The Island of Kenutu, Vava'u

The Island Kingdom of Tonga is more than 100 islands, many of which are uninhabited. Some are very small, often just a giant rock with a free trees on it. Others are visible only at low tide. However, there are also some large islands where no one lives. The Island of Kenutu in Vava’u is one such island. It’s located about a 45 minute boat ride from the main island.

Last weekend, I joined 11 other Americans for a camping trip on Kenutu. We packed onto the small boat with probably more luggage than we needed and set off for a weekend adventure. The boat stopped in the water, not far from shore. There are no docks or other places to park a boat, so we walked in the water to get ashore. We made a human chain, passing each item of luggage from one person to the next until it made it to dry land. Then the boat left, leaving us as the only people on the island with no way to get off until the boat came back to retrieve us the next afternoon.

There is something refreshing about being all alone knowing that you can’t go anywhere. It was my first trip to this island, but it is a favorite of the Peace Corps volunteers and they knew exactly where to go. We climbed up from the beach to a beautiful camping spot on the opposite side of the island. The camping site, covered in pine needles, sits on top of a tree covered cliff with majestic views to the water below.

We made camp and gathered firewood and then headed back to the beach. I donned my mask and snorkel and headed into the grassy waters where we had arrived. The snorkeling here was not spectacular, but I did see a few fish hiding in the grass as I swam by.

After watching a beautiful Tongan sunset, we made our way back to the camp site and started the fire. Dinner was hot dogs and pork and beans but it tasted great. We ate as the light from the fire slowly overtook the light from the sky creating a magical glow around our island for the night as we listened to the waves crashing into the cliffs below.

After dinner several of us went out to the bluff and looked at the stars. The stars here are magnificent with no light pollution and no moon. We sat there star-gazing before heading back to our tents to call it a night.

Sometime during the night, it started to rain. Pour would be a better adjective. Usually on our camping trips we are all up in time to see the sun rise. This time, we all pretty much stayed in our tents until the rain stopped. Breakfast was oatmeal and cookies until Sarah brought out the eggs which we hard-boiled over the fire in Pacific Ocean water. A nice treat before the rain started again and we went back to our tents.

Finally around 3pm, the rain stopped and we broke camp, heading back to the beach to meet our ride. While waiting we told this photo of the survivors of a magnificent 30 hours on Kenutu.

The boat ride back was an adventure over the rough seas, but we made it, slightly wet but with great memories of camping on an uninhabited island.

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