Skip to content

Cruisers Converge on Vava’u

We can’t think of a more beautiful place to stage a yacht race than within the Vava’u Group’s lush maze of islands.

© Adriana Bermeo

Among South Pacific cruisers, the Vava’u island group is the place to be this month. Not only is it the ideal end-of-season staging area for New Zealand-bound cruisers, but it is the site of the annual Regatta Vava’u — one of the most fun-filled cruiser events we’ve ever attended. 

The brainchild of former Bay Area sailors Ben and Lisa Newton, the October 17-21 event includes two semi-serious yacht races; a ‘fancy dress’ pub crawl to virtually every watering hole in Vava’u’s waterside capital, Neifu; a day of silly beach games; an extravagant (Almost) Full Moon Party; an awards ceremony and more. Representatives from a variety of New Zealand businesses will be in attendance all week too.    

You’ll meet all sorts of sailors at the Fancy Dress Pub Crawl – even the bearded variety.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

After adopting the cruising dream during a shoreside Hawaii vacation — they literally looked out at cruisers in the nearby anchorage and thought, "We could do that" — Ben and Lisa learned to sail, bought a boat and dove head-first into the cruising life. When they got to Tonga, they fell in love with its unspoiled natural beauty and decided to make it their new home. 

Since then, they’ve become great friends to the cruising community, and great ambassadors for the "Friendly Kingdom" of Tonga. The Vava’u Group has always been a preferred staging area of New Zealand-bound cruisers, who wait here for an ideal weather window to make the weeklong crossing to Kiwiland’s north island. 

Support of local school kids has always been a component of the regatta. Here they prove that some things are universal, such as doing the Hokey Pokey.

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

You may not be able to attend this year’s regatta, but we recommend you consider attending the next time you find yourself heading west across the South Pacific. 

Local dancers share their cultural traditions with the visiting sailors.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Leave a Comment