generosity with few small gifts and a pancake breakfast.
We sadly checked out on October 3rd, leaving the following day for the next leg of our adventure, Vava’u
Visit Niuatoputapu and Tafahi! You’ll be glad you did.