Sandy Beach Resort reminds me of a matryoshka or babushka doll set that has a doll inside a doll, inside a doll. Only this time you go from an island, to a slightly smaller island, to another smaller island until you get to the prize - Sandy Beach Resort - a world away from traffic, smog, loud music and dramas.
There are daily 45-minute flights (except Sundays) between Nuku'alofa and Ha'apai. Then it's only a 10 minute ride, across a small bridge to the island of Foa to reach this small resort in the sun.
There's only 12 beachfront fales, so you don't have to worry about crowds. The construction is solid yet simple with tiled floors, spacious bathrooms, solar warm water shower, a comfortable bed and huge shaded verandah to watch the sunset. ..and where you can use the free WiFi internet to remind friends back home that they should have come along.
If you show any of your friends your photos, they will think you photo-shopped them as the colors have to be seen to be believed. Incredible blue/green waters with snorkeling spots right in front of your fales. And Nemo is not the only visitor to these waters - if you visit July-October you can swim with Humpback whales too! Scuba dive trips can also be arranged.
There is complimentary use of bicycles and kayaks and canoes, plus free guided bush and reef walks. If you want to go horseback riding there is an extra cost. It will be guided and please note that it's bareback only.
They have a good restaurant too, with a choice of a la carte or purchasing a meal plan. Here you can listen to classical music as the sun sets over the nearby volcanic islands of Tofua and Kao. An interesting historical fact - The Mutiny on the Bounty (1789) took place about 30 nautical miles from Tofua.
Sandy Beach is my favorite place in Ha'apai. It could be yours too!
It's only about 20 minutes by boat off shore from Tongatapu but Fafa Island Resort still has that great outer island feeling. The resort boat collects you from the landing after the taxi drops you off which makes everything so easy. One small boat ride for man, one giant leap into empty beaches and turquoise waters with coral gardens.
And don't worry about crowds! There are only 14 fales (bungalows) on the island - built far apart from each other to ensure utmost privacy. They are all steps from the beach and constructed in tradition style with local materials and an semi-open air bathroom with the shower in a private flower garden providing an Adam and Eve experience.
All fales have a ceiling fan, refrigerator, a hammock and beach beds. The Superior category have a king size bed or twin beds. I prefer the Deluxe fales which are much larger in size and more exclusive than the Superior ones. They have a big platform with a king size bed. Three of the Deluxe fales have an extra building connected with the main building by a large veranda. This building contains an extra room with 2 beds, a walk in wardrobe and a semi open bathroom, perfectly suitable for families with children or friends traveling together providing adequate privacy.
The Deluxe Honeymoon Fale is my personal favorite built on one of the most beautiful locations on the island.
There's a daily changing menu prepared from fresh products from the local market. You may choose between eating a la carte and a meal plan. The open-air cocktail bar offers a wide range of beers, wines and tropical cocktails. Once a week there is a BBQ with local and international specialties followed by a cultural show, with traditional Tongan and Polynesian dances.
If you are planning a vacation to an outer island in the Kingdom of Tonga, it would be wise to consider spending your last night on the mainland in case the domestic airline has a schedule change or cancellation causing you to miss your international flight home.
There's quite a selection of properties and one that stands out in my mind is Little Italy Hotel and Restaurant, Nuku'alofa. It opened in July 2008 with only 22 rooms and is within easy walking distance to the Royal Palace, Talamahu Market, Langafonua Gallery & Handicrafts Centre, Cafe and just 2 minute's drive to downtown Nuku'alofa.
All of the Ocean View rooms private balcony, air-Conditioning, coffee & tea maker, Refrigerator, FREE wireless internet access, cable T.V, In-Room Safe, Hair dryer, Iron & Ironing board, daily room service.
With it's great restaurant serving pasta, lobster, steak, a selection of Italian wines and 27 different types of pizza, it's the place to be! TRAVEL TIP: There's no charge for late check out at 2:00pm to 5:00pm.
When I am on vacation I like to consider my shoes and watch as excess baggage and prefer to do what I like, when I like. This of course can backfire if you get up at the crack of noon looking for a simple breakfast when the hotel chefs are dishing out their luncheon culinary creations.
To my rescue comes Mystic Sands Beachfront Bungalows which consists of four western style units located right on the beach in Vava'u. All rooms have a mini kitchen complete with fridge/freezer, microwave, toaster, coffee plunger and a two burner cook top and whilst there's no restaurant on site, they can arrange for breakfast or dinner for a fee. Advance notice (1 day) is required for this. I love the communal BBQ which is excellent for preparing the locally purchased lobster. Yum!
If you don't feel like cooking, the 'Tongan Beach Resort' is just a short walk up the beach, serving three excellent meals per day, and with a comfortable bar/lounge. Or you can take a 10 minute drive into town, with it's 15 restaurants to choose from. Taxis, scooters and rental cars are available.
This little property has its own pier for pick up to go diving, whale watching, sailing or sports-fishing. Swimming, snorkeling and reef walking are all part of the experience. Kayaks are provided complimentary too.
Mystic Sands offers a great place to stay in the mid price range, is suitable for families or couples, and also for small group bookings (maximum 16 persons).
Its taken a few trips to Tonga over the years to observe the growth in the tourism industry and to see an increase in the quality of accommodation levels. I am delighted to say that upscale visitors now have a match to their discerning tastes. First on the wishlist is location, location, location.. and the Reef Resort on a tranquil island in beautiful Vava'u has just that. It's far enough away from Neiafu, Vava'u's main town, to feel like an island hideaway, yet is conveniently close to town and the airport for shopping and transfers. The nearest airport is about 10 miles away and the total transfer time is 30-40 minutes by car and boat.
Second on the wishlist is quality of accommodation, and you wont be disappointed here either. The resort has four stunning bungalows (fales) each with air conditioning, private decks, walk-in showers, tea/coffee making facilities, refrigerator and the most amazing sea views.
Food and beverage requirements is number three. Again a winner! The restaurant is right on the beach and has panoramic views of the turquoise sea and neighbouring forested islands. The menu changes daily and offers the best in local and international cuisine. The bar stocks a range of imported beers and spirits and the wine list boasts fine wines from around the world.
And last but not least, are the activities on offer which rounds out a perfect score. The crystal clear waters provide brilliant snorkeling and one of the best snorkeling spots in Vava'u, the Japanese Gardens, is just off the beach. Kayaks and snorkeling gear are available for guest's use. The famous Swallows Cave can be accessed from the resort by kayak and Port Maurelle, a tranquil bay and safe anchorage is only a short walk away. In addition, each fale has a music system for connection to an iPod or MP3 player and has WiFi internet access.