Neiafu harbor with lots of cruising boats on moorings
We left Niue just before sunset for a two day, 250-mile sail to Tonga. It was a pretty easy downwind sail with winds that were higher than we expected – 20-25kts. We slowed down the last night so we would arrive in Neiafu,Tonga at a good time in the morning. The customs dock was busy with at least 6 yachts checking-in when we arrived. We took an inside slot against the rough concrete pier (lots of fenders up high) and had a big catamaran rafted onto us. Check-in is friendly, but slow with 4 different officials arriving on the boat at different times, happy to discuss the day and Vava’u once the formalities were out of the way. The Quarantine officer asked us a lot of questions about what food we had onboard – do we have cabbage, eggs, carrots, onions …… to most of them we answered yes. But, no problem, they didn’t seize any of it. Check–in cost about 128 pa’anga, Tongan dollars, or US$64. That gives us a 30-day visa.
There are four island groups in the Tongan archipelago, 176 islands altogether, 40 inhabited. We’ve arrived in the Vava’u (vah vah oo, with the oo being short) group, which is the main cruising area of Tonga, with lots of anchorages scattered around. There’s also the the capital, Neiafu, the second largest town in all of Tonga. There’s a great vegetable market where we picked up some of these tangerines careful woven into some palm fronds for easy carrying. The first ones were tasty, then the older ones had some pretty interesting orange worms crawling in them – less than appetizing.
We plan to hang in the Kingdom for the next few months and do some island exploring.