Guided Tours in the Tropical Vava’u and Ha’apai Archipelago.
Friendly Islands Kayak Company
… have a sincere interest in protecting the culture and environment of Vava’u and are committed to limiting the number of kayakers at any one time. Advance reservations are essential. Kayakers of all abilities are welcome.
THE VAVA’U ISLANDS
The Vava’u Group, 240 kms north of Tongatapu (capital of Tonga), is comprised of some 50 bush-clad islands. These hidden jewels are protected from the rolling waves of the Pacific by the semi-circular coral reef. The Vava’u Islands are approximately 21 kms by 25 kms and paddling days can be short, leaving plenty of time for fishing, snorkelling, beachcombing, visiting villages or just relaxing.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Vava’u’s hilly terrane is blanketed by lush tropical vegetation. Amongst its diverse lofty trees are the fragrant pandanus or screw pine, the elegant casuarina, and the esteemed mulberry tree, the bark of which is used to make fine quality tapa cloth. The islands also abound in fruit and nut trees, such as the broad-leaved banana, the breadfruit tree, the telie or tropical almond, and the graceful coconut whose plume-like heads provide welcome shade.
Vava’u waters teem with myriad fish, such as the tiny iridescent blue damsel and the gaily coloured clown and parrot fish, that dart amongst multi-hued coral pinnacles. Bring your snorkelling gear and experience the extraordinary underwater world. Kayakers may encounter sea turtles, porpoises, humpback whales, flying foxes and a variety of curious seabirds.
The climate of Vava’u is very pleasant, being slightly cooler and less humid than most tropical areas. From May through December the mean temperature is 22°C degrees and the mean humidity 74%. Trade winds usually build in the afternoon to 12 – 15 knots.
While on tour you experience a Tongan Feast of roast suckling pig plus local vegetables, octopus, reef fish, and tropical fruits such as papaya in coconut milk steamed in an underground oven (“umu”). The gastronomic delight is accompanied by a traditional Tongan song and dance performance. Other meals on tour are supplemented by fresh seafood, local produce and other delights.
SAFETY AND EQUIPMENT
The fleet of quality single and double kayaks has been chosen with stability, sea-worthiness and proven past performance in mind. All kayaks, complete with sprayskirts, life vests, paddles, bilge pumps and charts are maintained to the highest standards. Friendly Island Kayak Company conforms to the safety guidelines of the Trade Association of Sea Kayaking (TASK – North America) and the Sea Kayak Operators Association of New Zealand (SKOANZ).
Currently the Tongan Government is making moves to designate this unique island group the Pacific Islands’ first World Heritage Site. Friendly Islands Kayak Company are privileged to have been granted permission to conduct tours in this very special area.
Situated roughly about 120 kms south of Vava’u, the Ha’apai’s are quite different from the Vava’u Islands in that they are true archipelago about 45 kms in length with expansive white-sand beaches, low coral islands, towering volcanoes, and colourful lagoons and coral reefs. Not only will you be struck by the natural beauty of these islands, but you will find the inhabitants to be the friendliest folk in the kingdom! Moreover, village life is slow and relaxed – much like it was 100 years ago. And because foreigners are rare in Ha’apai they are welcomed with open arms by the locals.