Tonga: Vava'u Travel Photography — Part 4: People of Tonga

Tongan sister carries her baby brother up the long steep hill
Tongans are friendly and generally open to photography themselves.  As I wandered all around the islands in search of unique experiences, I met many Tongans.  I'd hold my camera up and ask if it was OK to take their photo and most said it was.  I had a few refuse, but most were happy to smile and typically went on with their own business. 
tonga man in Vava'u riding a bike
This man was a pastor at one of the island churches. 
He rode his bike to service on Sunday.  Many Tongans
are dressed elaborately for Sundays.
tongan women in green and pink dresses in Vava'u
Tongan women dressed for church
Dugout canoe in Vava'u Tonga sailed by 4 boys
Four Tongan Boys in a Dugout Canoe
traditional tongan clothes worn by young man walking
Walking on Tonga to Sunday Service
In the middle of our trip we were invited to a Tongan Feast on the island of Vakaeitu.  Vakaeitu has only one family living on the island so this was an authentic family affair.  The marlin was caught that day and brought in by everybody who could lend a hand.  After the feast, the family played music and danced for us too.  It was wonderful!
6 men carry a heavy marlin fish to tongan feast on vakaeitu
Marlin carried by 6 men to a Tongan Feast
vava'u tongan feast with music and dancing.
Dancing by Flashlight on the Beach at Tongan Feast

Tonga: Vava'u Landscape Photography — Part Three: Sunrise and Sunset

Tonga sunrise in Vava'u with puffy clouds
Cottonball Clouds at Sunrise:  They Floated over the Islands
Sunrise or sunset at the ocean is a fabulous life experience.  The golden hour light enhances any prime landscape location and a trip to Tonga is included.  The morning clouds were a little of everything during my trip:  overcast and grey, bland blue skies and partly cloudy.  The partly cloudy skies are the best for photography as the clouds take on various hues of the rainbow and contrast well with the clear areas. 
My lead photo was taken at the end of the trip when unusually tall clouds floated over the islands like marshmallows or cotton balls.  They were beautiful and seemed like moving islands themselves. 
The low angle of light also catches on the boats nearby for better yacht photos too.
Vava'u sailboat at Kapa Island at sunset
Sailboats at the Golden Hour:  a sure-fire successful photo
Nude woman showers on sailboat in Vava'u Tonga
Morning light catching an anchored sailboat
I had better sunsets than sunrises.  I can't say if Tonga is always that way but such was my experience.  I had purples skies one night, orange another and some grey clouds on others.  My orange sunset happened at Port Maurelle and the colors extended far on to the distant western isles.  I shot this sunset with my longest lens and later stitched some panoramas together.  Please enjoy.
Vava'u Sunset with orange skies
A'a Island silhouette as seen from Kapa at Sunset
Peaceful Tongan sunset with orange clouds and Island silhouettes
Port Maurelle Sunset:  Looking West

Tonga: Vava'u Landscape Photography — Part Two: Jungle

Hunga Tonga Mangrove photograph
Mangrove Jungle at Low Tide:  a transient photo opportunity
This post we're leaving the beautiful beaches and diving headlong into the jungles of Vava'u.  Plenty of photo opportunities with natural and cultural charm await the jungle trekker.

Hunga is a dirt-poor island with very nice residents who wave, smile, come out and talk and make a wonderful friendly impression.  We stayed in the inner bay of Hunga one rainy night  At low tide, the mangrove jungle becomes walkable.  I sauntered in and around many jungle plants looking for the right composition.  Here are two of my favorites.
hunga tonga mangroves picture
Mangrove branches reach out like a parasite!
Inland on Hunga we had a wonderful time with the people but I also enjoyed photographing all the pigs here.  They wander openly around.  Most pigs on other islands are wary of people but the Hunga pigs seem to not fear or flee.
many pigs gathered together on Hunga, Tonga
Pigs of Hunga, Tonga
Kenutu is a fantastic anchorage with a legitimate jungle to explore.  Hiking from the western bay to the other side of the island takes about 10 or 15 minutes.  The path is strewn with plenty of branches but nothing too much to duck under or step over.  On the eastern side are the jagged volcanic cliffs and the open Pacific Ocean.  It's spectacular to see!
trail picture of Kenutu, Vava'u Tonga
Typical trail conditions on Kenutu:  those long green leaves
have small points on them that scratched my legs up a bit.
Blue waters of a bay on Kenutu Island, Tonga
Kenutu Eastern Cliffs:  Big Cliffs and Sharp Rocks.  There is a trail
running around to the far side of this bay.  
bonsai tree on Kenutu island
I call this the Bonsai Tree and it was on the eastern cliffs of Kenutu.
3-leafed green vines in Tonga
Detail/Macro shots are available here in this remote Eden.
Here I found the various shades of green quite beautiful.
Kenutu, Tonga Jungle scene
Another twisted tree in Tonga.
One of the absolutely weirdest things I saw in Tonga is this tower of sticks and poles located here.  It's been around a long time (because it's been reported to exist in other internet accounts of this hike) and I don't know its' origin.  It's pretty unstable but my wife climbed up a bit in it.  Here's a panorama shot that shows how it stands over the cliffs and how spectacular the view really is!
Kenutu Tonga cliffs over the blue ocean
Kenutu Cliffs and House of Sticks!  The views are epic!
Jungle and Ocean meeting together.
Tonga is a place where the ocean literally meets the jungle.