So we’re leaving Tonga, probably tomorrow-ish. The irony of our Tonga sojourn is that we’ve been here just about all the months of the year that most people don’t come here. By far the biggest draw of Tonga—Vava’u and Ha’apai in particular—is the annual arrival of humpback whales from Antarctica. They come here to calve in Tonga’s warm, protected waters, from mid-July through the end of September. Tonga is the only place in the world that allows tourists (aboard the boats of licensed operators) to swim with the whales. (It makes for some amazing photos.) But alas, we experienced a different side of Tonga—definitely a quieter side.
The funny thing about this departure is that we’re not sure where we’ll end up. The winds are kind of mercurial—we just finished waiting for a doozy of a system to pass and now we see the south-easterly trades wanting to reform, but not doing so eagerly. So we’re going to depart and see what we can make out of what the winds do.
Ideally we’ll be able to make some south-easterly headway which will leave us in a good position to tack up to Niue. But that’s unlikely. And if that doesn’t work, and if our window is long enough—or rapidly collapsing—we’ll go north and duck into Vava’u. Ultimately, the point of leaving is to get to American Samoa (where packages await) and we may get a straight shot there and miss Niue and Vava’u altogether. That would kind of be a shame. We’ll see, stay tuned.
In the meantime, here are a few shots from Ha’apai, a smaller and less-populated island group than Vava’u.