Niuatoputapu Island - General Info

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ALERT: A large eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha-apai underwater volcano ocurred on 15 January 2022, causing a tsunami and ash fall in Tonga. The eruption was one of the biggest in Tonga in the past 30 years. See news item for details and useful links for further information.

Description:

This small island lying some 175 miles north of the main Tongan island group is a convenient port of entry into the Kingdom of Tonga for yachts arriving from the north.

Niuatoputapu Island suffered extensive damage following the 2009 Samoa earthquake and subsequent Tsunami. Approximately 192 families were left homeless. The Island now is recovering and comments from cruisers who have visited since about what supplies to bring to help the locals, can be found at the bottom of the page.

Entrance Notes and Cautions:

A small pass on the NW side of the island with a minimum depth of 12 ft leads through the reef. It is essential to line up the marks as the pass is very narrow. More markers lead to the anchorage area off the wharf.

Position:

15°55’29″S, 173°45’40″W (entrance to the pass)

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Niuatoputapu Island was last updated 6 years ago.

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  1. July 30, 2017 at 9:06 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    The entry to the pass is spot-on with the CM93 charts. You want good light to line up on the range and sight coral heads within the lagoon, but the pass itself is well-marked and comfortably large for the supply ship except in very high seas.

    The government offices have moved to bungalows just outside the High School in the middle village of Vaipoa, so turn up the driveway to the high school and you will come to them before entering the school grounds.

    Go there first, and the customs official will arrange for the others to meet at the dock to come to your boat. We found them very nice and not interested in searching our boat or confiscating anything, though officials rotate around the islands so you may meet others.

    In general, the people here are extremely friendly, and interested in the few boats that come each year. They seem to enjoy practicing their English, particularly the children, and everyone will wave and smile and call out “Bye Bye!”

    Thanks to donations from many governments, the villages have largely recovered from the 2009 tsunami, and are in the process of getting solar electricity. People still appreciate clothing, sewing supplies, fishing supplies and school supplies.

    Canned food is expensive here, so adding protein to the local diet is appreciated. If you ask to buy fruit people will give it, and you should be prepared to offer a gift to balance the social obligations.

    The reef is also recovering from the tsunami, and the best snorkeling is in the bight to the west of the pass. Though fish are not abundant (locals live off this reef), there is a large variety of fish and coral here.

    The shallows are dead, so snorkel at low tide when the deeper reef becomes more visible. The inner lagoon near the island is usually cloudy (not dirty, but not clear) and very warm, so we recommend snorkeling out where the clear water comes through from outside.

    Based on what we saw there, the outer reef should ve very healthy and interesting.
    Local boats fish for pelagics between Niuatoputapu and Tafahi, so they will ask for Mahi Mahi lures.