In the Tongan language, ‘pangai’ means royal, and ‘motu’ means island. So pangaimotu means ‘royal island’. It is, indeed. The King of Tonga owns all the land throughout the kingdom other than a few small parcels that have been given away. However, the Queen is related to one of the principals in Pangaimotu Island Resort, and she has granted them permission to live and run a business on the island even though the King retains ownership of the land itself.
Pangaimotu Island is just over one mile northeast of the harbor in Nuku’alofa, but it feels a world apart. It is a small palm-covered island with a sandy beach completely surrounding it. There is a secure, albeit deep, anchorage on the SW side of the island just in front of the Pangaimotu Island Resort.
The ‘resort’ is a low-key bar and restaurant that also has four fales (beach houses) for rent. Although we did see the bar and restaurant a few times, we did not see inside the fales. The bar and restaurant served tasty fish and chips, and the beer was always cold. The resort also offers shuttle service to Nuku’alofa a few times each day for $7 pa’anga round trip, and they will take one’s bags of garbage for only $1 pa’anga each.
The couple that runs the resort, Earle and Ana, are very helpful. When Ana saw us shopping in town, she brought our bags back out to the resort with her so that we would not have to carry them with us as we went about town. And Earle arranged our fuel delivery for us for a very small service charge. They do not charge boats for anchoring off the island, and they welcome cruisers to their bar and restaurant. They cater to the cruisers, and consequently, the cruisers give them some bar and restaurant business. A nice arrangement for all.
And this is where we chose to spend our final days in Tonga. We needed to do a few things to get ready for our passage to New Zealand, and this was a great place in which to work on those things. We needed to fuel the boat and clean the bottom – done. We needed to catch up on our rest and sleep – done. Then we waited for a weather window. If you have to hang around and wait, this was a great place to do it!