Neiafu is on the southern coast of Utu Vava'u, the principal island of the Vava'u archipelago in northern Tonga. With the opening of The BoatYard here in August/September 2015 - a brand new yacht haulage and hard stand facility - Tonga will now have facility for boats to haul out and stay during cyclone season.
Cafe Tropicana is now hosting an AIS Receiver on behalf on www.marinetraffic.com. Data can be seen on the website free.
Be aware that Vava'u has 3 FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices) on the reef south of Pangi.
In Neiafu VHF CH 26 is the cruisers' channel with booster aerials which allow you to use this channel throughout the Vava'u group. In season a cruiser's net operates at 0830 each morning.
Position: 18°39'28"S, 173° 58'59"W (anchorage)
Position 18°40'24"S, 174° 01'57"W (entrance channel)
When entering Tongan waters, fly the
On entering the harbour, if this is a first entry into Tonga, yachts should call Vava'u Radio on VHF 26. You may/may not receive a reply.
Berthing for Internalional Clearance
Do not tie to the main ferry pier (the one perpendicular to the shore) - the ship's vertical rubber fendering makes it impossible to fender a yacht. Go alongside the fisherman's pier just before it and in busy times be prepared to let fellow sailors raft up. You may be asked for a small fee for use of the pier that belongs to the fishermen.
Berthing Note: It is important you have your fenders high up on low tide (port side) as there is an overhanging edge which yachts with low freeboard could slide under. In strong winds blowing you onto the pier it can be difficult to get off. If you feel that docking here would be unwise, take a mooring buoy further inside the harbour and proceed directly to the officials who are usually understanding if you say it is dangerous.
Clearance for Domestic Clearance
If clearing to move to or arriving from another island group, it is permissible to anchor and dinghy ashore to visit the relevant offices.
International Inward Clearance
The Authorities will all come aboard, eventually. It could take four hours to complete the process. Fees will total about $130 (Tongan dollars) - ATMs are close by. Ensure you get government receipts.
Important Note: Some cruisers have been asked for alcohol or cigarettes by officials. Politely turn down such requests. Also see warning under docking about local named Alofi, who may approach you on arrival.
Departing Neiafu for another Island Group
Day sailing within the island groups is not restricted, but a Local Movement Report (Small Craft) is required when moving between groups served by customs offices (see Documents for details).
Any harbour dues should be paid prior to visiting Customs as the receipt needs to be shown to obtain the Local Movement Report. Go to Immigration first (no fee), and then the Port Captain to pay harbour fees (10 minute walk, road opposite Westpac heading north, fourth turn, end of tarred road, turn right, follow road, ministry of Infrastructure on right with major road working machinery). Customs by the main wharf must then be visited to obtain the Local Movement Report provided free on showing payment of Harbour dues.
There is no need to take you boat back to the fishing pier for a domestic check-out. On arrival at the next island group, one must contact Customs on arrival. When travelling between Nuku'alofa and Vava'u, or vice versa, one can request that the Local Movement Report includes Ha'apai if intending to stop in that island group.
Outward International Clearance
When leaving for a foreign port, you will need to clear out at the fishing pier where you arrived. Go to Immigration first, and then the Port Captain to pay harbour fees (see directions above). You then need to take your boat to the fishing pier and clear out with Customs. After Customs you are expected to leave immediately.
Boats are cleared between 08:30 and 16:30 Monday to Friday. They are closed for lunch, usually 12:30-13:30. Lunchtime, after-hours, and Saturday check-ins are available by special arrangement and for a fee.
If arriving after hours or at weekends and you prefer to wait until normal office opening times, boats are allowed to stay at anchor, flying the Q flag, but may not go ashore until clearance is completed.
Customs - at the Wharf
GPS coordinates: 18°39'7.04"S 173°59'4.18"W
Tel: +676 70053 or +676 70928, VHF Ch. 26
No fees during working hours inward/outward. $130 per hour Sat/Sun OVERTIME.
Immigration - at the Wharf
Tonga Development Bank - First Floor
GPS coordinates: 18°39'11.99"S 173°58'56.65"W
Tel: +676 70629 or +676 71443, VHF Ch. 26
No fees inward/outward except visa charges. $70 per hour Sat/Sun OVERTIME.
Marine and Ports - at the wharf
Ministry of Infrastructure compound
GPS coordinates: 18°38'57.61"S 173°58'43.86"W
Tel: +676 70100 +676 70657
Vava’u: Lights and buoys fee $0.45 per gross tonne per month. MUST be paid prior to Immigration and customs and clearing out!
Nuku’alofa: $2.45 per gross tonne per month (however, cruisers have reported being charged $4.32 per gross tonne plus 20% tax here).
Ministry of Health - Ngu Hospital
Tel: +676 70201 or 7584644. Emergency +676 111/911
$100 Practique plus rubbish charge, $100 per hour Sat/Sun OVERTIME.
The local radio net, VHF Ch. 26, 08:30, 7 days a week, will help provide useful information, run by various local marine operators.
Last updated March 2016.
When entering the Harbour call Marine and Ports (Harbourmaster/Customs) on VHF Ch. 26.
Neiafu harbour is very well protected and experiences fewer cyclones than Fiji and there are several operators who rent cyclone moorings for that season which conform to insurance standards. Some will also provide an excellent, reliable caretaker service.
Yachts can hire moorings on both sides of Neiafu Harbour. Remember that all the moorings belong to someone, so request permission before picking one up and enquire about strength for your size of boat. Many are not properly marked. Don't try to just pick up a mooring without clearing in, the officials watch carefully.
Moorings can be rented from Aquarium Café, Beluga Diving or Moorings for approx T$15 per night. Weekly or monthly rates can be arranged. All moorings are marked. When secure, call the company on their designated channel (marked on the mooring). Moorings (Charter company) own most of the moorings and are making these available for private yachts, moving their own boats elsewhere. They’ve also changed their service model to provide water, fuel by jerry cans and a new laundry.
In the outer anchorages, the moorings in Hunga (anchorage #13) belong to Ika Lahi (CH 71); in Tapana (anchorage #11) belong to The Ark/Tapana (CH 10) and in Mounu (anchorage #41) belong to Mounu (CH 77).
The following anchorages (#6, #7, #8, #19, #32 and Maninita) have moorings put down to protect the coral and are free to pick up but donations are expected to help maintenance & placement of future moorings (receipts given at Tonga Visitors Bureau, cafe Tropicana, Aquarium and Moorings). Maintenance of these moorings is questionable so be sure to check.
If you choose to anchor instead, it is important that you do so far enough away from any moorings. On the western-side there are some good anchor spots toward the north. On the eastern-side there is plenty of room more to the south. Anchorage space can be a problem close to town because of deep water, except where most moorings are located.
Neiafu has one bad apple, a local call Alofi. It is recommended you refuse all services offered by Alofi. Read report here.
The owners of the Cafe Tropicana (see below) are Port Officers for the OCC, NZ ICA (Island Cruising Association) and the SSCA. There is a TransOcean Cruising Club Port Captain – Elki and Verner - based in Hunga on VHF 26.
Last updated September 2014.
Port of Refuge (Vava'u) Yacht Club is located at the Mango Cafe.