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Dive Review of Dive Vava'u/The Moorings charter in
Tonga/Vava'u

August, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Mike Binnard, CA, USA (2 reports)
Report Number 3685
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
51-100 dives
Where else diving
Maldives, Palau, Fiji, Kona, Bermuda
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny, windy  
Seas
noCurrents  
Water Temp
76   to 0    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
3
Water Visibility
30   to 80    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
?  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
[Unspecified]  
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
1 or 2 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
1 or 2 
Whales
>2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
N/A  
Boat Facilities
N/A
Overall rating for UWP's  
N/A  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
[None]
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
3 stars
Food
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
N/A
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
N/A    
Beginners
5 stars   
Advanced
5 stars    
Comments  
Sailing: as we had been promised, Vava'u is a pretty ideal sailing
environment.  The weather was good, the navigation is easy, and the
islands are great.  Anchoring is easy, because the water is so clear and
you can see exactly what you're doing.  The only trouble we had was that
VHF radio contact is a little less reliable than advertised.
"Sailingbird's Guide to the Kingdom of Tonga" is by far the best
reference book to use.  Their charts and pictures are much more detailed
and helpful than the guide from the Moorings.  You can sail just about
anywhere in Vava'u in 3 hours or less.  And usually there is something
interesting to stop and see on the way.


The Moorings:  We didn't learn until the end of the trip that "split
provisioning" includes free resupply of food (if you return to the
base to pick it up) and a Tongan Feast at a village.  Provisioning was more
expensive than shopping locally, but it's very convenient.  The Moorings
were very laid back & easy to deal with, but provide quick and good
service.

We had a few maintenance issues on our boat (missing cotter pin so the
boom fell off once; engine needed a new starter motor), but the Moorings
guys came right out wherever we were and fixed things right away.


Diving: Scuba diving was better than I expected.  Lots of places had
very healthy and colorful coral.  Not a whole lot of big fish, but much
better than Kona or Bermuda.  Water temp was 76; we were fine with 3/2 full
suits.

Several places had great snorkling: "Coral Gardens" at Vakaeitu
is the
best snorkel site I've ever seen.  The north side of Ava and the edge of
the reef at Maninita (outside of the coral head on the NW side of the
anchorage) were also great.


Dive Vava'u: Pretty much as perfect as possible for a dive operation.
Paul and Karen are really great dive guides: good briefings, the right
attitudes about ecology, lots of knowledge about the critters (from
whales to fish to nudibranchs), and really good at pointing out little
interesting things (orangutan crab, nudibranch, cleaner shrimp, Spanish
Dancer eggs, etc.).   Rental equipment was great, and they definitely have
the best dive boat in Vava'u.  Good food, too.


Whales: We did two days of whale-watching with Dive Vava'u.  This is the
real Must-Do activity in Vava'u.  We booked 2 days because there's no
guarantee that the weather or animals will cooperate.  Dive Vava'u said
they see whales from the boat about 85% of the time, and get to swim with
them more than 50% of the time.

First day we saw some whales from the boat in the morning, but they were
going someplace in a hurry.  Middle of the day was slow with no
sightings.  Then we found another whale who settled down to sing.  We
jumped in the water and snorkled over the singing whale.  It was
completely mind-blowing looking down through the blue to see the whale
40 feet down, while listening to the whalesong.  You can feel the
vibrations in your chest and arms.  Being in the water with a whale
really gives you a good understanding of how big whales are.

Second day we spent an hour following a group of 4 whales who were
fighting.  It was really surprising to see how agile the whales are, and to
see their tactics: lifting each other out of the water, blowing
bubbles to disguise their location, and hitting each other.  At one
point they were only 10 feet from the boat.  Definitely not a time for
us to go swimming.

On other days, we frequently saw whales from the sailboat, sometimes
only 30-40 feet away.  We often heard whales singing while snorkling.


Tonga: It was very clear that Tongans are more motivated and hardworking
than other islanders.  The villages are neat and orderly, and we often saw
Tongans doing construction projects.  Of course they are very friendly and
cheerful, and love joking and teasing each other and us.

Vava'u has a big variety of islands, from 800 foot cliffs to dense
jungles to tiny sandy motus.  It was a lot of fun to sail around and
explore all of them.

In Nukualofa, we did a taxi tour of the island to see the major sights
in about 3 hours.  Visible damage from the November riots was a lot more
minor and isolated than I expected (although I don't know what it looked
like before).

Interisland flights were punctual.

Our only disappointment on the trip was that we didn't catch any fish from
our boat.  But that's probably because we are clueless fishermen.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.


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