Memorial Day Tonga Style

There's no Memorial Day holiday for Peace Corps volunteers in Tonga, but the weekend was truly memorable. It started with a celebration of fellow volunteer Sarah's birthday and wrapped up with an all day sail around Vava'u.

We started with an impromptu birthday party at my house with several of my fellow volunteers and other friends.

James made a cake for Sarah's birthday, but it wasn't just any cake, it was a Jello Shot Cake? What's that? It's Jello spiked with Rum. It didn't look like much of a cake, but Sarah seemed to enjoy it.

We wrapped the weekend up with an all day sail aboard the charter boat Manuoku. We realized within minutes of pushing back from the dock that our trip aboard the Manuoku might be different from past sails. Mainly because there was no wind. At the helm was boat owner Steve who graciously agreed to take us out. Steve has been sailing for years but has just opened his own charter business.

As a pretty inexperienced sail boat passenger, I wondered if we would spend the whole trip using the small outboard motor because of the lack of wind power. I have never felt a day so calm in Vava'u and even the small pieces of ribbon on the boat were not moving as we pulled out of the Port of Refuge bound for the island of Mala.

As we sailed, well actually motored out of the harbor, we noticed lots of logs, leaves and other debris just floating on the still water. Steve says with no wind to make waves, the debris just sits there. We took turns watching for debris in the water as we slowly moved away from the main island.

Our first stop was Mala, an island resort. We didn't go ashore, but Steve did a great job of navigating through the coral heads. His tri-hull boat needs a depth of just 3 ½ feet. Mala is under renovation. From the looks of it, it will be a really neat place once the work is finished. You can see small Fale's (houses) scattered around the island with enough distance between them to provide some privacy. The beach looked amazing as did the diving.

The new managers have invited us to come out and I hope to go back soon.

After leaving Mala, the wind picked up and went the sails. We cruised by Euakafa and then anchored off a very small island called Nuku. There was a reef here and some cool spots to snorkel.

Unfortunately, we are now getting into the yachting season in Vava'u and we had to share the spot with four or five other boats. This was a first for me. On my past sails, we never saw any other boats. I'm sure as the season gets going, we'll see many more.

Thankfully, the people on the other boats seemed more interested in the beach than diving. That left us to enjoy the beautiful fish and coral formations. We even saw a Stingray.

Thanks for Stan for lending me his camera and underwater housing. I would have been really bummed if I hadn't been able to take some photos. I had my camera stolen from the Friendly Islander Hotel four weeks ago.

Friendly Islander Review Online

Speaking of the Friendly Islander Hotel, one of the volunteers on Tongatapu decided to write a review of our stay there and posted it on Trip Advisor .

Heading to Ha'apai

Just found out that I am going to Ha'apai in two weeks on bank business. This means the only island group I will not have visited in Tonga are the Niu's, which are North of Vava'u. I'm really looking forward to my visit and I plan to stay over the weekend so that I have time to visit with my fellow Peace Corps volunteers who live there.

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