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Dive Review of Happy Ha'apai Divers/Sandy Beach Resort in
Tonga/Ha'apai Group

September, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by Bill Hollister, CA, US
Report Number 2996
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Several locations in Fiji & Indonesia; Little Cayman, Hondouras,
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, rainy  
Water Temp
75   to 77    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
70   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  1 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
2 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
2 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
2 stars  
Shore Diving  
2 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
2 stars    
People go to Tonga to snorkel with Humpback whales. There are two main
island groups in the Kingdom of Tonga where you are likely to be able to
snorkel with the whales: Vava'u and Ha'apai. The Vava'u group has most of
the whales, and visitors are much more likley to be able to get into the
water with them. But we went to the Ha'apai group -- to the Sandy Beach
Resort on the island of Foa -- because it is reputed to have the best beach
in Tonga (our info was that the beaches in the Vava'u group were not very
good), and shelling and long walks on the beach are an important part of my
wife's focus (she is not a diver). We spent two weeks at the resort. The
dive operation is located on their property, although it is an independent
operation. The diving is not as good as I have experienced in other Pacific
locations: much fewer fish (variety and number), healthy coral, and
critters. Two locations were good (Seven Sisters and Akouty), the rest
uninteresting. One notable item for photographers is that on these two
sites the fish seemed tamer than I have seen in other locations: anthias,
fusillers, wrasse, and butterflys allowing me to get within 1-2 feet of
them and literally posing for me. The dive operation is OK, but suffers
from serious lack of communication. Several times we expected a normal 4
hour 2-dive morning on the dive boat, but instead went on an all-day
combined dive and whale watch on the catamaran. Not really complaining, but
no one bothered to tell us. Not very customer-centered, although they will
allow you to do your own diving once you demonstrate competency. 

The resort is fine, basic but comfortable cottages on the beach, good food
(but not much variety). The German owners are quite willing to help. The
beaches (there is another uninhabited small island a 10-15 minute kayak
trip away with a nice beach)are very nice, and we did get some very good

Overall, if you want to get wet with Humpback whales I recommend going to
Vava'u, then if you have time visiting Ha'apai for the beaches and
relaxation. But for jsut diving go to Fiji or other Pacific locations.
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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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