We have been to the anchorage off Foa Island several times now.  Darren and Nina at Matafonua Lodge have been very welcoming.  Matafonua Resort has 10 fales, pronounced “falays”, (sleeping huts) with shared bathroom facilities.

The setting is quite beautiful with a large lagoon on the eastern side of the island and white sand beaches.

Whistler has often been alone in the anchorage.

Even pretty on cloudy days!

Anchored with just 2 metres under the keel, we can see our anchor and chain when it is calm. Monty was cleaning the hull and some squid were hanging out.

Our Canadian inflatable SUPs are nice to have on board.

On calm days, which seem infrequent, we go paddle-boarding through the pass and around the lagoon.

The lagoon is full of coral bommies and fire coral which can poke through the surface on low-low tides.

Eel in a bommie (shot taken from above the surface while paddling)

Paddling close to the outer reef

On another calm day, we got together with S/V Tika and S/V Starry Horizons and snorkelled the passes between the islands near the anchorage.

Anemonefish (also called clownfish) chasing us away from the bulb tentacle sea anemone.  We saw different varieties of clownfish, with one, two and three stripes.

Giant clam

Some type of box fish

Mushroom coral surrounded by soft leather corals

Greer from S/V Tika swimming with the shark

Russell from Tika laying on the bottom with the leopard shark

There were many ways to enjoy the anchorage. We admired the family of four from Tika for wind-surfing almost every day, after home-schooling.

The resort offers a variety of activities which are often fully booked as it is now high season.  We went out for a dive with them back in June and again in July.  The coral was not that healthy due to cyclone damage but there were lots of fish.

Monty on the dive boat

Monty with Grant, the diver instructor, and a couple other guests

The restaurant at Matafonua has excellent pizzas, hamburgers, breakfasts and a great selection of beers.  Their dinners are often sold out so we generally have lunch when we need a break from our own cooking on board.  It is a nice convenience to have such good food available while at anchor in the Ha’apai.

Darren and Nina recently bought the Sandy Beach Resort, located just a few hundred metres from Matafonua.  It has 12 fales, each with its own bathroom.  The menu is targeted at finer dining.  Darren hired a French chef for this resort. We have enjoyed a  couple “sundowners” from their deck and had a nice dinner there with Amy and David (Starry Horizons). One of the big advantages of the resort is its sunset view.

Amy and David from Starry Horizons at the Sandy Beach Resort

We got together a couple times with Starry Horizons and Tika who were anchored with us for about a week.  One night, Tika got us all playing a dictionary game.  We had lots of laughs!

The crew from Tika and Whistler with Amy and David on Starry Horizons (Photo by Amy Alton)

The main reason guests from around the world flocked to Matafonua and Sandy Beach is for swimming with the humpback whales.  We booked to go out for a whale swim.

Margy and Monty ready to drop into the sea.

Monty (left) and Margy (turquoise arm) swimming toward some whales

The boat has a maximum of 8 guests.  They are broken into two groups.  Each group swims with a guide and is limited in how long we can spend with a whale.  The groups alternate swimming with the whales.  After 90 minutes with the whales, we must leave to give the whales at least 90 minutes rest time.  If there is a mom and calf, the calf can feed and the family can spend time alone.

A group swimming with a whale.

Calf resting on top its mom with the escort swimming below.

We spent about 15 minutes with this group before we turned them over to the other guest-group. It was magical! My waterproof camera’s battery was dead, so I had to rely on my old GoPro.  I have some video, but haven’t gotten to editing yet.

Double breaching whales (wish the shot was taken with my DSLR!)

If you want to see more about the whaleswimming, go to matafonua.com or their Instagram account.

Next soon, more about the Ha’apai and the main reason we are here at Foa Island – yes, for the kiting!