We left Neiafu last Monday, after a very disappointing rugby game, to explore the islands in the Vava’u group. What a beautiful trip it has been: small islands dotted all over the place in easy reach so one can hop from one scenic anchorage to the next in a few hours. The weather has been good too, so it was back to our daily routine of school and boat jobs in the mornings and snorkelling and exploring in the afternoons. And a day off on Sunday!
We met two other kid boats and had a lot of fun. One of the boats had to leave after a few days but one stayed and together we explored several anchorages, uninhabited islands, crazy caves and stunning underwater sea life. There have been plenty of play-overs, sundowner drinks, guitar sessions and it’s been good to practice our French again. I also did my first cave dive near Port Maurelle, which was very cool!
On Thursday we stopped in Tapana to eat at a Spanish restaurant, which was recommended by Spanish friends. And wow, it wasn’t just a great dinner but a real experience. The “restaurant” was a wooden shack on the hillside of a small island. The owners – Maria and her husband – arrived here from Valencia with their yacht twenty-six years ago. There was no menu; we just had to sit down, pour ourselves a drink (we had to bring our own wine) and relax. The food was amazing: delicious tapas kept coming one after the other followed by a large paella. After dinner a curtain in the corner of the restaurant was swept aside and a band was revealed. Four guys, Maria herself, a dog and a goat were on stage and some uplifting Spanish tunes came next that got everyone dancing. Aeneas became the drummer for the night and we all had a great time.
The next morning we said goodbye to Toucan, who headed west, and we headed east together with the other kid boat. We stopped in an anchorage close to Neiafu to pick up some fresh fruit and veg and then explored another nearby island: Kenutu. On Sunday morning we all headed ashore, machetes in hand to cut our way through the dense bush. We found a trail and walked to the other side of the island where we were rewarded with amazing views of the surf crashing against the high exposed cliffs. On the way back to the dinghies we walked across the coral reef, as it was low tide. After lunch we all went snorkelling and explored a huge area of staghorn corals with a surprising amount of fishes hiding in every little corner. The kids did some surfing on the SUP pulled by the dinghy (and the adults might have had a go at it too). Not bad for a Sunday!
On Monday it was back to school. We explored a couple more anchorages and will be heading back into Neiafu tomorrow to stock up on supplies and diesel and to check out before heading south. We would still like to explore the islands in Southern Tonga and would also love to stop in Minerva reef on our way to New Zealand but of course everything will depend on the weather. We are watching the forecast carefully and want to make sure we pick the best window. The sail from Tonga to New Zealand can be rough (comparable to the Bay of Biscay) so we need to time it carefully, and we will.