Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kenutu: Tonga's Easternmost Island

On one of our trips to the outer anchorages in the Vava'u Group, we visited the easternmost island of Kenutu. This anchorage is less frequently visited than some of the other anchorages, because you have to navigate through a maze of coral reefs in order to get there.

Approaching Kenutu and Lolo
We kept a bow lookout for coral heads, but found that the approach wasn't too difficult. We were fortunate in that we visited Kenutu just after a period of rough weather, and we had the anchorage all to ourselves the first night we were there. We were joined by one more boat on each of the subsequent two nights, so that the maximum number of boats in the anchorage while we were there was three. 

The anchorage along the west side of Kenutu is situated along a chain of islands (Kenutu being only one of several) separated by passes through which the ocean dramatically crashes over the reef at high tide. At low tide, a series of tidepools set in terraces are exposed. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular, and the entire setting is very peaceful and relaxing.

Pass between Omuna and Kenutu

Surf crashing on the reef

A noddy nods off on Silhouette's bow pulpit


Pass at sunset
We ventured ashore to explore the island and attempt to find the ridge trail on the eastern edge of the island. 

Kenutu Island

We found the trail (entrance near the southern end of Kenutu Island) without much difficulty and quickly crossed the narrow island to its east side. Here, the trail forked, so we ended up taking both forks in order to see the most territory we could. The east coast of Kenutu appealed to both Patrick and I. I think the rugged coastline reminded us a little bit of the coast at home in the Pacific Northwest.

There were rocky coves and blowholes. 

Rocky cove on Kenutu's east side

The Pacific ocean meets Kenutu

Tidepools on a rocky headland

There were weathered trees and wood, reminiscent of Big Sur. 

Pine grove on the ridge

Wood as a wave

There was nautical flotsam.

Derelict buoys

Another rocky cove along the way

But of course Kenutu's east coast had a tropical twist. There were living coral reefs just offshore...

You can see the coral heads just under the ocean's surface

....and pandanus groves thrived in the red volcanic soil. 

Pandanus trees

Dry volcanic soil

Patrick in the pandanus grove

After exploring the east side, we came back over the island and checked out the pass between Umuna and Kenutu at low tide. 

Silhouette at anchor as seen from Kenutu

Tidepools on the reef

Brittle star legs peeking out of rocky crevices

Kirsten in the tidepools...some things never change!

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