Ha’apai (and we know it)

The Ha’apai Group has climbed within the top three best stops on our Pacific route.  We can sort of understand why Fletcher Christian gave Bligh the boot here rather than return to merry (but chilly) old England.  We love the combination of vibrant reefs, easy anchorages, low tourist and shark counts, high whale count, and fabulous beaches.

We started with a walk on the beach at Uoleva Island.

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Followed by some grilled lamb ribs (judging from the coolers in the stores these Ha’apai Tongans are crazy for lamb ribs).  While we were waiting for our ribs, we took some Cokes over to two boys who were waiting on the beach while their dad went spear fishing on the reef.  When Dad got back he gave us some fish in return.

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The next day we sailed slowly off to Meama island for the promise of a remote anchorage and a tiny uninhabited island.  The diagram in our guide book didn’t show an anchorage at Meama, but there was one sentence that coyly suggested, “it is possible to anchor a boat in the reef’s small opening…”  Intrigued, we went over to check it out and were rewarded with a rather spacious but well protected anchorage with plenty (30+ ft) of water between us and the sandy bottom.  And we had it all to ourselves.

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The reef inside the ringing atoll was shallow and pristine, like a 5 square mile aquarium.   We continued to find new-to-us types of fishes and corals every time we went snorkeling.  We swam through the breakers to the deep side of the reef once, but stayed just long enough to be inspected by a fearless 3 ft Giant Trevally.

The island itself had great views of the volcano on Kao.

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This volcano dominates the horizon…

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…forcing an early sunset on its shoulder.

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19°45.40′S 174°34.20′W   30-Aug-10 03:45 UTC

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