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(votes: 1)
Type Anchorage
Country Tonga
City Neiafu
Available places 50
Max depth 5 m
  • Water
  • WiFi
  • Shower
  • Fuel station
  • Laundry machines
  • Repairs
  • Shops
  • Port of entry
Views: 1783

For boats

 Vavaʻu is the island group of one large island (ʻUtu Vavaʻu) and 40 smaller ones in Tonga. The capital is Neiafu, which is the fifth largest city in Tonga, situated at one of the best harbours of the world,  
Approach is easy, there are few green/red buoys and leading marks, but you will not find unexpected shallows or reefs.
If you entering Tonga call Vava'u Radio on VHF 26. You may not receive a reply.
Domestic Check in
If you want to check in when sailing from another island group, it is permissible to anchor or pick up a buoy and dinghy ashore to visit the relevant offices (Customs). They need a clearance document from previous harbour (from Nuku Alofa or Pangai) only. The Customs office is located in the main harbour, but is not signed. See section Photo.
Domestic Check out
First you should visit Port Captain office to pay harbour fees. Next go to Customs office in the harbour. There you will fill the form and obtain the Local Movement Report Document.
There is no need to take you boat to International Clearance wharf.
On arrival at the next island group, you have to contact Customs. When traveling between Nuku'alofa and Vava'u, or vice versa, one can request that the Local Movement Report includes Ha'apai if intending to stop in that island group.
International Inward Clearance
If you check in / check out to Tonga you have to berth to International Clearance wharf which is located before main wharf (see chart in section photos, depth 5m). If there are many other yacht and not enough space for you, try to moor long side to another boat. You have to release the place after clearance ASAP.
The authorities will come to your boat, or you can go to the Customs. Their office is not far away, but is not signed. See chart on section Photos. The Customs co-works with Immigration and they do their duty, they can also arrange a visit of Health and Biosecurity.
Fees for clearance (in Tongan dollars - $T, 1 $T = 0.45 USD):
Health clearance – 100 $T
Quarantine – 60 $T
Customs & Immigration - free
International Outward Clearance
Move your boat to International Clearance wharf and visit the customs office. Only captain have to go. You will fill few forms and get a Clearance Document. No fees, procedure takes about 30 minutes.
Clearance Hours
Boats are cleared between 08:30 and 16:30 Monday to Friday. They are closed for lunch, usually 12:30-13:30. Lunchtime, after-hours, and Saturday check-ins are available by special arrangement and for a fee (about 130 T$ per hour).
If arriving after hours or at weekends and you prefer to wait until normal office opening times, boats are allowed to stay at anchor, flying the Q flag, but may not go ashore until clearance is completed.
Customs - at the Wharf
GPS coordinates: 18°39'7.04"S 173°59'4.18"W
Tel: +676 70053 or +676 70928, VHF Ch. 26
Email: inforev@revenue.gov.to
When entering the Harbour try to contact with Neiafu Harbour master on VHF 26 or 16.
Yachts can hire a mooring buoy. They are located on both sides of Neiafu Harbour. Remember that all the moorings belong to someone, try to contact with them before picking one (the VHF channel is written on the buoy). If no answer just pick up a free one and contact (VHF or visit) ASAP. Don't try to pick up a mooring without clearing in, the officials watch carefully.
Moorings can be rented from Beluga Diving (VHF 09) or Moorings (VHF 72) for approx T$15 per night. Weekly or monthly rates can be arranged. All moorings are marked (buoy number, VHF channel and operator name).
If you choose to anchor, it is important to do that far enough away from any moorings. On the western-side there are some good anchor spots toward the north. On the eastern-side there is plenty of room more to the south. Anchorage space can be a problem close to town because of deep water, except where most moorings are located.
There are many places where you can go by dinghy and tie it for a while. Most of these places are near the seaside restaurants and charter companies, near the moorings. There is a few small wooden wharfs, just go there and tie the dinghy. Try to keep clear the wharfs for charter yachts; use this belongs to restaurants (for example the second from the left belongs to aquarium restaurant).
Ask in charter companies. You can use your containers or if the weather is calm moor for a while to take the water directly to your tanks.
We did it moored to the first small wharf from the right. There is a water tap and hose. We paid 20 $T (not depends on liters, one load).
There is a petrol station (diesel and gasoline) in the center of the village. If you need a lot, you can order diesel which will be delivered by truck. Ask in Customs office or call Pacific Fuel - phone: +676 70972, VHF CH 26. They will deliver to the commercial wharf area, you have o move your boat there. Confirm that with customs or Porth Authority.
If you are leaving the Tonga, you can order during check out DUTY FREE DIESEL. It will be delivered by truck to the harbour (clearance quay - berth there first) in one hour. Min 200 liters. Phone: 70972 or VHF 26 (call Pacific Fuel). Note: Inform about this Customs, they will supply paperwork for Duty Free Fuel
The price in 2017 was 1.43 T$ per liter (about 35% cheaper).
There are many medium size groceries in the town. Do not expect many. Fresh vegetables and fruits you can buy on local market situated in the main harbour.
Vava'u (Utukalungalu) Market is open Mon-Fri 0800-1600. Saturday until 1230. On Friday  the main market turns into a night market, open all night when fresh supplies are being brought in from the outer islands. Saturday is the biggest market day. Saturday night sea’s the market move to the main road outside supermarkets. Monday market normally opens late at 0900.
Fresh Fish - some locals sell fresh fish and crayfish. If down at the main wharf just listen out for a whistle sound - this means there is fresh fish for sale! Or the Fish Market Building occasionally. Alatini Fisheries do some imported items and fresh/frozen fish. Fish range from $5 to $12 a kg dependent on species and weather. Lobster/crayfish range from $12 to $25 a kg dependent on weather and month.
If you have Digicel Sim card, a good signal is covering anchorage.
There are Hot Spots in most of bars and restaurant – some for free, other paid. Just check it.
There are two banks and few ATM’s in the town.
There is a Laundry service in the center of the town (easy to find, walk the main road to the harbour, the sign will be on the left.
Price: 20T$ per load (7-9kg)
You can put your garbage to the bins belongs to Aquarium restaurant. Fee: 2T$ small bag, 4T$ big bag. Café Tropicana is also providing garbage disposal service.
LPG (gas)
Butane gas is available in Vava'u. Bottles with Propane will be emptied for the Butane to be filled. Bottles can be refilled at Homegas in the village of Toula (at the head of the harbour). You can reach Homegas either by taxi or by dinghy (& short walk) as they have their own wharf - the steps are VERY steep though and sometimes the gate is locked so I recommend a taxi. A return taxi trip from Neiafu is approx. TOP $8. A variety of international adaptors are available except Spanish. Very easy and prompt service! Will NOT fill tanks while fuel container ships are unloading for obvious reasons…
Or take them into Café Tropicana and pay a $3 delivery/fill charge, call first please
Homegas Ltd Tel +676 70319
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 0900-1600
Metalwork/Welding and Mechanical Engineering; professionally trained by a Master Dutch engineer. Ashley on 7512408
Hull & GRP Repair
KW International - next to ANZ Bank in town
There are few charter companies near the small wharfs. They can arrange repairs. There is a sail maker in the town. Ask in charter companies.
Leiola Duty Free on the main road next to Café Tropicana - take in each crews passport
within 24 hours of checking in and also after your passport has been stamped when you
check out.
They called themselves Port Officers and can help in many issues. Just go there, call by phone: +676 71322 or VHF CH 26,16. Services available from Port Officer:
  • Assistance with clearing in formalities
  • Advanced Notice forms – Fiji/NZ/Australia
  • Translation services – fluent in Italian, smattering of French and German.
  • Courier package assistance/advice on request
  • Snail Mail arrangements –please advise before sending: Yacht in transit SY Yacht Name, Café Tropicana, Fatafehi Rd, Neiafu, Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga, +676 71322 tropicana@vavau.to
  • Charts for the Pacific
  • Courtesy flags for the Pacific and Asia
  • Free Recycling/Used Oil/Battery receiver
  • Harbour WiFi provider and free info, weather etc
  • Zenbu.net.nz – Tropicana” anchorages 1,2,3,4,5
  • AIS receiver provider via www.marinetraffic.com
  • Laundry - the only frontloading rain water and gas laundry in Tonga. Max 9kg per load
  • Espresso Coffee/Café/Bread/all day breakfast/lunch/
  • Provisioning
  • Ice cubes and 2kg solid ice blocks – rain water
  • Drinking water – potable filtered rain water
  • Fully licensed bar
  • Rain water hot shower
  • Retail Store – carvings/maps/soaps/postcards/
  • Huge free book swap and reference library
  • TV (5tb) and Movie (5000+) swaps
  • Overnight computer update/download service
  • Rentals – mountain bikes, kayaks, snorkel gear, tents
  • Gas tanks refill service
There are: Post Office, Police and Fire Station.
  • 06 Backup channel for VHF Net
  • 09 Beluga dive/Beluga moorings
  • 10 The Ark
  • 11 Te Pana Island
  • 16 Hailing ONLY – Mayday/Pan Pan etc
  • 26 Repeater channel – VHF Net and used for long range communication, please be considerate, if you are talking to vessels that are close to you. Be aware this channel is monitored by Customs, Police and Tourism!
  • 69 Ikapuna/Tavake Fisheries
  • 71 Game Fishing
  • 72 Moorings calling
  • 73 Moorings working
  • 77 Mounu Island
  • Please be considerate and discrete on all VHF channels, especially the above and move to a non-working channel as soon as practical…  08, 14, 17, 68 Common chat channels.
If hiring a car, drivers require a Tongan license which is obtainable from the Police
Station. Most of the roads are sealed but take care when traveling in outer areas as
These roads are not sealed. A simple road map may be borrowed from Café Tropicana or
bought from Ministry of Tourism office.
·         SPEED limit in the harbour 5 knot – and/or no WAKE.
·         Be aware of wake for other yachts, swimmers, divers, fisherman turtles, whales!
·         Please walk on the pavement/sidewalk – NOT the road, this is a LEFT side driving country, the roads, drivers and cars are not very good
·         Cover and clean any open wounds, flys carry staph bacteria.
·         Beware of Alofi a tall Tongan hawker – flag maker/bread/feasts etc. Rows a dinghy and rides a bike. Report any problems to the Police, or Ministry of Tourism. He does homemade flags from t-shirt material, charges for everything he does and frequently exaggerates about services he offers.

For crews

The Vava’u Island group in the Kingdom of Tonga is a spectacular tropical island paradise in the Pacific Ocean. It has a year-round climate suitable for swimming, snorkeling, diving and
sailing. Some islands are ringed by white sand beaches while others have tropical forests, sea-level caves, and dramatic limestone cliffs with breathtaking vistas.
Remote and truly unspoiled, the waters around Vava'u are crystal clear with visibility exceeding 100 feet. Most of the islands are uninhabited, a few have villages, and a few have very small unique resorts with exceptional food. There is abundant sea life with over 100 species of colorful tropical fish, giant clams, manta rays, sea turtles, spinner dolphins, and July-October the Humpback whales! Truly a paradise with the only Polynesian Monarchy this is a truly remarkable place to explore.
Must See and do NEIAFU and VAVA’U
·         St Joseph’s Cathedral – a vision of colonial piety above Port of Refuge
·         Sunday Tongan Feast at “Three Little Birds”,
·         Walk up Mt Talau National Park; magnificent views
·         Swallows and Mariners cave tour (or go there by boat; snork or dive in both caves, amazing underwater views)
·         Kava circle at Fire station or any village
·         Sunday church service 10am for amazing singing
·         Cafes and Bars on waterfront – not expensive with good food.
Christianity is huge in Tonga - a wonderful way to spend a Sunday is attend a church
service, please dress respectively and modestly so as not to offend. No noisy activities
can be done on a Sunday (land or sea) or you may be visited by the Police. Dress standards in town are: shirts MUST be worn by males, females should be covered below the knee and shoulder.
Several operators are based in Vava’u – have a look at http://www.vavau.to/activities1.html as well as a link to a huge heavily detailed diving, kite boarding and snorkeling guide for Vava’u.
Diving on Vava’u is good but not amazing.
Snorkeling and Dive Sites near Lape Island, Vava’u, Tonga. Site Names and GPS Positions and descriptions by Paul Major, s/v Bella Via
The Corel Garden – 18° 42.798’ S, 174° 06.160’ W
This is the reef that extends from the shores of Nuapapu to the north and Vaka Eitu to
the south. It is the western side (seaward side) of this reef that is most interesting and
colourful. The eastern side is shallow and not very interesting. The challenge is to get to the
western side from the anchorages located at Lape Island and Vaka Eitu. One strategy is to
dinghy to the northern tip of Vaka Eitu where there is a sandy beach for landing the dinghy.
One must still walk or swim approximately 20 metres and through some surf, across the reef,
depending on the state of the tide, to get to the western side of the reef. It is possible to cross
the reef in a dinghy with the outboard motor fully down, 2 hours either side of high tide.
When attempting this, one must time your crossing of the reef during a lull in the waves that
usually break on the reef.
The Coral Wonder – 18° 43.765’ S, 174° 05.397’ W
This reef extends from the eastern edge of Vaka Eitu to Langito’o Island (aka
Langitau Island). It is the southern side of this reef that is most interesting. This area is much
easier to get to and is, in the opinion of many, as good a snorkel if not better than the Coral
Garden. Access the area by dinghying around Langito’o from the anchorages at Vaka Eitu or
Lape Island. Like the Coral Garden it is possible to cross this reef 2 hours either side of high
tide with a dinghy outboard motor down. From Lape Island, cross the reef hugging close to
Langito’o Island, then look to the southwest for a small bay in the coral. Use the narrow
entrance to this bay in the reef to get through the breakers that occur across the reef when a
westerly swell is running. PLEASE take extreme caution to anchor in one of the bare
locations so that none of the coral is damaged in this very small area. The best snorkelling in
this area is to the south of the reef bay previously mentioned. This area features a few giant
sheets of flat table top like coral, many varieties of soft coral, feather coral and “Spotty”, a
large, “Many Spotted Sweetlip”. Spotty is a yellow fish with black polka-dots. He lives just
around the southern point of the reef as you start to head east.
The Coral Canyons – 18° 43.342’ S, 174° 06.305’ W
These coral formations extend the length of the shallow bight that forms the western
shore of Vaka Eitu. From the steep rocky shoreline there are fingers of coral which extend
from the shore to seaward then drop steeply from the surface to depths of 20 meters. The
water is always clearer here than any of the other nearby snorkelling sites. The clear water,
the canyons of coral and the steep drop off make for a panoramic view not to be missed. The
steep coral face dropping to a depth of 20+ meters makes this a good SCUBA dive as well as
a good snorkel site. Access this area by crossing the Coral Garden by dinghy up to 2 hours
before high tide. Time your snorkel so that you can get back across the Coral Garden within 2
hours after high tide. This leaves a 4 hour window for the snorkel. The alternative is a long,
often rough, dinghy ride all the way around the southern and eastern sides of Vaka Eitu and
Langito’o Island (aka Langitau I.) to get back to the anchorages in Vaka Eitu or Lape Island.
Lua Tofua’a (Whale Reef) – 18° 43.983’ S, 174° 05.067’ W
This “lua” (under water reef), located 0.2 nm SSE of Longito’o Island (aka Langitau I)
is easily reached by dingy from the Lape or Vaka Eitu anchorages at any state of the tide.
Anchor the dinghy in approximately 3 to 8 metres of water on any of the bare spots located in
the centre of the reef. The depth over the reef ranges from 2 to 8 metres, the depth around the
reef ranges from 14 to 25 meters, making this another interesting Scuba dive site. This site
offers a few large coral formations and the occasional big fish - amberjack, rock cod and
maori wrasse have been seen here.
Yes, the Humpbacks are there. The season for whales is from June to October. That’s amazing animals, watch them and swim with them.
But, swimming with whales is illegal UNLESS with a likened operator. Fines are becoming
larger and your Visa may be cancelled or your Vessel could be detained. Don’t harass
whales: a collision at sea WILL ruin your entire day! .
Whale watching regulations 2013
  1. Unless you are in a licensed whale watching or whale swimming vessel, you are not allowed to approach any whale closer than 300m.
  2. Swimming with whales is prohibited unless you are on a licensed vessel and in the water with a certified guide.
  3. If a whale surfaces near you, you should change the course of your vessel, in a safe manner, and move 300m from the whales at no-wake speed.
  4. Kayaking with humpback whales is prohibited unless the kayak is launched from a licensed vessel.
  5. No jet Skis are allowed within 2km of any whale.
First time offence is a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 18 months. Repeat offence is a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years.


Fees (in Tongan dollars - $T, 1 $T = 0.45 USD)
Health clearance – 100 $T
Quarantine – 60 $T
Customs & Immigration - free
Harbour fee abou5 0.5 $T per per gross tonne
Mooring buoy – 15 T$ / day
Water – about 15-20 T$ per boat
Fuel – about 2$T on petrol station, Duty free - 1.43 T$ per liter (about 35% cheaper)
SIM Card with 2GB of internet – 10 T$ (Digicel)
Laundry – 20 T$ per load (including drying)
Dinner – 10-30 T$
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