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Old 10-03-2019, 12:49   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2009
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Chartering in Vava'u

Hi All,

My wife and I are planning a 1 week charter in Vava'u Tonga in early April. We are very excited as it will be our first trip to the South Pacific. I've tried to do some research online about the markets and grocery stores there for provisioning, but there doesn't seem to be much information. I've read that it can be a challenge to provision there. Does anyone have suggestions about where to go or what we can expect.

Also, are there any recommendations of places to visit while we're there?

Any info is is much appreciated

Thank you!


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Old 10-03-2019, 14:19   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Sydney
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Re: Chartering in Vava'u

Hello, this information is 11 years old but we had the same concerns and ended up bringing a lot from Aus and NZ (cereal, UHT milk, tortilla wraps, coffee + French press, snack stuff) and also we brought a “chilly bin” from NZ with cheese and frozen vacuum sealed pre-portioned meat. Customs had no issue but they get lots of meat from NZ in any event, so I’m not sure how you’d go from other destinations.

We also pre-made a few marinades and spice rubs we wanted.

We had a planned for 7/10 dinners and ended up having other meals out in resorts (very low key) and also we went to a village for a traditional meal with dancing which was fun. I think we caught a fish or 2.

We don’t really do lunch on board - we tend to have breakfast late and dinner early. If people are hungry they just grab a snack/leftover.

But that being said we got eggs, fruit, veg and some bread (not good) from the market. The meat available was a bit scary but the other charterers who we chatted to survived fine.

The charter company gave us some mud maps with many great places to go. The highlight was an underwater cave you can swim into. Make sure you have spares of polarising sunglasses for navigating in the coral, and good binoculars to pick up landmarks and also the local nav marks.

Other fun things we did were attend a local church service when we came back to town for water. Amazing singing.

We found the sailing/navigation/anchoring a fun challenge, not scary but we needed to do a few things I had only read about before. One great thing is that the inner waterways are sheltered so if you get bad weather you can still go places. We had a few stormy days at the start, then it cleared and we headed out to the lower island areas.

Have a great time.

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Old 10-03-2019, 17:16   #3
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Re: Chartering in Vava'u

Thanks Wyamba! That is helpful
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Old 10-03-2019, 18:43   #4
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Location: Fiji Airways/ Lake Ontario
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Re: Chartering in Vava'u

Believe it or not, there is a hardware store. This is a godsend to cruisers, though if you are chartering not so much.

I'd rate it as "rustic" and "austere" but these terms depend upon your perspective. There is no Costco, no Walmart. Most goods are not only made in China, but it's the junk China makes for 3rd world export. But again, you probably don't care about that.

The open air market is very inexpensive, fresh fruits, fresh fish, etc. But it's not open every day. Ask the charter company when it will be open.

And there is a market, so you can certainly find enough to satisfy minimum needs.

Oh, warning: they aren't oranges, they are bush limes- orange limes that look like oranges. They will give you a pucker.

The best thing you will see is the Tongan people. They are wonderful, particularly those from Vava'u. Try to learn basic Tongan before you go, it will get you far.

If you overnight/day on Tongatapu be aware that the country (the entire country) is closed on Sunday. There is a lua'u in a cave, run by a family, I forgot the name I'm sure it's on the internet- absolutely great way to segue into Tongan food, song, and hospitality. You can skip the museums and cultural center. The Billfish is the old-school pub with lots of history. And see Ha'Amonga the triathalon. Don't eat at raw fish at the market by the wharf, a bunch of us both palagis and polynesians got seafood poisoning there (more than once).
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