Things You Can’t Miss in Vava’u!
Vava’u, pronounced “vah-VA-ooh”, is a group of 61 islands in Tonga. They are islands rich in culture, where Tonga’s crops are grown, and where the waters are scattered with idyllic islands. The waters between these islands provide safe shelter for yachts, reef systems and humpback whales. Needless to say, most of the action is out on the water in Vava’u, but there are also a few reasons to keep your feet on dry land. Check out the experiences you can’t miss in this list of must-dos in Vava’u.
While you’re here, you might also be interested in The Complete Guide to Vava’u.
1. Swim with Whales
Let’s start with the obvious, the things that most people come to Vava’u to do – swim with humpback whales. Vava’u is one of the only places in the world where you can legally swim with humpback whales, which is available when the whales mate and calve in Vava’u’s waters between July and October. Whale swimming tours involve spending the day finding whales, seeing if the whales are Ok with the boat, then swimmers can join the whales in the water and snorkel with these gentle giants. Check out some of our recommended whale swimming operators in the 10 Best Whale Swim Tours in Vava’u.
2. Go on a Boat Trip to Swallows’ Cave, Mariner’s Cave and Coral Gardens
Vava’u’s must-see natural attractions are out on the sheltered waters between the 61 islands of the island group. Highlights include the huge Swallows’ Cave with its amazing geological features and a huge school of fish residing in the safe waters. Mariner’s Cave is an interesting choice for strong and confident snorkellers who can dive through the cave entrance. There are also some sensational snorkelling spots, like the Japanese Coral Gardens. See some of the boat tours taking you out to these locations in the 10 Best Boat Tours of Vava’u.
3. Scuba Dive in a Tropical Underwater Haven
Yes, more water activities, and this time it is scuba diving! Whether you’re looking for the perfect place to learn or are an experienced diver looking for your next underwater discovery, Vava’u has trips and dive centres to suit. Dive to shipwrecks, through tunnels, caves, over hard and soft coral reefs, to drop-offs and swim-throughs, all of which are teeming with life and offer unmatched visibility. Check out who can take you diving in the 7 Best Scuba Diving Tours in Vava’u.
4. Tour the ‘Ene’io Botanical Gardens
A reason to keep your feet on dry land, the ‘Ene’io Botanical Gardens is a collection of weird and wonderful tropical plants and trees put together by the former Director for Agriculture and Forestry, Haniteli Fa’anunu. He offers garden tours, lunches at the restaurant, a sweeping beach with a beach swimming pool, as well as cultural tours with cultural demonstrations. If you’re struggling for things to do on a Sunday, why not try their Sunday Tongan feast? See more activities like this in the 7 Things to Do in Vava’u for Foodies.
5. Get Out on a Kayak
Pretty much all of the beachfront resorts in Vava’u have complimentary kayak hire, which is a great way to explore the coast and see marine life through the clear waters. Take your kayaking to the next level with the Friendly Islands Kayak Company, offering full-day to multi-day excursions. Island-hop each day, visiting remote villages and staying in glorious island campsites (or resorts depending on which package you choose). See more activities like this in the 10 Romantic Activities in Vava’u for Couples.
6. Do Some Sailing
You don’t have to have your own yacht to see what it’s like to sail the best sailing grounds of the South Pacific. From relaxed day sails to full sailing holidays, there’s a range of yachting experiences in Vava’u. You’ll experience gliding across the tranquil waters, stopping by snorkelling hotspots, casting a line to see if you can catch lunch, and anchoring up in a new secluded cove each evening. Some sailing operators are even certified for whale swimming in the right season. See The Best Tours for Sailing in Vava’u for more information.
7. Fish for Marlin and GT
Any serious angler will probably already know of Vava’u’s reputation for sports and game fishing. While mahimahi, wahoo and yellowfin tuna are all on the cards, Vava’u is most famous for its blue marlin and giant trevally! There are more than 10 fishing charters available with all of the set-up for an exciting and hopefully successful day or half-day out on the water. Find out more in the 10 Best Fishing Charters in Vava’u.
8. Tour the Main Islands of Vava’u
Vava’u has a few features on land well worth checking out too. Either visit the highlights by hiring a car or take a guided tour of Vava’u with the advantage of local insights and getting down the rough dirt roads. Guided land tours will take you around the main islands of Vava’u, like ‘Utu Vava’u (the main island), Pangaimotu, ‘Utungake, Okoa and Koloa Island, which are all connected by causeways. Guided tours will take you to see historical sites, breathtaking lookouts, visit schools, women’s weaving groups, and more. Check out the tours available in the 5 Best Guided Tours of Vava’u.
9. Eat, Shop and Experience Neiafu
Neiafu is the second-largest town in Tonga and the main town of Vava’u. It’s worth spending at least half a day exploring the town and its attractions. Visit the Neiafu Market to browse impressive handicrafts and buy tropical and healthy snacks. Take a tour of the Vava’u Pearl Centre or shop for unique arts and crafts at the Langafonua Handicraft Shop, VA Connect Craft Shop or Leonati Arts. Eat lunch at one of Neiafu’s international restaurants, then walk it off by climbing up Mt Talau.
10. Go to a Sunday Church Service
Finally, when it inevitably gets to Sunday and all of Tonga’s activities and shops close, you could go where the locals go! Going to church is an integral part of the Tongan culture, where guests are welcome to join church services to listen to the beautiful harmonious singing. While going to any church in Vava’u is an experience, a popular choice for visitors is the grand St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Neiafu. Sunday services start at 10am.