Source: TCS World Travel
Malo e lelei –
Today, we are going to be discussing the background of Vava’u, and will take a closer look at what the Kingdom of Tonga has to offer for those seeking independence, adventure, and relaxation.
Located in the South Pacific, The Kingdom of Tonga is East of Fiji; Vava’u is the Northern archipelago of 62 islands (per vavau.to, 176 islands in Tonga). A good mental picture of the waterways in Vava’u is well presented in a passage from Sailingbird’s Tonga Guide (download for FREE here, and like South Pacific Sea Adventures on Facebook):
“On average for every nautical mile a vessel travels, in any direction – there are 4.8 picturesque islands.”
When I first started doing research on Vava’u, I came across vavau.to. This site is a plethora of great information, ranging from history of the island group to places to get wifi. You can never have too many of these kinds of sites when doing international research, and the poetic descriptions of the priceless scenery doesn’t hurt:
“Remote and truly unspoiled, the waters around Vava’u are crystal clear with visibility exceeding 100 feet…There is abundant sea life with over 100 species of colourful fish, giant clams, manta rays, sea turtles, spinner dolphins, and July-October, the humpback whales!”
Vava’u has all of the island activities imaginable: sailing, diving, hiking, exploration, swimming, wildlife watching, and lots of feasts. With a near-perfect climate, summer clothes can be sported all year round. Grab a light jacket at sunset before leaving for that bonfire/kava (traditional drink in Tonga) party. The police do not carry guns, major worldwide corporations are nowhere to be seen, and a garden full of food can be grown with ease, due to the geographic location and fertile soil.
Vava’u was one of the last territories ‘discovered’ by European explorers (in 1781), and still to this day, many know little about this hidden paradise. In a Consumer’s society, it’s no wonder that such a remote, Mcdonalds-less place has slipped under the radar for many years. But not everyone can embrace this frontier to its purest – I have chatted with many expats who either have lived or currently reside in Vava’u, and many have complaints on the lack of consumer-friendly amenities.
There have been complaints about the WiFi not being up to par with modern speeds, the high prices of importing/shipping, and the lack of real roads/travel conveniences (among many others). If one/many of these complains are truly something that would distract you from the beautiful lessons Tonga has to teach you, then the remote island lifestyle may not be for you. When adjusting to this new life, there will be many challenges that you will face: the unavailability of dairy products, the lack of jobs (obviously isn’t crediting self-employment, online work, freelance, owning a business, etc.), and the lack of cellphone towers. You have two options when pursing a goal like this; you can either adapt to the changes and challenges that come your way (such as the ones listed above), or you can give up and go back to the rat race. Many have told me that this is a naive or poor way to view the move, due to the many factors of such a change – there are billions of different perspectives on the world and our lives, and this is mine: adaptation is a wonderful trait that humans have had for many-a-time. The modern world tends to limit our adaptation capabilities by giving us the comfortable conveniences, and we now view simple adaption opportunities as hardships/hassles. Yes, it is true that we have grown up in the buzz of technology and marvelous advancements, but I do not think that these conveniences are completely essential to living a life of happiness (obviously not all of these creations are negative/useless). In fact, I believe that many of these amenities have made life more complicated, lonely, and numb.
Source: Nevers Endeavors
We choose to restart our lives in Vava’u because we are seeking a simpler, less-inflated lifestyle. It is challenging in the US to live completely off the grid, and to sustain your family off of the land. In Vava’u, our goal is to build a completely sufficient homestead, this meaning that we grow our own food, build our own furniture, and make our living independently. This may seem like a tall idea to those whom are unfamiliar with the idea of true off-the-grid living, but that does not automatically qualify it as impossible. As before mentioned, my father is about to leave to fulfill his life-long dream of living in the near-wilderness of Alaska, completely off-the-grid and self-sustainable. All throughout his life, people have told him that what he dreams of is near impossible, too primitive, and/or naive. He has taught me this: any goal is achievable if well planned, very well researched, and sought after with all your being. Whatever sacrifices you have to make to have this goal become a reality, make them. Do not set expectations too high! It will be a challenge to build a home in the South Pacific, and the idea of a job is still a seemingly essential part of life; but get over these speed bumps and a few more, and you’re living the life that once was in your head (used as a way of passing time or coping with melancholia).
I N C O N C L U S I O N
Vava’u has a beautifully warm climate, with some of the most fertile soil for vanilla and pineapple growing (as well as most tropical plants). When visiting or adjusting to the new move, you can go sailing, diving, swimming, snorkeling, whale swim/watch, bird watching, sea kayaking, surfing, horseback riding, exploring, and feasting. With the ideal climate, environment, and activities, creating a sustainable homestead here is everything but impossible! Below is a short gallery of activities in Vava’u, with proper links, locations, and props in the descriptions:
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