Diving Vava'u - Diving in Vava'u Islands, Tonga, South Pacific

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Diving Vava'u Islands  Vava'u: 18°41' 60 S 174°1' 60 W

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Activities in Vava'u Island Group, Tonga


Vavau has an abundance of different types of diving which can cater for all tastes. The water in vavau is some of the clearest in the world; it is also well known for its cave dives. Most dive operators can take you snorkeling as well.

At the bottom of this page there is a brief list of dive and snorkel sites if you have your own speed boat, launch or yacht...


Beluga Diving Ltd
Kingdom of Tonga
phone/fax + 676 70327
VHF Ch 09,
www.belugadivingvavau.com Phone and Fax (676) 70 327
or (676) 71 115
E-mail beluga@kalianet.to

Beluga Diving Ltd

Based at Fangafoa Marina just a five minute walk from the centre of Neiafu town, Beluga Diving offers a range of exciting dive tours and PADI dive courses, and now has a Whale Watch license . The 34 foot aluminium catamaran boat, "MV Gladiator and MadMax", is also available for charter, and sea kayaks for rental.


Here are some commonly dived and snorkelled sites in Vava’u and Ha’apai. Remember the nearest recompression chamber is Auckland or Fiji – dive within your limits and knowledge, or dive with one of the experienced dive operators in the region.

Credit: SV Soggypaws and SV Bella Via for this excellent summary – if you wish to add to the information please email me greg@vavau.to

Rather than blundering around unknown prospective sites, with unknown current, wave and wind conditions, the professional operations can take you right to good sites for the prevailing conditions, that match your interests and your experience level. They can also take you to sites that are otherwise impossible or impractical to reach from a yacht or dinghy. To minimize costs, we have found it possible to get a group of divers together (like 4-6 divers from several boats), and then approach the dive operators for a 'package deal'. This often can shave significant dollars off the published cost of a single dive trip, as they can afford to give a discount if they are assured of a full dive boat. This works especially well in low-volume places like Tonga, or the off-season anywhere.

Other Dive Advice: For cruisers looking for diving and snorkeling spots in Tonga, you should have a copy of the cruising guide Sailingbird Guide to the Kingdom of Tonga. (available in Vava'u at the Megapode book shop near the Moorings base in Neiafu, or online from Amazon.com). This book not only covers anchorages like a typical cruising guide, but also denotes the best dive and snorkel areas, with little icons on the chartlets.

Dive Sites in the Vava'u Group of Tonga

Jump to Ha'apai Sites

Below is a list of the most popular dive sites in the Vava'u area of Tonga, many of which are accessible by cruising boats.

Click here to view in Google Maps


Site Name




Clan MacWilliam



400' Wreck in Neiafu Harbor 80-120 feet

Swallows Cave



Nice cave for diving or snorkeling, near the Kapa/Port Maurelle anchorages




Just across the way from Swallows Cave

Sea Fans



East side of Tu'ungasika Island, in the North Shore area

Split Rock



NW side of Tu'ungasika Island, in the North Shore area

China Gardens



North side of Tu'ungasika Island, in the North Shore area

Fotula Rock



North Shore area

White Patch



North Shore area

North Shore



North Shore area




North Shore area

Caddy Shack



North east tip of Hunga Island

Shark Tooth



On the north tip of Kitu Island

The Gap



North tip of Nuapupu Island

Mariner's Cave



Northwest side of Nuapupu Island

Coral Gardens

18°42.971'S 18°43.396'S


West of Vaka'eitu (Anchorage 16). Beautiful reef and wall in 8'-50'

Langito'o Island Reef



South East of Vaka'eitu (Anchorage 16). Nice reef in 5'-45'

The Pagodas


174°05.044 W
174°04.911 W

South East of Vaka'eitu (Anchorage 16). Nice coral structures in 10'-60'

Ovaka Wall




Ovaka's Coral Canyons



Beach dive at the west end of Ovaka, in a coral area

The Nursery



Near Euakafa, Anchorage 32

Blue Coral



Near Euakafa, Anchorage 32

Little Knob



Near Tapana, Anchorage 11. Coral mound.

Snorkelling and Dive Sites near Lape Island, Vava’u, Tonga

Site Names and GPS Positions
By Paul Major, s/v Bella Via

The Corel Garden – 18° 42.798’ S, 174° 06.160’ W
The Coral Wonder – 18° 43.765’ S, 174° 05.397’ W
The Coral Canyons – 18° 43.342’ S, 174° 06.305’ W
Lua Tofua’a (Whale Reef) – 18° 43.983’ S, 174° 05.067’ W

The Corel Garden – 18° 42.798’ S, 174° 06.160’ W
This is the reef that extends from the shores of Nuapapu to the north and Vaka Eitu to the south. It is the western side (seaward side) of this reef that is most interesting and colourful. The eastern side is shallow and not very interesting. The challenge is to get to the western side from the anchorages located at Lape Island and Vaka Eitu. One strategy is to dinghy to the northern tip of Vaka Eitu where there is a sandy beach for landing the dinghy. One must still walk or swim approximately 20 metres and through some surf, across the reef, depending on the state of the tide, to get to the western side of the reef. It is possible to cross the reef in a dinghy with the outboard motor fully down, 2 hours either side of high tide. When attempting this, one must time your crossing of the reef during a lull in the waves that usually break on the reef.

The Coral Wonder – 18° 43.765’ S, 174° 05.397’ W
This reef extends from the eastern edge of Vaka Eitu to Langito’o Island (aka Langitau Island). It is the southern side of this reef that is most interesting. This area is much easier to get to and is, in the opinion of many, as good a snorkel if not better than the Coral Garden. Access the area by dinghying around Langito’o from the anchorages at Vaka Eitu or Lape Island. Like the Coral Garden it is possible to cross this reef 2 hours either side of high tide with a dinghy outboard motor down. From Lape Island, cross the reef hugging close to Langito’o Island, then look to the southwest for a small bay in the coral. Use the narrow entrance to this bay in the reef to get through the breakers that occur across the reef when a westerly swell is running. PLEASE take extreme caution to anchor in one of the bare locations so that none of the coral is damaged in this very small area. The best snorkelling in this area is to the south of the reef bay previously mentioned. This area features a few giant sheets of flat table top like coral, many varieties of soft coral, feather coral and “Spotty”, a large, “Many Spotted Sweetlip”. Spotty is a yellow fish with black polka-dots. He lives just around the southern point of the reef as you start to head east.

The Coral Canyons – 18° 43.342’ S, 174° 06.305’ W
These coral formations extend the length of the shallow bight that forms the western shore of Vaka Eitu. From the steep rocky shoreline there are fingers of coral which extend from the shore to seaward then drop steeply from the surface to depths of 20 meters. The water is always clearer here than any of the other nearby snorkelling sites. The clear water, the canyons of coral and the steep drop off make for a panoramic view not to be missed. The steep coral face dropping to a depth of 20+ meters makes this a good SCUBA dive as well as a good snorkel site. Access this area by crossing the Coral Garden by dinghy up to 2 hours before high tide. Time your snorkel so that you can get back across the Coral Garden within 2 hours after high tide. This leaves a 4 hour window for the snorkel. The alternative is a long, often rough, dinghy ride all the way around the southern and eastern sides of Vaka Eitu and Langito’o Island (aka Langitau I.) to get back to the anchorages in Vaka Eitu or Lape Island.

Lua Tofua’a (Whale Reef) – 18° 43.983’ S, 174° 05.067’ W
This “lua” (under water reef), located 0.2 nm SSE of Longito’o Island (aka Langitau I) is easily reached by dingy from the Lape or Vaka Eitu anchorages at any state of the tide. Anchor the dinghy in approximately 3 to 8 metres of water on any of the bare spots located in the centre of the reef. The depth over the reef ranges from 2 to 8 metres, the depth around the reef ranges from 14 to 25 meters, making this another interesting Scuba dive site. This site offers a few large coral formations and the occasional big fish - amberjack, rock cod and maori wrasse have been seen here.

Download a Google Earth KML File for these sites
(Right click link and 'save as' to your desktop)
Download an OpenCPN gpx File for these sites

Dive Sites in the Ha'apai Group of Tonga

We didn't spend nearly as much time diving in the Ha'apai as we did Vava'u. But below are the sites we know about from our own dive experiences, and from others (friends and internet sources). (and as of May 2012, we are still compiling our Ha'apai info)

Map Coming Soon for Ha'apai

Each site is linked to a page with detailed info about access, dive profile, and pictures.

Site Name





Fins n Flukes

Fins n Flukes

A nice detached coral reef in 10-80 feet, west of Lifuka. Diveable in fairly strong east winds.

Mariner's Patch

Fins n Flukes

Fins n Flukes

High profile coral area. Lots of fish life, nudibranchs, and an anchor from the Port au Prince. Near Lifuka.