Kingdom of Tonga
Base Manager: Raymond Siasau
Located some 1500 miles north east of New Zealand, and at about 19 degrees south of the equator Vava'u is the northern most island group in the Kingdom of Tonga.
Neiafu is the official port of entry for yachts coming to Vava'u. A string of islands and reefs along the eastern edge of the group shelters the area from strong winds and ocean swells.
Base Facilities include, water, fuel, showers, provisioning, gift shops, restaurants, accommodation and laundry
Neiafu is the administrative centre of the Vava'u group and has government offices, banks, schools, a police station and a hospital.
Getting to Tonga is not as difficult as you might think. Click here to see a list of airlines that travel to Tonga and an outline of which days and which routes they take. We hope this information helps you organise your next sailing holiday to the beautiful Kingdom of Tonga.
Vava'u, Lupepa’u Airport
International flights arrive into Fua’amotu Airport on Tongatapu (TBU). Guests may fly into Fuamotu Airport on Tongatapu (TBU), then fly to Lupepa'u Airport (VAV) on NEW Real Tonga Airlines www.realtonga.to.
Note: Due to airline scheduling, this may sometimes entail an overnight stop in the Tongan Capital, Nuku’alofa. The cost of a taxi from Nuku’alofa Airport into Nuku’alofa is T$10 to T$12.
Facilities at Fua’amotu airport include: inbound and outbound duty free, cafes, gift shops and currency exchange. Facilities at Vava’u airport are very limited.
No departure tax from Tonga. Departure tax costs 22NZD from Auckland.
It is essential that you advise the base of your arrival & departure times and flight numbers.
Vava’u Airport transport to the base takes approximately 10 minutes and costs T$25 round trip per person.
We would highly recommend packing prescription medicine and essential clothing (swimsuit, t-shirt and shorts) in your hand luggage as occasionally your luggage may arrive at the base after you do.
Please pack using soft-sided bags, as these are easier to store on your yacht.
Passports should be valid for at least 6 months beyond your stay. Your passport name must match the name on the flight ticket otherwise you may not be able to travel and insurance may be invalid.
All passport holders should check with their local Consulate direct on what visas are required.
It is the responsibility of each individual to ensure relevant visas are obtained where necessary. Sunsail cannot be held responsible for refusal of entry or travel due to lack of visas. If you are in any doubt please contact your Embassy for full details. The Tonga Visitors Bureau website - www.tongaholiday.com has excellent information to assist you.
Please note country entry/exit requirements are subject to change. Please check http://smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/ for the latest information before you leave. Sunsail is not accountable for any requirement changes.
You will need to clear Customs & Immigration before leaving the airport. A landing card will be issued on the plane, along with a Customs declaration form. You may enter Tonga for a period not exceeding 30 days, providing that you have a valid passport (expiration date must be no earlier than 6 months after your planned return), an onward sea or air ticket, proof of adequate funds and relevant health certificates, i.e. up-to-date Typhoid and immunisation shots. Airlines will assume no liability for perishable articles, e.g. food, which may also be confiscated by Customs.
Embarkation at 1400 hrs or around flight schedules. Turnaround days are Monday - Saturday.
The chart briefing describes the cruising area and any potential hazards.
The yacht briefing introduces you to your yacht, its systems and rigging. It is carried out individually for each yacht. It is important that all systems and equipment are fully understood. Briefings are mandatory.
If you arrive out of office hours our base staff will meet you. You will then settle on board and have a full briefing the following morning. You will be located on a mooring buoy in the harbour.
Disembarkation is at 1000 hrs.
Before departing your boat you will need to collect a debrief form from reception.
The debrief form is to let us know if you have encountered any problems with the boat or broken anything during the trip. This enables us to rectify problems for the next charter.
In addition to filling in forms we also require you to bag dirty laundry and leave in the cockpit, empty all cupboards and fridges of food and throw away, return snorkel gear and any lifejackets borrowed from reception and ensure that the boat is handed back to Sunsail in a clean and tidy state. We reserve the right to charge you for boats left less than shipshape.
Tonga is a Level 3 sailing area
Experience levels are based on sailing conditions and the length of passages within your chosen sailing area. Follow the link for more information on the sailing conditions.
Although no sailing licences are required for cruising in this area, we strongly advise that you take any sailing certification on holiday with you. This may be useful should you be contacted by Customs or Port Police. If you have not already done so then Skipper and 1st Mate will be required to fill in a Sailing CV to confirm that you have the necessary skills to sailing in this region.
Cruising permits are not required in Tonga.
Night Sailing is not permitted; you must be moored at least one hour before sunset at all of our locations.
Cruising area for this base is limited to the Vava'u Group (which is a very large area!).
We ask that you stay away from the windward (east side) of the Group.
This information is covered in the chart briefing.
All moorings in the area belong either to restaurants, charter companies or similar and are usually for their clients. As a guest you may use them free of charge otherwise call the owner to ask for permission. In most places you will anchor.
More information on the sailing in this area.
All the charts and pilot books you will need for the sailing area are on board the yacht.
The skipper’s time is booked from 12:00pm to 12:00pm in 24-hour periods. If you have reserved him for the first day of your charter and have a 6:00pm start, he will use this time to ensure he is happy with all aspects of the yacht and will be at the base to meet you upon your arrival. If you have reserved him for a later date on your charter he will start at 12:00pm on that day.
The skipper is responsible for the safety of the yacht at all times. He is not permitted to dive with you, nor leave the vessel overnight. He must conduct a safety brief with you before leaving the dock regardless of the duration of his contract with you.
For “check out charters” (anything less than the full duration of the charter) the check out skipper’s time is booked from 6:00pm to 6:00pm to allow for a meet and greet in the evening and go over basic systems, then a full day with you the next day. This skipper is required to give you a thorough briefing on all aspects of the yacht and dinghy in addition to assisting you with planning an itinerary for the trip and advising you how to contact the base, the return to base procedures and the emergency assistance procedures. It is suggested that you attend the scheduled chart brief that will be supplemented by the skipper during his time with you on the yacht. It is also suggested that you make it clear exactly what you want to cover…anchoring, docking, etc.
The skipper will be required to give you as much information as you require concerning the yacht and its systems, sailing skills and navigation in general.
The skipper fee does not include food or beverages for the skipper and are the responsibility of the client. It is suggested that you discuss this on the first day with the skipper and establish whether you will give the skipper cash for meals, whether you have included him in your provisioning or whether you will accommodate him as part of the group for meals ashore.
The skipper must have his own cabin. We prefer not to put the skipper in the bow due to the shared head sand size of the cabin. If you expect him to stay in the bow, please let us know well in advance so that we can choose the appropriate (small) skipper.
For one-day check out skipper’s it is your responsibility to get the skipper back to the base. If you prefer not to come back to the base you must pay for his expenses (ferry, taxi, etc.) to get him back to the base.
The average tip for a skipper is 15 to 20 percent of the skipper’s fee. This is, of course, at the client’s discretion.
More information on Skippered Charter Options.
The only place that clients can fuel the boat and refill their water tanks is at the base. At any stage throughout the cruising ground, clients will be no further than 20 miles from the base; therefore returning to the base to refill the fuel and water tanks will not be a problem.
The cost of fuel is $3.00 Pa'anga per litre - 1GBP
Cool Boxes are available at the base on a first come first served basis at no additional charge. Please sign for these and return them clean and undamaged otherwise you will be charged for replacement. Only one per boat.
Tongan Pa’anga (T$) - divided into 100 Senti.
Banks are available for changing money. There is a 24 hour ATM in Neiafu town
Credit cards (Visa and MasterCard only) are accepted at a few restaurants in Neiafu town. In general, the shops in Neiafu do not accept credit cards so it is best to have Tongan Pa’anga for use at restaurants, local villages and bars and for shopping in town and at the local markets.
A Post Office is located in Uturoa, 5 KM from the base.
Monday to Friday: from 7.30 am to 3.00 pm during the week and from 8.00 am to 10.00 am during weekends.
The official languages are Tongan and English
Prices vary between areas and from restaurant to restaurant, however the following is a guide for your reference:
There are resorts on a few islands and plenty of restaurants around Neiafu Harbour and the islands. Clients may also come across Beach Feasts, Smorgasbords and markets and the local Tongans willing to sell their produce. Most restaurants have ship-to-shore VHF radio so passing yachts can order food or book a table.
Traditional Tongan food regularly consists largely of root vegetables and fruit, usually boiled with coconut cream. A feast is incomplete without Tonga’s delicacies such as roasted pork and seafood. A seafood speciality is ‘ota ika’ (raw fish marinated in lemon and coconut cream). Another favourite is ‘lu pulu’ – corned beef and coconut milk wrapped in taro leaves and cooked in a traditional underground oven (‘umu).
Mango Cafe, (In front of Sunsail Base)
Tel: +676 70664
Has a mango coloured roof. A modern waterfront restaurant with a large deck over the water. Claims to have the best selection of wine in Vava’u.
Mermaids Bar and Restaurant, (At the Vava’u Yacht Club.),
Tel: +676 70 650
Fresh fish, lobster, and even bangers and mash. VHF 16/68 "Mermaids".
Tongans do not expect tips, though no offence will be caused if special service is rewarded in this way.
The nearest supermarket is located in Uturoa village
There are no shops or stores on any of the outer islands.
There a large range of handicrafts available including traditional tapa cloth and tapa crafts, woven crafts from Pandanus leaves, Tongan jewellery, wood carvings and more, all made locally and reflecting the proud culture and heritage of the Kingdom.
Vava’u Harbourview Resort,
Private Bag 12
Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga
Tel: + (676) 70687
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Ashore, 220V, 50 cycles. 110V is available at the base office using US two-prong outlets.
No shore power for yachts.
There is a 12V cigarette lighter outlet by the chart table on the majority of our yachts.
Using a local Sim card will work almost throughout all of the sailing area. Some anchorages are too protected to receive the signal but you should find somewhere satisfactory. There are 2 cell phone providers Digicell and Tonfon.
WiFi connection – is available at the Mango restaurant in front of the base. It's good for the boat while docked or moored, but won’t work once you set sail. So you can only connect in Neiafu harbour. You will be able to get online in Tongatapu & Neiafu town.
All boats are fitted with a radio and CD player. If you wish to listen to your IPOD whilst sailing you will need to bring along an I-trip or FM radio transmitter.
You will need to visit the Police Station on Tu’i Road to arrange a Tongan driving license. They are open from 8.30am-4.30pm Monday to Tuesday and 8.30am-12.30pm Wednesday to Friday
Driving is on the left hand side of the road at 40km/h in villages and in town and 60km/h between villages.
Pasifika Rental, Neiafu - 70 781 or 7512 628
Avis Rental, Neiafu - 70 873
Visibility is excellent and the diving is great. Lots of dive sites, offering hard and soft corals, sea fan grottos, wall diving and magnificent caves. Equipment can be rented and diving tours arranged.
Padi Courses, Diving Trips, Whale Watching
Beluga Diving Limited
PO Box 70 Neiafu, Vava'u
Kingdom of Tonga
Located at Fangafoa Marina, Neiafu, Vava'u.
Tel: +(676) 70 327
Beluga Dive Vavau has been owned and operated by the original owner for 15 years. Also, Dive Vava’u, and Dolphin Pacific Diving.
Tonga enjoys world class surfing year round with 2 very distinct seasons: the Summer North Swell (November to March) and the Winter South Swell Season (April to October).
From June to November humpback whales calve and mate in the calm waters. It is not only the sight that is fascinating: the male whales sing. Whale songs vary according to location: each year the song at each location changes.
Tonga is one of only 3 locations in the world where it is legal to swim with whales or snorkel with whales. This amazing experience can be managed so it is safe for both humans and animals.
No Fishing permits are required
Vava’u offers Blue Marlin, Black Marlin, Striped Marlin, Sailfish and Short-billed spearfish, as well as pelagic species such as Yellow Fin Tuna, Dog Tooth Tuna, Mahimahi, Wahoo and Giant Trevally.
The Ika Lahi Lodge – Game fishing Lodge with restaurant and bar on Ika Lahi is right on the foreshore inside Hunga Island Lagoon. http://www.tongafishing.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org. The outer Hunga reef offers exciting land based fishing or snorkelling for those whom wish to try something a little more adventurous.
There are some great beaches throughout Vava'u. Snorkelling and reef viewing opportunities abound
We have a range of snorkelling gear which you may wish to use. We are limited on children’s sizes so if you have your own you may wish to bring your own.
Tel: + (676) 59220 Email: email@example.com
Kite Vava’u offers a solid range of kites and boards for rental or hire for students who reach the appropriate level of experience and also for riders who travel without their kit from overseas.
Kayaking Tours to remote islands are available between May and December You may run into turtles, porpoises, whales, flying foxes and many seabirds.
Friendly Islands Kayak Company
The Adventure Centre,
Tel: +676 70173
Imagine hopping behind the wheel and driving yourself, while following your guide, for 40kms of bush trails on a small jeep-like kart, through villages, plantations, out to lookout points and along ridgelines of Vava’u
There are several good walks from Neiafu including the climb up Mt. Talau (131m) which has excellent views over the harbour. Toafa Church on the west point of Vava'u has good views of the cliffs of Hunga Island and other islands.
Provisioning is available in this location. More information on provisioning.
Proof of a current Typhoid injection is needed in Tonga. Immunisation is recommended for protection against Hepatitis A and Polio. Immunisation against Yellow Fever is essential if arriving from an infected country. For up-to-date authoritative advice on health protection, we recommend that clients consult their family doctor.
If you are taken ill and visit the doctor or hospital during your trip contact a member of Sunsail staff as soon as possible on either a lead boat or at a Sunsail base or Club.
If you need to make a claim for curtailment due to illness, ask the base manager for assistance and contact your insurer’s emergency medical service immediately.
Your insurance company will assist with travel arrangements, advice and payment of bills. Obtain receipts for any medication, treatment or transport you have to pay for and submit with your claim
All yachts are equipped with adult life jackets harnesses we leave it up to you to decide when personal safety equipment should be worn. We have a limited supply of children’s life jackets (age 4+ only) if you have your own children’s life jacket we would encourage you to bring it along.
We suggest that children who are not strong swimmers should not be allowed in a dinghy without a life jacket or buoyancy aid and that they should wear a buoyancy aid or harness when on deck. Children under the age of 16yrs should not operate an outboard engine and should be supervised at all times when in the dinghy.