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As there is no hope for resurrection of the domestic airline, many travelers are considering the old (t)rusty, irregular and crowded ferries to get away from Tonga's big smoke. Seas can be very rough and the rides are not always a pleasure. My idea was to get to the Ha'apai group to enjoy some unspoiled beaches and go snorkeling. Just a day before I wanted to take the boat, I heard that the overcrowded ferry ran into a reef and doesn't go anywhere! Well, this was clear enough for me to decide to go to 'Eua, an island that is only 2 1/2h away and has more frequent boat service. And that was a good decision!


Eua is a gem just southeast of Tongatapu. There is still plenty of rain forest with giant trees, flowing water, lots of hiking tracks, caves, parrots and other tropical birds. Features that are not to be found anywhere else in Tonga. On the west coast there are also some very beautiful beaches with crystal clear, shallow water. Beyond the reef there is the possibility for swimming, but the currents are sometimes very strong, the swell unpredictable and the corals very sharp. This is a really interesting spot for scuba divers. The water is warm, very clear and there are many under water caves.




I arranged some accommodation in advance, as I didn't want to get there and find that everything was booked out. The voice on the other side of the line was very friendly, telling me that there is no problem and that the captain of the boat is her husband. That in deed sounds very promising as I already heard lots of stories about the boat ride. I arrive early at the wharf and I watch the boat slowly filling with cargo and people. I am surprised to see a big palette of bricks disappearing in the hull of the boat, than another one and even a few more... That must be very heavy! A few boxes follow and several baskets with things that are probably hard to find on the island. At last when the last passengers squeeze in through the cargo door I see to my amazement that even the heavy forklift is embarking... the back door closes, there is no escape!



The trip goes quite well. For 1 1/2h we travel through the protected lagoon and the last hour we rock and roll on the 2-3m swell into the small anchorage of 'Eua. Just before we get to the island I see some flying fishes, that is pretty cool! They have 2 pairs of fins that act as wings taking them for remarkable 50-60m rides above the water. That looks very unreal. From July to August there is the whale season, where the big humpbacks can be seen in close reach to the ferry. That must be an awesome sight as they are twice the size of the boat.



On the western side of 'Eua is the only safe harbour. From here all the villages can be accessed on a small tar-sealed road.



The arrival of the boat is always a big event and there is lots going on. Somewhere in the crowd of people I hear a voice calling my name, that must be Taina, whom I talked to this morning. I can immediately feel that this is a nice atmosphere and a good place to be.



Most of the transport is on top of a pickup. That's totally fine as long as it doesn't pour down with rain.



There are also some cars with seats. Many vehicles are rusting away in the salty humid air. Many cars have broken windscreens, it seems to be difficult to find spare parts here.



My home at Taina's is right at the edge of the bush and close to the National Park, some 6km away from the wharf. It is a very peaceful and quiet spot and the background noises are dominated by sounds of the birds.



This is my guest family Taina, Louisa, Christene and Taina's husband Tei. Taina speaks fluently German as she lived in Germany for 17 years. Today is Sunday and we all go to the Church of Tonga.



Tei rings the bell , an old gas bottle with a metal rod. The sound is very harsh, because it is metal on metal.



The mellow sounds of the wooden drum are probably gone for good.



In the churches people come together to sing. They sing with a tremendous voice that shakes the thin walls of the building. The priest is doing this service on Sundays and spends his mundane time as a practitioner of traditional message. Taina's mother is a medicine woman. She knows many herbal recipes made from the forest plants. This shows me that the forest still has a very profound function here on 'Eua.



Although the low maintenance altar decoration is also appreciated...



After church I am invited to a tongan feast. Banana leaves are spread on the floor and tremendous amounts of delicious food is served. For the 25 guests there are about 8 roasted piglets, 20 lobsters, fried fish, Taro, Yam, fruit and lots of other delicious ingredients served. Although I did not understand much of the talk, I still enjoyed the atmosphere and I am very grateful that I could experience this celebration.


On the following page I will take you on a few hiking trips through the island.


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