Stunning Natural Sights in Vava’u
It’s the nature that entices many to the breathtaking 52 islands of Vava’u in Tonga. Not only are the commanding views from the islands’ various lookouts a reason to explore the great outdoors, but it’s what’s between the islands that give travellers a heightened appreciation for nature. The waters of Vava’u harbour beautiful coral gardens, sea caves, dive sites and refuge for humpback whales to raise their young. See some of the natural attractions in Vava’u that you can experience in the list below!
1. Swallows Cave
A top snorkelling spot and a priority on most boat tours’ itineraries in Vava’u, Swallows Cave is a stunning natural attraction. Carved into the side of Kapa Island, this towering cave provides a safe place to hide for large schools of fish, which make astonishing patterns in the water when you snorkel with them. Check out some of the tours that will take you there in the 10 Best Boat Tours of Vava’u.
Location: Kapa Island
2. Mariner’s Cave
The “other” famous cave in Vava’u is one far less visited as it provides a bit of skill to get inside. The top of the cave entrance peeks from just above the water’s surface on the cliffs of Nuapupu Island, because, yes, you have to dive underwater to get into this cave. You need to swim underwater for a length of around 4m (13ft) to emerge in the cave’s airtight chamber.
Location: Nuapapa Island
3. Japanese Coral Gardens
Vava’u has quite a few amazing snorkelling spots. One definitely worth mentioning is the Japanese Coral Gardens. This is a collection of bommies teeming with coral, fish and all sorts of colourful and crazy creatures! See more amazing snorkelling spots in the 10 Places to Snorkel in Vava’u.
Location: Mala Island
4. Mt Talau
Get an amazing vantage point of the Neiafu Harbour and the Port of Refuge from the peak of Mt Talau. Easily accessible from Neiafu, Mt Talau is situated in the Mt Talau National Park. There is a short walk to take you on top of its flat peak at 131m (331ft) where a viewing platform is in place to provide a picture-perfect view. Be aware that the steps to the top are slippery!
Location: From Neiafu, follow Tapueluefu Road for approximately 2km (1.2 miles) until you see the entrance signs for the Mt Talau National Park
5. ‘Utula’anina Lookout
Speaking of views, some of the most breathtaking views can be found at the ‘Utula’anina Lookout on the northern coast of ‘Utu Vava’u. After making your way doing a rough gravel road, your reward is a viewpoint across the northern coast of the island with its white-sand beaches, rugged clifftops topped with forest, and turquoise waters.
Location: ‘Utu Vava’u, north of Holonga. The lookout is well signposted
6. Maninita Island
This uninhabited island provides an important habitat for a range of birds, including the endemic Tongan whistler. You can visit the bird sanctuary yourself on a bird-watching tour with Mounu Island Resort or the Mandala Island Resort. Find out more in the 5 Best Places for Bird Watching in Tonga.
Location: Maninita Island
7. The Whales
Between mid-July and mid-October, Vava’u becomes the mating and calving grounds of humpback whales who have made an amazing journey from Antarctica. Visitors have a unique opportunity to snorkel with these majestic creatures on specialised whale swimming tours. Find out more in The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga.
Location: All over Vava’u
8. China Town Dive Site
Many of Vava’u’s amazing natural attractions are, in fact, under the ocean’s surface. Discover a whole different side to Vava’u by scuba diving at some of the incredible and colourful dive sites of the group, such as China Town at Tu’ungasika Island. Here, you’ll discover some unusual coral formations that look like Chinese architecture – not to mention that they hold an array of mesmerising tropical marine life. Check out more dive sites worth having a scuba in the 10 Best Dive Sites in Vava’u.
Location: Tu’ungasika Island
9. Nuku Island
Vava’u is made up of around 50 islands, many of which are a great example of your picture-perfect paradise islands with white sandy beaches backed with swaying coconut palms. One such island is Nuku Island, not too far from Swallows Cave, which also makes it a popular stop for boat tours. Sit on its white sands, have a picnic and even snorkel around the island to spot eels in the sand.
Location: Nuku Island
10. Veimumuni Cave
Finally, an easy natural attraction to get to from the main island of Vava’u, ‘Utu Vava’u, Veimumuni Cave is on the coast of Toula village. Read about its legend and history at the entrance of the walkway before heading down to the cave’s entrance where you’ll find a freshwater pool. It makes for a refreshing dip!
Location: ‘Utu Vava’u, 3km (1.8 miles) south of Neiafu, clearly signposted around the village of Toula