We began our cruise through the Ha'apai group of Tonga on the island of Foa. This attractive anchorage is off the Sandy Beach Resort. The small island just north is a short dinghy ride in calm conditions and the beach had the best shelling we have found so far. From here we moved south to the main town of Pangai on the island of Lifuka. It is a sleepy town with friendly people and few services. The store below was the local supermarket and islanders come from surrounding islands to shop here.
Lifuka is also the original home of the royal family and has its own royal palace. Many of the former royals are buried here. The king has not visited in many years so the palace was looking a little rundown.
The church below was on the island of Uiha. We found it a little disturbing that islands with obviously limited resources would invest so much in a church. We attended services here and enjoyed the singing but didn't understand a word of the sermon. We were welcomed warmly and enjoyed the service.
On the southern side of Uiha we met Hese of the Esi 'O Ma'afu resort. This is the first traditional Tongan resort we have found. This is simple living but the food is good and the Fale's(grass huts) are clean and it is only 9 pa'angas a night per person. We had a lobster dinner and though we had to share 3 modest lobsters between 6 people we had many other fish dishes that were delicious and more food than we could eat. The meal was just 15 pa'angas a person. This is a great place for the traveler on a budget. His number is 60 605 and the Ha'apai Visitors Bureau is 60 733
We did a dive in Tonga with Ha'apai Watersports. We went about ten miles offshore to a submerged reef known as the Grand Canyon of Ha'apai. The visibility was great and the coral was untouched. There were not a lot of fish but it was a very good dive.