History

Vava’u is believed to have been settled for around 2000 years. The capital, Neiafu, looks out onto Port of Refuge, christened by Spaniard Don Francisco Antonio Mourelle, who sighted Vava’u on 4 March 1781 en route from Manila to Mexico. Mourelle claimed the new-found paradise, one of the last South Pacific island groups to be contacted by Europeans, for mother Spain. Captain Cook missed it a decade earlier when the Ha’apai islanders convinced him that there were no safe anchorages north of Ha’apai (ha-ha, Ha'apai).

William Mariner spent time here during Finau ‘Ulukala I of Ha’apai’s conquest of Vava’u in 1808. Later, on the death of ‘Ulukala III, King George Tupou I added Vava’u to his realm when he formed a united Tonga in 1845.