Fafa Island, Tonga

Mar 17 - 19, 2001

 Our Travel Experience

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Tourist Info


Our Travel Experience

We had a miserable time on Fafa Island. Especially at night when we couldn't sleep. Our superior sunset fale made of coconut leaves was more like a tent than a hotel room. Tara figured that we'd "ease into" a bungalow on the beach for USD 10 per night, so she chose the resort that had the most expensive traditional beach bungalows. Big mistake in hindsight.
Fafa Island did have some things going for it: 
- a tiny island that you could walk around in 18 minutes 
- nice sand beaches with an abundance of pretty shells 
- clear, blue, warm ocean water 
- tropical birds wandering around 
- beautifully looking traditional bungalows 
(bungalows are called fales in Tongan) 
- spectacularly colored sunsets 
- a good view of the stars at night 
- interesting crabs living on the beach at night 
However,  for us the negatives far outweighed the positives: 
- the viciously aggressive mosquitos could not be kept at bay by mosquito netting or repellent 
- the resort didn't make an effort to ward off the mosquitos 
- the resort had run out of suntan lotion in their store and did not make an effort to ever buy more 
- we felt dirty the whole time were were there due to wearing mosquito repellent and (the first day) suntan lotion 
- the outside shower was swarming with mosquitos 
- the resort staff (with the exception of one bartender) was less than friendly 
- we were scared in our fale since we were not "within screaming distance of anyone else" 
- we had no electricity the first night and could hear some big animal munching on our coconut leaf walls 
- Seth had seen men with machete knives wandering around during the day and heard a boat passing by our beach multiple times that night 
- we had to walk back from dinner either on a creepy deserted beach of through a similarly creepy forest 
At one point, Tara commented that her mother could have just built us a hut of coconut leaves on Slocum Lake if we wanted to "camp out" and get eaten alive. Seth was actually inspired to compose some Haiku poems to express his experiences on Fafa Island:

When the mosquito netting was put down around the bed, it stopped the breeze as well as the mosquitos:

All day, every day on Fafa Island, we put on bug repellent and sunscreen (until we ran out). Thankfully, a nice Australian couple lent us their powerful bug repellent. We had almost bought some Bushman repellent in Australia since the guy at the camping store told us that America has a limit of 12% DEET whereas Australia allows up to 80%, but in the end we didn't. Thankfully we were able to use the strong Australian stuff in the end.
Eighty percent DEET 
Neosporin stops the itch 
Slimy all over 
Australian Bushman 
Lotion saves our hides from bugs 
Eats through plastic pen
Many skitterings 
Mosquitos ants and others 
Nighttime not for sleep
Tara also started feeling poetic and wrote a haiku to remember the night when some animal was chewing on our hut.  
Most of our most enjoyable memories involve being on the beach and nowhere near our room. Unfortunately, the "superior beach bungalow...facing the ocean...a few steps away from your beach" that was advertised on their internet site was NOT on the beach. Our Sunset bungalow was situated in a heavily vegetated area set back from the beach. The description of "traditional Tongan building style...walls made from coconut leaves, the roof is covered with wooden shingles" also sounds nice until you actually realize that you are given no lock for your door and do not feel secure that you or your belongings are secure. 

It was amazing to think though that our walls were once coconut palm leaves. It is not hard to realize why the Tongan people today choose not to live in traditional houses! 

It is a good thing that neither one of us is scared of animals or bugs. We actually liked many mutant geckos in our hut. We called them "mutant geckos" because they were significantly larger than the geckos we'd seen other places. We figure this is due to their huge diet of mosquitos here on Fafa Island. There were many other animals on Fafa besides the geckos that we liked. Periodically, a small hen-colored bird would come wandering through our yard. Also at breakfast, a brightly colored blue bird would come up to our table - probably in the hope of getting a snack! Our favorite animals on the island were probably the sand crabs that we spied on the beach at night. In hindsight, it's a good thing that we were familiar with what sand crabs looked like - otherwise one of us might have screamed the morning that we woke up and had a sand crab hanging from the mosquito netting above our heads!
We did enjoy the beach on Fafa Island. On our first day we walked all around the island and collected numerous shells. We found both very large shells as well as numerous small shells. We did have to check every single shell to make sure that it was not already occupied.

There were numerous photo ops as we walked around the island just because the golden sand, palm trees, blue water and puffy clouds made for picture-perfect images.
Sunsets from the beach were also enjoyable since they were brightly colored. One evening we drug our bungalow chairs out onto the beach to enjoy the sunset. As time passed, the colors in the sunset drastically changed. We ended up sitting and watching the sun set until it was completely dark outside. It was a good thing Tara had brought her flashlight.

After the sunset, we would head for dinner - spotting crabs along the way. Sitting at the only table that was open to the sky was a treat at dinner. We could look up at the sky while eating dinner and see the stars well enough to clearly see the Milky Way and various constellations. However, star watching on Fafa was not nearly as nice as star watching in Hana, Maui, Hawaii since we'd be eaten alive and scared to death if we would have taken a blanket outside and settled in to watch the stars. While at dinner, we did see both satellites and shooting stars. That was fun! Dinner itself was OK. There was only one night where the only choice was fish, so we opted to have curry and rice with no meat.

The walk back to our bungalow each night after dinner was terrifying - even with flashlights. We could never decide if the beach route or the bush route was less terrifying. The creepy walk home set the mood for returning to our unsecured hut. We were never offered a key to our hut, even though there was a lock on the door. Thus, when we got home, we had to check around the hut and make sure no one was lurking in it. This was especially hard the first night when we returned home and figured out that the electricity was not working. At least that was fixed after only one night!

Tara was able to sleep on Fafa Island, but she can sleep through anything. Seth had a rougher time. Read his Locomotion posts for the whole story!

Overall, Fafa was an idyllic looking paradise, where reality did not meet up to the initial visual image:

An excellent example is that we had a hammock in our yard. One day Tara settled into the hammock and read for about 30 minutes before getting up and asking Seth "Do I have any bites on my back? My back itches.". Seth took one look at Tara's back, counted no less than nine big mosquito bites and immediately went to get the antibiotic, pain relieving Neo Sporin cream.
Laying in the hammock LOOKED like it would be enjoyable. 
Unfortunately, the reality was very painful for Tara: 
As we were leaving Fafa, we met a nice German couple who were going into town since they also wanted suntan lotion and Fafa Island had run out. The woman's knees were bitten up so bad that we offered them our tube of Neo Sporin. Tara felt like her bites were nothing compared to the huge welts on the German woman's knees. Thank you again Australia for allowing 80% DEET in your bug repellent!

Category Rating Comments
Overall Experience
Ease of Journey
Accommodation 3 FaFa Island Resort - The Sunset fale was more like a campsite than a resort 
Coolness 8  
Tourist Info

We DO NOT recommend Fafa Island at http://www.kalianet.to/fafa/resort.htm

Incoming Flight:
17 March: Nadi to Tonga on Air Pacific 211 at 7am - economy seats 36A and 36B.
Outbound Flight:
24 March: Tonga to Nadi on Air Pacific 210 at 9pm - economy seats 29E nd 29F.

American Airlines reward ticket. Paid USD 95 total in processing fees for a return tickets since we did not book 21 days in