Introducing Vava'u Group
To really experience Vava'u, you have to get out on the water. Picturesque at every turn, stunning, uncrowded stretches of white sand appear like the swathe of an artist's brush skimming through an aquamarine palette before plunging into an inky blue abyss.
Regarded as one of the world's great sailing locations, this tranquil island group is fringed with vibrant coral reefs, offering myriad channels, deep waterways and secluded anchorages, along with one of the South Pacific's most protected harbours, the Port of Refuge. On other islands, sheer basalt cliffs drop 30m into the water, some pock-marked by caves accessible only via boat, or in the case of concealed Mariner's Cave, by diving beneath the water's surface.
The many protected coves and caverns provide exquisite diving sites, and there are plenty of vibrant heads of coral immersed in a tropical fish soup to explore. Sea-kayaking, mountain biking, bushwalking, impressive game-fishing, surfing and even abseiling into caves are possible here. Uniqueness joins beauty in the humpback breeding season, when dedicated whale-watching outfits organise swims with these awe-inspiring giants.
Neiafu is home to a third of Vava'u's people - along with restaurants, bars and a Friday yacht race - and is the only place with any bustle. On Sundays the town is empty and quiet, aside from the uplifting singing emanating from churches. Outside Neiafu, the rest of the population live among emerald hills in villages scattered across 50-odd thickly wooded islands.
Of course, if all the available activities sound a bit too energetic, there are always the beaches at various eclectic island resorts, perfect for lazing in the sun, dabbling in a bit of snorkelling and soaking up the sublime views.