Day 1: Arrival. Meals: On own. Accommodation: Matafonua Lodge (or The Resort at Billy's Place subject to availability). A driver is waiting at Salote Pilolevu Airport in Ha'apai to escort you to your accommodation. Please ensure that you send us your full flight itinerary so we may arrange transport appropriately. Your guides contact you today to welcome you and to discuss the schedule of events for the next few days.
Day 2: Acclimatisation & Orientation. Meals: B. Accommodation: Matafonua Lodge (or The Resort at Billy's Place subject to availability). Today is an opportunity to acclimatise and, for those travellers arriving from far-away places, to recover from jet lag. Your guides present a 45-minute orientation talk commencing 9:30am at your accommodation property. It is important that all participants attend this informative talk.
Day 3: Day 1 Kayaking. Meals: B, L, D. Destination: Uoleva Island. Paddling Time: 3-4 hours. Transport departs early this morning (exact time is tide-dependent) from Matafonua Lodge or The Resort at Billy's Place to our launching site approximately five kilometres north of Pangai. Here, the guides give a safety briefing before we depart for the first of nine days of kayaking. Today we paddle along the leeward shores of Lifuka and Uoleva Islands skirting pristine reefs and beaches. Tonight's camp is at the southern end of Uoleva Island, rated by Outside Magazine as one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world. Here, too, is a magnificent coral ledge smothered in soft corals - a snorkeller's dream.
Day 4: Day 2 Kayaking. Meals: B, L, D. Destination: Uiha Island. Paddling Time: 1-2 hours. Weather permitting, we paddle across a wide channel to Tatafa, a tiny uninhabited island visited only by locals. Here, we stretch our legs and have a snack before paddling eastward to neighbouring Uiha Island. The view from our campsite on the southern end of Uiha gives a preview of the remote southern islands to which we journey tomorrow. This afternoon we explore Felemea village and re-supply with fresh water in anticipation of spending the next few days, weather permitting, in the remotest part of the Lifuka Archipelago.
Day 5: Day 3 Kayaking. Meals: B, L, D. Destination: Uanukuhahaki Island (Base Camp). Paddling Time: 2-3 hours. Our paddle plan today is southward on the inside of a fringing reef across shallow aqua-hued waters to Uanukuhahaki (Uanuku) Island for three adventurous days of snorkelling, beachcombing and more paddling. Base camping three nights on Unanuku allows us to fully enjoy the remoteness of this perfect South Pacific island.
Day 6: Day 4 Kayaking. Meals: B, L, D. Destination: Uanukuhahaki Island (Base Camp). Paddling Time: 1-2 hours. We can snorkel for hours on end in the south of the Archipelago and may witness green sea turtles nesting on Uanuku, one of our favourite islands in the Lifuka Group. This remote, uninhabited island is definitely not in the guidebooks! Nor is Uanukuhihifo island, an optional short paddle to the south.
Day 7: Day 5 Kayaking. Meals: B, L, D. Destination: Uanukuhahaki Island (Base Camp). Paddling Time: 1-2 hours. An optional paddle in empty kayaks to a nearby sand bar with nothing on it but sand and shells enhances one's sense of the remoteness of this very special area. Whilst paddling, we may be fortunate enough to sight turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales, the latter of which migrate annually (July through October) to Tonga's warm sheltered waters to breed and calve.
Day 8: Day 6 Kayaking. Meals: B, L, D. Destination: Tatafa Island. Paddling Time: 1-2 hours. Retracing our paddle strokes, we return today to Uiha Island and stroll through the quaint outer island fishing village of Felemea for a change of pace. Tonight's camp is on the uninhabited island of Tatafa, from where our guides may conveniently assess the sea conditions with tomorrow's channel crossing in mind.
Day 9: Day 7 Kayaking. Meals: B, L, D. Destination: Uoleva Island (Base Camp). Paddling Time: 2-3 hours. Conditions permitting, we cross 'Auhangamea channel to the lee shore of Uoleva Island. At the southern tip of Uoleva, we can enjoy snorkelling close to shore. More confident snorkellers can do a drift snorkel along a spectacular coral wall.
Day 10: Day 8 Kayaking. Meals: B, L, D. Destination: Uoleva Island (Base Camp). Paddling Time: 1-2 hours. Take advantage of todays more relaxed pace to explore Uoleva island. Work up an appetite paddling, fishing, snorkelling and/or beachcombing for this evening's meal at a local resort.
Day 11: Day 9 Kayaking. Meals: B, L, D. Destination: Pangai township. Accommodation: Matafonua Lodge (or The Resort at Billy's Place subject to availability). Paddling Time: 3-4 hours. On this final day of paddling, we paddle north along Uoleva and Lifuka Islands back to Pangai township where we started our journey nine days ago. From here, we transfer by taxi back to your accommodation, fresh water showers and a sumptuous farewell dinner!
Day 12: Departure. Meals: On own. The trip concludes today with transfers to Salote Pilolevu Airport and a warm farewell from your guides.
Note that the following itinerary is subject to alterations and delays owing to weather, sea conditions and/or logistical considerations. B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner.
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Australia and Oceania Tonga Outdoor: Water Drifter Canoeing/Kayaking/Rafting Snorkeling
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