"Tsunami Proof," And Rising; The Vava’u Island Group of Tonga - by Robert Bryce

Article for Wave

The Vava’u Island Group of Tonga must be a blessed place, protected from peril by uncanny design. While the recent tsunami from Samoa damaged both, the island group above (Niuatoputapu) and below Vava’u (Ha’apai), Vava’u’s hit went generally unnoticed.

There was a wave and it did strike Vava’u, but it was defanged and barred from entry as it hit the base of the 200 to 600-foot high protecting cliffs of Vava’u. This natural barrier serves to shelter Vava’u’s island and reef protected group of treasured islands within. The only evidence to indicate the wave struck Vava’u was at the base of the cliff where a dead shark was seen suspended in a tree 3 meters high - no lie. Some folks reported a few interesting water and current movements within the group. One resort’s floating dock transformed into a boat and mysteriously set sail for a brief period. One resident was up early watching for whales from her deck when the exiting water in the lagoon made that easier. She reported no whales in the lagoon that day and the water came back as controlled and smoothly as it left. This taming of the tsunami can be attributed to the reef dampener system installed at Vava’u’s inception. The design credit all goes to nature and/or God, as even scientists must agree.

It is the huge reef and island linked system that affords this unique wave protection of Vava’u. Matters not what feat of nature might drive the sea into looming waves, they are thwarted at the outer perimeter island’s sheer cliffs and at the reefs between. This exceptional wave whacker feature makes Vava’u popular with the cruising yachts who seek sheltered areas in the South Pacific to safely congregate and explore. Vava’u is also the perfect yacht charter location choice, as Moorings Corporation sailboat rentals indicate. A sailor’s wife’s delight, balmy trades and smooth sailing without the high seas. Even the native built small dugout canoes still traverse the sea within the Vava’u Group as they have for a couple thousand years now. Of course, the original settlers, the Humpback whales who reside here still seem to agree with the Vava’u choice, which says a lot more than any manmade study. The wise and worldly Humpbacks found this place first and it is we humans who copied them in the idea of safely hanging out in Vava’u’s warm and placid waters.

Rising seas, Just a tease

While on the subject of variable seas, rising waters come to mind. In the deck of Vava’u’s special cards is another Ace. Tonga is rising from the sea, not sinking, as is the case with some of its South Pacific Island neighbors. Thusly, Vava’u is probably able to keep pace with any global warming rising water threats. That distinctive feature of Vava’u ever rising is attributable to where Vava’u is located, that being, Vava’u is on the up side, on top of where the subduction plates go under Vava’u that are constantly moving around the earth. "Upper crust" might be how to describe Vava’u, literally. Proof that Vava’u is on the “up and up” is the fact that it has evidential coral reefs on its mountains, or large hills for those who know what a real mountain is. Nevertheless, since its inception, where Vava’u peeped its head out of the sea, it has been rising and with a net gain of hundreds of feet up, not down. More to the point; this fact is just another of Vava’u’s remarkable collection of reasons to invest and reside in Tonga.

Where else on earth can you acquire waterfront property that is not only appreciating in value, but in size too?

Which brings us to another rising opportunity, available in November

The 800-acre island of Vava’u-Hunga, with its high-sea fending 200-foot cliffs on its seaward side has been selected to develop as a residential community dubbed Cocomo Village, "That’s where we want to go." as the Beach boy’s popular song directs. This large island in the Vava’u Island Group is just 7 miles from the main island and has seventy-one of its acres set aside for the community of "Cocomo" to grow. Every site is waterfront with most of them facing the inside of the island group, away from the higher cliffs of the seaward side.

You don’t have to officially retire to live like a retiree here in Cocomo. The smallest income from any source goes a long way at Cocomo. People have been living wonderfully comfortable on this island for many hundreds of years and nary a one had a real job. That phenomenon is possible where utilities are essentially free via solar, and water is free from catchment, and all the food you can eat grows either in your own garden or the Cocomo community garden, and fish are free from the sea. No need for a TV, (optional satellite TV for the hopelessly hooked) since your replacement screen is that incredible scene from your verandah. There will be plenty of good neighbors too, all with something in common with you; they all made it to paradise and maybe timely as the really serious wave (economic) hits our homelands. As I write this, the US Dollar is accelerating downwards. It may be better to invest them in something rock solid now, while they still have value. The concept of trading small stacks of potentially useless paper for huge pieces of appreciating land shouldn’t be a difficult decision.

The best news is these home sites are only $3850 each, plus the annual tax/fee for living there is just $348 USD, less than $1 per day. There are no hidden costs, and then you are ready to build. Even building can be more economical than you might expect. Consider some alternative housing. The remarkable "earth bag" home made from cement bags of Tongan clay, then plastered over such that no one would know those thick walls weren’t solid concrete. Solid they are since this is how they make bulletproof bunkers and waterproof levies and dykes. These houses cost under $10,000 USD, as the Internet webs proclaim.

Some folks are going native with the famous grass hut style. Others speak of kit or prefab homes available from nearby New Zealand. In any event, the main town on the main island has all the building materials you would need to build most any home. The requirement is they must be tidy and within what regulation Tonga has for such. The barge can bring materials out to the island for less than the cost of a bottle of Louis the XIII. The choice is yours at Cocomo. Freedom is the keyword here. Lots of it.

For more information on Tonga, just ask Robert at: tongaproperty@yahoo.com

"Tsunami Proof," And Rising; The Vava’u Island Group of Tonga - by Robert Bryce