Friday, December 23, 2016

Remembering Tonga

What defines our days in Tonga?  Good food, beautiful water, mushroom rocks, friendly people and good friends!  We had a really magical time in Tonga.  It was short, but it was also here that we were able to reflect on our journey so far, and allowed us the time to look forward and ultimately make the decision to come to Australia instead of New Zealand.

Good Food:
In Neiafua, the capital of the Va'va'u group, we found one of the best Fruit and Vegetable markets we'd seen to date.  There was a lot of variety, and the fruits and veggies were fresh and very reasonable.  It was a luck of the draw as to what you could get.  I had bought some nice cucumbers on one day, and when we went back about a week later, there were none to be found.  But there was always something fresh and delicious on hand!
Dave enjoying a delicious Paw-Paw (Papaya)

We didn't catch these guys, they were purchased from a local fisherman - yummy!

Gaby negotiated the price of this watermelon with a local at the fruit and veggie market.  She got this fella for 5 Tongan dollars (known as TOP - Tongan Pa'anga), which is roughly $2.50 US!  The personalisation was done by Gaby - I'm surprised she ended up eating it!

Beautiful Water:
We enjoyed some crystal clear water and good snorkeling in the many caves and coral heads scattered around the islands.
Approaching the anchorage at Mala

Benjamin enjoying some SUP in the calm anchorage at Port Maurelle

Entrance to Swallow's cave.
Dave has previously posted some short video clips of us inside the caves and the huge schools of fish that we swam with

A traditional outrigger canoe

A typical Tongan landscape

Some of the coral heads we snorkeled over
Friendly People:
One day we anchored in a secluded bay and after securing the boat, we dinghied ashore.  We found a sign asking us to pay mooring fees at the local school.  So off we went in search of the school, and discovered the neatest little village we'd seen in Tonga.  The grass was neatly trimmed, houses were prettily landscaped, and there was no litter to be seen anywhere.  We found the school and one of the two teachers that teach the 15 or so kids in the village.  She proudly gave us a tour of the school and we were very impressed by what we saw!

$10 (Tongan) is collected by the school for the use of the moorings in the bay

The neat pathways in the village of Matamaka 

Ben and Gaby at the Matamaka school library

Gaby catching up on some reading!  Many of the books are donated by passing cruisers

Dave chats to the teacher in the schoolroom

The children start learning English at a very young age.  Everything is posted in both languages

Good Friends:
Tonga was the last time we spent time with our group of cruising friends, as they all headed to New Zealand while we took the other path to Australia.  It was here that the kids enjoyed Maya's 13th birthday party (if you have not yet seen the video of the party that we previously shared on this blog, it is well worth a watch!), and also where we enjoyed a Tongan Feast prepared by the family living on the island where we were anchored.

Gaby and Ben are dressed up and ready for Maya's 13th birthday party

Ben and Gaby with Alex and Felix from "Vida" head over to the party

The piggie on the spit under the beautiful Banyan tree at the Tongan Feast

Cruisers mingling at the feast:  Gudrun, Nicole (Invictus), Gaby, Nicolas (Excalibur), Maya (Fata Morgana) and Jemma (Excalibur)

The kids had a ball climbing the big Banyan Tree

Pigs are very common in Tonga.  This one was the family pet:  Gaby, Alex (Vida), Paul and Eleanor (Excalibur) pet it

Local friends were also made: this is Rosemary, the youngest daughter of our Tongan feast hosts

 And so our time in Tonga came to a close.  We bid farewell to our friends as they headed south, and new adventures awaited us in New Caledonia, an 8 day sail away.

This may be our last post before Christmas as we are sailing down to Sydney on Boxing Day.  We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas...enjoy with your families as we will enjoy it with our Australian family here on the beautiful Gold Coast!  Thanks so much to the Smith and Taylor families for having us and treating us so well over this Christmas period.  It's been wonderful to spend this time with you all!

All the best from the Cool Runnings crew!


  1. Are the lobster similar to the Florida Spiny lobster? Or more likethe Maine lobster with big claws?

    The Banyan tree looks!!

    Very cool to see what a Tongan school looks like too. Do the locals speak English?

    1. Hi Trace! My knowledge of lobster is not very good, but I think they looked like the Florida Spiny lobster, and yes, most of the locals in Tonga do speak English (luckily for us!!)