We had rented a cabin and were about to spend a week on an uninhabited island, Uoleva, in the Haap’ai Group of Tonga, an island all to ourselves with absolutely breathtaking white powder beaches (perfect for skinny dipping) and crystal clear turquoise water! There were no roads, no cars, no shops on the island.
As we flew over the islands of Tonga, the clear, blue atolls were amazing! We flew over island after island, atoll after atoll, with miles of white sand and the most brilliant sparkling emerald water surrounding each one. It was pure, natural and almost heavenly.
Our boat arrived to take us from the little dock in Pangaii town, on the main island of Lifuka, the Ha’apai Group, to the outer island of Uoleva. It seemed like a very small boat for going out on the ocean, and looked a bit rustic, to say the least, but the welcoming and nonchalant attitude of the driver and owner as they shuffled supplies around to make room for our luggage quickly dispelled any misgivings we had. Off we went across a piece of the ocean to our very own island oasis!
As our little wooden boat approached the island, we saw a dog and man standing on the empty beach waiting for us. There was not another soul visible along the wide expanse of the entire island. The air was soft and warm with the slightest ocean breeze. It was a perfect day.
Semi showed us to our cabin. We were pleasantly surprised at how modern and beautiful the cabin was, set all by itself on a continuous span of beach as far as the eye could see, with its back nestled into the jungle. Gorgeous!
We were prepared for something quite rustic, but made from rich Balinese wood, imported from Bali, a high open beam roof, a gauzy white canopy over the bed, a floating sink, big fluffy towels, this cabin had all the amenities of a fine resort hotel. We were quite amazed.
At the back of the cabin there was an open air bathroom and shower. Wow! We could shower outside in the middle of the jungle!
Of course, there was one big scare that came with that open air bathroom! Read about it here: http://travellittleknownplaces.com/how-to-overcom…ear-of-spiders/
But nothing could really spoil the delicious privacy we had with no people, no cars, no noise, no tourists, no rules… just peace, beauty and pure privacy.
To be pampered in such a natural, outdoor, unspoiled environment like this was the ultimate for us in a unique travel experience. I’d read about luxury African safaris that are like that, but I knew that they also have luxuriously high prices as well.
We spent a week on this uninhabited island – absolutely breathtaking with white beaches soft as icing sugar and crystal clear emerald blue water, all to ourselves…
In fact the only other residents, were the owners, on the opposite side of the island where they had a rich natural wood dining room/gazebo, and where they created our made-to-order meals each day. We paid $100 a day plus $30 a day per person for 3 freshly made meals, drinks and snacks.
Our view from the dining room was equally spectacular, and a dip in the ocean was lovely and refreshing.
In the evenings, Patty and Semi lit dozens of candles in the dining room creating a warm and romantic ambiance as we watched the sun set over the ocean in a pink and purple sky.
An island in the middle of the South Pacific gets very dark at night, and since we only had an ingenious wind-up light, it was just easiest to go to bed early and get up with the sun. Mornings were glorious and we would get ready (throw on a bathing suit and a wrap for me) and walk down a narrow windy path through the jungle to the other side of the island to the dining room for breakfast.
By the time we got back to our cabin, the bed was made, the floors spotless, and a fresh bowl of water was at the mat in front of the cabin to wash our sandy feet before going in. They seemed to think of everything!
Every day Semi would remove the solar lights from the jungle path to the dining room and set them on the beach, and every evening at dusk he would meticulously set them up again along the path.
One day, we looked out towards the water from the cabin, and I could have sworn a cow walked by just the other side of some bushes along the beach. T came to look. Sure enough two more cows wandered slowly by stopping to munch a bit of grass here and there.
Later Patti, the owner, told us some farmers from nearby islands sometimes graze their cows on Oeleva.
Patti also warned us that we should not be frightened or think we were being attacked by pirates the next morning, because some of the neighboring men were going out spear fishing overnight and would dock on our side of the island early in the morning.
“Will they spear fish, or lobster, or….”
“Lobster? You’d like lobster tomorrow for supper? I’ll tell the fishermen to spear some lobster too.”
“Oh no, I didn’t mean… I don’t want them to go to all that trouble.”
“It’s no trouble for them. It’s easy, really.” She chuckled.
Sure enough, about 6 am, the men pulled their small fishing boat in. I was astonished when two men emerged, then two more, and then another and another! We went out to watch them.
They didn’t speak much English but came up and showed us pail after pail of their night’s catch. Beautiful iridescent fish filled the pails, and I thought they looked too beautiful to eat!
And lobster? Yes indeed! Seven lobsters to be exact!
The fishermen disappeared into the jungle, but returned an hour later and ceremonially gifted us with a whole fish cooked in fresh coconut cream and presently on a huge banana leaf!
T said the fish was delicious, but unfortunately, I just could not eat fish for breakfast.
We were curious where the men cooked the fish, and after breakfast we wound down a different jungle path behind the dining room, and there they were, sprawled leisurely around an open camp fire cooking their fish. A woven palm leaf fale (house) was also nearby, and that is where they would sleep after being up all night spearing fish, freehand, by the way, no diving gear whatsoever.
I have to confess that the men were in fine shape, and that I couldn’t help myself when, armed with my camera as usual, I later spied one of the men on the boat having a bit of sponge bath. With the zoom on my camera, I could almost see…
Then he turned suddenly, pulling his towel around him and looking towards me as though he felt someone was watching him through the jungle. Surprised, I whipped the camera down and turned away with a giggle.
We had lobster for lunch and dinner that night, and lobster for lunch and dinner the next two nights too! But you can never have too much lobster! Every day, Semi, the chef, would ask us how we wanted our lobster served for the next meal. He came up with some great lobster extravaganzas!
But Semi had a bit of a fetish for “mayonaisa”, as he called it, and was terribly excited that he had discovered a new way to add flavour to any meat. “I did this with mayonaisa!”, he would exclaim. “I think you’ll like it!” In the end we were getting a bit tired of “mayonaisa”. But Semi was a very likable guy, and Patty was equally warm and friendly.
I could have slept and read in the hammock for hours and hours… so comfy, so lovely… to just gaze out over the blue lagoon and read my book, have a sip of my cool drink, gaze out over the blue lagoon, go for a swim, tease T about falling out of the hammock, and smile at my good fortune to be in such a perfect paradise!
Yes, T fell out of the hammock in Tonga, and I almost caught it on camera!!! But he was quick to hop back in and act as though nothing at all had happened.
For more information on this island and accommodation on stunning Uoleva Island, Tonga, contact Patty at : http://www.serenitybeaches.com/
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