Kenutu Island, Vava’u Group, Tonga

From K’s first glance at the Tonga charts, Kenutu was on the short list of anchorages to visit. It lies on the far east side of group, facing the Tonga trench. It has a rare pass to the offshore side of the reef, and it has a great name.

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Sadly our underwater camera sucked in a load of seawater soon after we arrived in Tonga, leaving us with only memories of the Tonga beneath the sea. It was very bad timing because although the visibility here is not exceptional we’re seeing are many more species of coral and reef fish than we did farther east.  Much of the Vava’u Group coral was damaged in a recent succession of cyclones, but after weeks of searching we found a couple of excellent reefs located conveniently near our anchorages.  While S nursed a headcold (!), K spent several days in the Kenutu pass inspecting Leopard sharks and other deep water residents in the surfy offshore channel. It seemed like the perfect place for a Tiger shark to live, but it was relatively shark free in spite of local expert opinion that Bronze Whalers and other pelagic species could be expected.

Nestled among many reefs, Kenutu is remote among the islands in the group for deep draft boats, but quite close to Neiafu by small boat due to a series of shallow passes that cut across the long island strings. Fisherman commuted to the island every day and stayed until after sundown.

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We never tire of watching the residents of these island communities in their daily life on the water. Countless heavily-laden wooden launches move people and goods between the island villages.


While the exhausted adult commuters take advantage of the transit time to catch a nap forward of the wheelhouse…


or on the port gunwale…


the youngest ones stay awake for the adventure and make friends with yachties.



There is a deep current of traditional seamanship that still runs through Polynesia and it was great to see efforts underway to carry this heritage forward at a time when poverty and outside cultures threaten to change the focus of society.

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Yachties form seagoing communities of a similar but different type. Many have been sailing similar routes for months – or even years – and have formed clusters of multi-boat convoys. We had Belgian friends in the anchorage that we met in Fr. Poly, and they invited us to a bonfire with their Vava’u convoy of 4 boats.

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Willem uncorked the inaugural batch of his delightfully unusual homemade Pamplemouse aperitif.

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The beach was crawling with jolly blond Europeans that night and S was very much at home with her yellow haired sisters from Quarter Moon and A Small Nest. 

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The next morning we all rallied up for a quick trip to Kenutu’s subterranean swimming hole before the Small Nest (were)wolf pack moved on.

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It was a grand way to wrap up a grand time in the Vava’u Group. 

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18°42.10’S 173°55.80’W   23-Aug-10 03:45 UTC

One Response to “Kenutu Island, Vava’u Group, Tonga”

  1. Afuhaamango says:

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