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Old 29-02-2016, 14:49   #1
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Vanuatu vs Tonga

Greetings Sailors
Planning a trip to the South Pacific June of 2017. Was decided on Tonga until my husband mentioned he might like to sail Vanuatu. We have no experience chartering in the South Pacific. What would you recommend to a couple coming to the region for the first time. We are both retiring so time is not really a factor..... (I know many of you would say do them both ) If you had to choose one set of Islands...... what would it be for you and why.

Phyllis
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Old 29-02-2016, 15:00   #2
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pirate Re: Vanuatu vs Tonga

Vanuatu... lovely friendly people.. mind Tonga has that as well..
However if you charter out of Port Vila.. North or South theres lots of different islands of different levels.. just don't expect anything above 2*
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Old 29-02-2016, 15:34   #3
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Re: Vanuatu vs Tonga

Tonga would get my vote.. Not to say Vanuatu is a bad place to go as long as it is not Port Vila.


Not sure what your chartering options are in Vanuatu
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Old 01-03-2016, 13:59   #4
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Re: Vanuatu vs Tonga

There's no bareboat charter available in Vanuatu, only skippered. I've cruised both places and now live in Vanuatu. Vava'u is extremely easy cruising with not too many reef systems to worry about, sheltered anchorages and it's easy and quick to get back to town for re-supply.
Vanuatu is a bit more challenging to cruise, with open roadstead anchorages and long distances between re-supply, but the experience in the outer islands is by far superior to anywhere else I have been. Port Vila has the best restaurants in the Pacific and is a great place to re-supply albeit not cheap.
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Old 01-03-2016, 15:51   #5
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Re: Vanuatu vs Tonga

I'd say it also depends on how long you can stay. If you just stay in the Vavau group in northern Tonga you could easily do 1+ weeks and everything is really in a tight group of islands. Pretty pretty. But as NoTies says you may have trouble finding a bareboat charter. There used to be a guy there but not sure if he is still there or not. Tonga officialdom was not very welcoming IMO. Very straight-laced. Not very good place for provisioning. Neiafu was not our favorite place but nice and some good restaurants. The islands around Neiafu have been compared to the San Juan Islands in the Pacific NW and I would agree.

Vanuatu was magical to us. By far our favorite place to cruise. But distances are much farther between islands so much of your time could be spent on moving around. The people are wonderful. Smiles all the time. Excellent sense of humor. Good provisioning, good restaurants. We enjoyed our times in Port Vila but the other islands are the best part. Tanna Island is to the south, Ambryn and Pentecost to the north, lots of other places to drop the hook. You could easily spend 3 days at Tanna but it a long ways back past Port Vila to go up to Ambryn and Pentecost. And no charters that I know of but that was several years ago. The best kava that we found (if you care for that bitter, muddy high.) Many of the anchorages are exposed so you have to pay attention to weather patterns and not get caught on a lee shore. Luganville is pretty protected farther north though and has interesting history from WWII (as does Port Vila for that matter.)
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Old 02-03-2016, 06:51   #6
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Re: Vanuatu vs Tonga

If you've not experienced the Pacific, then it won't matter Tonga or Vanuatu. Either will be pure magic.

Vava'u will be much more comfortable to first timers to the Pacific. Vanuatu is a bit more rustic...some places, a LOT more rustic.

Already stated, Vava'u will be much safer for bareboat charter (and, there's no BB in Vanuatu).

That said, if I were making the decision for me, I'd skip Tonga and head straight to Tanna. Then I'd make my way to Solomon Islands. But it's not up to me, I'm frozen in playing armchair sailor.
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:56   #7
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Re: Vanuatu vs Tonga

Telepare is correct about the rustic nature of Vanuatu. That is either a charm or a curse depending on what you are looking for - except for Port Vila (which is nicer than anything I have seen in Tonga) and Luganville.

If you are first time cruisers, Vanuatu may not be for you. And as I said, there are some longish trips between islands. Luganville and Port Vila are a long trip round trip for sure.

Tanna is magic but really only one harbor and if the wind is out of the north you can't stay there - at all. The southern side is a road stead. Small cruise ships have started stopping there and there is some small resort that was all done after we were there. The last cyclone really beat things up though so check out the situation there before going.

But still no BB charters so far as I have heard. But the people are wonderful.
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Old 03-03-2016, 14:03   #8
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Re: Vanuatu vs Tonga

you guys rock thank you. The husband very experienced cruiser Phyllis not so much. I have sailed extensively off California coast and in the Med but that is it and the south Pacific is brand new territory for us both. Going to start with the logical choice..... where we can charter a boat Tonga it is!
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Old 04-03-2016, 08:30   #9
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Re: Vanuatu vs Tonga

Since you'll fly into Nuku'alofa, spend two days there to tour the island. Ha'amonga, Cook's landing, the bats. There is also a wonderful tourist luau that's hosted by a family in a cave- touristy, but excellent!

On Tongatapu, stay at Olini Lodge, owned by the Fonua family. Patriarch Siosaia (Joe) Fonua will bend over backwards to make your stay comfortable.

Olini Lodge



Address: Taufa'ahau Road, Nuku'alofa, Nuku'alofa, Tonga


Phone:+676 25-777 mobile +676 7863399 and +676-7717222
email olinilodge@gmail.com

When you get to Vava'u make sure you get a tour of the island along with the historical stories; I'm sure Moorings can arrange that.
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Old 04-03-2016, 08:42   #10
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Re: Vanuatu vs Tonga

We have not been to Vanuatu yet but Tonga is really nice! It's one of the few places where you can snorkel with the whales...
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Old 07-03-2016, 06:11   #11
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Re: Vanuatu vs Tonga

Quote:
Originally Posted by boom23 View Post
We have not been to Vanuatu yet but Tonga is really nice! It's one of the few places where you can snorkel with the whales...
And be killed by a shark while doing so. Only happened once, so far as I know though.
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Old 28-03-2016, 15:23   #12
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Re: Vanuatu vs Tonga

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Originally Posted by PLSCOTT View Post
you guys rock thank you. The husband very experienced cruiser Phyllis not so much. I have sailed extensively off California coast and in the Med but that is it and the south Pacific is brand new territory for us both. Going to start with the logical choice..... where we can charter a boat Tonga it is!
From April 2 2016 you can now fly Nadi Fiji to vava'u in Tonga direct. save a day and a lot of cash!
Moorings and Sunsail do charter bareboat and skippered
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