It is a treat to have an uninhabited tropical island to ourselves. Telekitonga is one of the eastern barrier islands, located 15 miles northeast of Kelefesia and 60 miles north of Tongatapu. Similar to windward islands in the Ha’apai Group, it is low-lying and fringed by reefs. A sandy beach lines the shore and palms trees sway above the dense jungle-like forest.

Whistler anchored off Telekitonga
Just over a kilometre long, Telekitonga is the southernmost island of the Otu Tolu Group with Lalona and Telekivavau to the north.
Our anchorage (blue marker) off Telekitonga.

Though the island is mentioned in a cruising guide, the anchoring waypoints were wisely labelled “Approximate”! The charts were not very accurate and had little detail so finding a safe place to anchor was up to us. With good light, eyes on the bow and the satellite map, we found a sandy spot to drop the hook with reasonable swing room. Monty swam to check that the anchor was well set. As routine, we programmed our “anchor watch” and alarm on the AIS in case we dragged.

Looking northeast
Looking southeast
The sound of the waves breaking to port and starboard was somewhat unique for us.
We would never risk an anchorage like this in anything but very calm conditions.

We paddled into shore with our boards as coral along the beach looked unwelcoming for the dinghy. Surf rolling into the beach made the landing a little challenging. We set off walking south and around to the windward side of the island.

This island was covered in palm and pandanus trees.

Tongan women use the pandanus leaves for weaving a variety of Tongan handicrafts like mats, bowls and traditional Tongan woven skirts, known as tapenu, or sashes called kiekie and ta’ovala. The leaves are first bleached by hanging them in the ocean and then dried in the sun.

Examples of Tongan woven baskets made from pandanus leaves.

It is always interesting, and saddening, to see what has washed up on the windward side of the islands. Several fishing floats, plastic, styrofoam, flip-flops and a stove had found a home on Telekitonga. A half dozen of these plastic tubes were noted. We have seen them on other beaches and wonder what was carried in them and why they end up littering these beautiful beaches. If anyone has an idea, please let us know.

The windward side with the fringing reef protecting the lagoon.
Monty in a staring contest with a crab. Thousands of crabs lived on the island. When they heard us coming, they would scamper into the ocean or quickly dig a hole and hide.
Standing at attention, maybe hoping I won’t notice him.
Hermit crab festival! Was it a shell swap?
Black tip sharks were patrolling the lagoon.
This is likely a “FAD” (Fish Attraction Device) that broke loose from its mooring.
Northern end of Telekitonga
A little concerned about the wet rocks ahead. The tide was coming in, so it was not going to get any better. We bushwhacked into the jungle-like woods and found a way passed to more sand-lined beach.
Still a ways to go to get back to our paddleboards and boat. The island is just over 1 kilometre long, but it seemed much larger.
It was heavy going at times, sinking down in the soft sand. We wished we could turn around and walk the other way to balance out the workout on our muscles and joints!
Sunset from Telekitonga

We were fortunate to have settled conditions and be able to safely visit Telekitonga. The solitude and the sound of the waves near the boat made it memorable. However, a southwest swell rolled in over the southern fringing reefs at high tide, crashing against our hulls and causing Whistler to rock. It was not our most comfortable night at anchor. With the forecast for the southerly swell to build, we decided we needed to leave this idyllic piece of paradise and find a more protected anchorage.