October 7-10 & 20-24, 2005
The main island, Vava'u Island, is the location of the sailor-friendly town of Neiafu. Neiafu is a picturesque town on the east side of the well-protected harbor. It is only a few blocks long. Neiafu provides many boating services - they even have a rail on which they can haul a boat out of the water. There are a few stores for limited provisioning, there is a bank with an ATM, and there is even internet access. And, of course, there are a few bars and restaurants; however, it appears that the Mermaid is the watering hole of choice for the sailing community, and the Dancing Rooster has excellent food
Neiafu is also the home of the Moorings Charter Company's Tongan operation. This particular operation has 20 boats in charter, and that is a relatively small percentage of the boats cruising Vava'u at any given time. However, many of the boating services in Vava'u originated to service the Moorings' fleet, and those services drew cruising boats to the area. The presence of a small charter fleet and a large cruising fleet has promoted further growth of the boating services, and Vava'u has become a very cruiser-friendly town.
There are countless moorings along the east side of the harbor, and most of them belong to the Moorings or Beluga Diving. They rent these to visiting boats for $10-20 pa'anga per night. Although most boats rent these moorings, we prefer to hang on our own ground tackle, so we anchored rather than tying up to a mooring. The moorings run for at least a mile along the east shore, and many boats have a long dinghy ride to town. But we anchored directly across the harbor from town, so our ride was short, we had quiet and privacy, and we felt secure on our tackle. It was a remarkably nice anchorage for being a few minutes away from town.
During our first visit to Neifau, we did laundry, took care of a little business, and did a bit of provisioning. Our friends, Don and Gwen on Tackless II, were anchored nearby, and we got together a few times. Neiafu was good to us, but we enjoy being out of town, so we didn't hang around long. We stayed for four nights on our "entry" visit to Neiafu.
Then we returned to Neiafu on October 20, and we stayed until October 24. We again did laundry and a bit of shopping before checking out on October 24 when we headed for the Ha'apai group - the next southerly group of islands as we work our way south toward New Zealand. So for now, nofo a from Neiafu.