In a stroke of luck we arrived in Vava'u with two weeks of on and off good kiting wind so we were able to kite at all three locations.
Background: We kited in August-September 2014 and were using 3mm wetsuits. On grey days when the wind was up we even brought a thermos of hot tea to the beach. Of course, we’ve been living in the tropics for years and are acclimated to more heat than when we left Canada! While we usually use Google’s cache of satellite imagery to pull from for offline use with SAS Planet, but we used SAS to pull from BIng here because the pictures were better and so that is where the following links will take you. All locations are the launch spot not the anchorage.
Sandbar near Kenutu (S18°42'35.04" W173°56'32.36"). This was by far our favorite kite spot in Vava’u for a number of reasons. A small sand island and bar covered at high tide but otherwise usable with a great, relatively obstacle free line in almost any wind directions and plenty of room to get blown downwind for learners. A little choppier near high tide if the winds are honking and if the ocean swell is up it can add a bit to the chop only at high tide. The sand bar is a mile from land and so has unobstructed wind from almost any direction. Plus, the anchorage at nearby Kenutu Island is excellent in strong trade conditions. It can be a little gusty but it stays fairly flat, no fetch can build, and the island has a great beach and a great hike to the ocean side views.
The only downside is that the kite island is about 1nm from the anchorage. Depending on your dinghy/outboard combination this could be a deal breaker. We found it wet but doable and well worth it. One day we saw a resort boat bring a kiter to this island for a downwinder somewhere so that might be an option for fly in visitors.
Taunga sandbar (S18°45'12.89" W174°00'37.19"). Taunga’s sandbar connects to the island south of it. If the wind is too far South there is a wind shadow at the launch spot which you have to fight out of but it is short and then you are in unobstructed wind even in SSE winds. In ESE conditions the upwind side of the bar is excellent – no shadow, no coral, good wind and a huge section of water to play in. It can be a bit lumpy here but wasn’t as lumpy as what we experienced at Mounu (below). We haven’t kited in solid E or ENE conditions which are what you would need for unobstructed wind on the flat water side. Looking forward to trying that because that side of the bar looks excellent.
The most beautiful anchorage in Taunga is on the windy side which is unfortunate because in non windy conditions it is idyllic. Great sand, great holding and nice depths for anchoring. During strong trades the fetch becomes quite uncomfortable (we can vouch for that) and if we go again for kiting wind we’ll try anchoring on the marked anchorage on the W side of the island.
Mounu Island (S18°45'07.05" W174°04'06.69"). This is a resort so if you were flying into Tonga this would be an attractive option. It looked fancy, so pocket book dependent. The daughter of the owners is a kiteboarder but wasn’t at home when we were there. We introduced ourselves to the owners and asked permission to launch from the southwest side of their beach which they granted right away. There is some reef downwind of the launch spot but after that it is obstacle free and a good spot for learners as it starts shallow enough to stand in but eventually becomes deep and clear downwind of the main kite area.
Lots of good reasons to come here and we will probably stop by again if nearby but we found the spot to be quite choppy and the anchorage to also be in the line of the fetch and so can’t say that it is our favorite. The anchorage around the corner at Avalau (sometimes Ovalau depending on the chart) was gorgeous so you could move back around there for the evening and have a small beach fire below the high tide line (so they sea can wash away the traces of it).
We were first tipped off to these three kite spots by SV Starship. Thanks guys!