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

 
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Happy Ha'apai Divers/Sandy Beach Resort, Sep, 2006,

by Bill Hollister, CA, US . Report 2996 has 1 Helpful vote.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Several locations in Fiji & Indonesia; Little Cayman, Hondouras, Bonaire.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy Seas choppy
Water Temp 75 to 77 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 70 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions none
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales >2
Corals 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 N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving 2 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 2 stars
Comments 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 shells.

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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