Situated approximately 240 kilometres north of Tongatapu, the Vava'u Island Group is a smattering of 50-odd islands, in an area 23 by 25 kilometres, protected by a semi-circular reef. The islands are separated by reefs or open water, but are not great paddling distances apart.
On our Tonga sea kayaking expeditions we strive for a healthy balance between relaxation and adventure. We generally paddle in the mornings, leaving the afternoons free for snorkeling a midst colorful coral and inside legendary marine caves; exploring lush tropical bush; and observing the traditional village lifestyle. The pace of life in Vava'u is slow and relaxed - much like it was a century ago. We spend our evenings on deserted beaches beneath waving palms and the Southern Cross bathed by warm South Pacific breezes.
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.
Day 1: Arrival / Orientation. Meals: On own. Accommodation: Hilltop Hotel, Port Wine Guest House or Habour View Resort (subject to availability). Upon arrival at Lupepau'u Airport in Vava'u you will be transferred to your accommodation. Please ensure that you send us your full flight itinerary so we may arrange transport appropriately. Your guides will phone you at your accommodation this morning to welcome you and discuss the schedule of events for the next few days. Your guides present a 45-minute orientation talk commencing 4:00 p.m. at The Adventure Centre in Toula Village, a two-minute taxi ride from your accommodation. It is important that all participants attend this informative talk. This is your last opportunity to visit the bank and purchase items for the trip.
Day 2: Diving or Sailing. Meals: L provided (B, D on own). Accommodation: Hilltop Hotel, Port Wine Guest House or Habour View Resort (subject to availability). Excursion Time: Diving 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.; Sailing 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Join our preferred water sport operators, for an active morning of scuba diving (two tanks) or a more restful day sailing aboard the trimaran, Orion. Vava'u is a natural playground for diving and sailing, and reputedly one of the best destinations in the South Pacific for both activities.
Day 3: Whale Watching / Snorkelling. Meals: L provided (B, D on own).
Accommodation: Hilltop Hotel, Port Wine Guest House or Habour View Resort (subject to availability). Excursion Time: 10:00 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. At 10:00 this morning our whale watch operator picks us up from our accommodation. Their team of whale educators discuss humpback whale migration, mating, surface activity and song. From July through October we can observe the impressive acrobatic displays of these magnificent mammals who migrate from Antarctica annually to breed, give birth and nurse their new-born calves in Tonga's sheltered, warm waters. Outside the whale watch season, we enjoy a day of snorkelling, picnicking and sightseeing in the beautiful Vava'u Islands.
Day 4: Day 1 of Kayaking. Meals: L, D. Destination: 'Euakafa Island (Base Camp). Paddling Time: 3-4 hours. A safety briefing commences 9:00 a.m. at The Adventure Centre before departing for the first of 4 days of kayaking. Our journey begins at the entrance to the Port of Refuge, reputedly the most protected and beautiful harbour in the Pacific. We paddle into renowned Swallows Cave, snorkel and picnic at Kapa Island. Tonight's camp on uninhabited 'Euakafa Island has possibly the most stunning view in the Vava'u Group, and is well positioned to whale watch from land.
Day 5: Day 2 of Kayaking. Meals: B, L, D. Destination: 'Euakafa Island (Base Camp). Paddling Time: 1-2 hours. In the cool hours of the morning, a guided walk to 'Euakafa's distinctive tabletop summit takes us to the site of a legendary royal tomb within the fortress of a Tu'i Tonga king. This afternoon, we paddle to nearby 'Eueiki Island for some wall snorkelling and exploring an immense cave with Tarzan-like vines cascading down through a hole in the cave ceiling. While paddling we may be fortunate enough to sight turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales, the latter of which migrate annually to Tonga's warm sheltered waters (July-October) to breed and calve.
Day 6: Day 3 of Kayaking. Meals: B, L, D. Destination: Taunga Island (Base Camp). Paddling Time: 1-2 hours. A short paddle across the channel, and we reach the isthmus of Taunga Island. Snorkelling and exploring the inter-tidal zone of Taunga, Ngau and Pau Islands, connected to one another at low tide by a sand bar, are pleasant afternoon diversions. This evening, the villagers host an authentic Tongan feast consisting of roast suckling pork complemented by fresh root vegetables, octopus, reef fish, vegetarian dishes, and tropical fruits such as papaya in coconut milk, all steamed in an underground oven or 'umu. This gastronomic delight is followed by a traditional Polynesian song and dance performance.
Day 7: Day 4 of Kayaking. Meals: B, L (D on own). Destination: The Adventure Centre. Accommodation: Hilltop Hotel, Port Wine Guest House or Habour View Resort (subject to availability). Paddling Time: 2-3 hours.
On this final day of paddling, the journey westward takes us back to the Port of Refuge via Mala Island. Once the home of a cannibal demi-god who ate passing outrigger canoeists, Mala is now home to a friendly tourist resort! From the beach we can snorkel to the entrancing Japanese Gardens before returning to The Adventure Centre. From here, we transfer by taxi to your accommodation property and hot showers!
Day 8: Mountain Biking. Meals: L, D provided (B on own). Accommodation: Hilltop Hotel, Port Wine Guest House or Habour View Resort (subject to availability). Excursion Time: 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. The best way to see Vava'u Island is from a bicycle seat. Following a brief orientation at The Adventure Centre you and your guide(s) will set off for a full day of exploring historic sites, legendary caves, plantations, look-outs and beaches on high quality mountain bikes with front suspension forks. This evening your guides join you for dinner at a fine restaurant in Neiafu.
Day 9: Departure. Meals: On own. The trip concludes today with transfers to Lupepau'u Airport and a warm farewell from your guides.
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