Tonga is one of those classic South Pacific nations where there are more palm trees, pelagics and pristine islands then you can poke a shaft at. Needless to say, the draw for a diver to take a spearfishing charter there is immense: tropical blue water, 50-80m visibility, fantastic reef fishing in the morning, world-class pelagics to chase for the rest of the day and a cosy, comfy resort to look forward to after a full day of wetsuit swamp. The gang, including Adreno Founder Tim Neilsen flew out of Sydney, to Tongatapu where we rendezvoused with the remaining divers and slept the night before boarding a ferry for the southern island of ‘Eua.
A typical afternoon, except you can't see the cold beer and sashimi.
We had such a good time this year that we decided to head back to Tonga in 2019! Check out all the info here.
Rob Torelli's Bluewater Explorer Team
We dived with Rob Torelli and his Bluewater Explorer Team, based in their resort which was a 10 minute drive from the harbour. I find it hard to put into words the respect I have since diving with the guides: Rob Torelli, Ben Spiessens and Rowen Verbickas. Their attention to detail, honest consideration of our own personal goals and stoked attitude made the trip all the more enjoyable. Thanks for letting us focus on the fun bits!
I learnt more about spearing on this trip than I have in the years leading up to and as much as I enjoyed the trip, improving and I’m not at all experienced in blue water but the guides were exceptional and gave us all the best chance at landing something decent.
From the get go we knew the potential was there but were thwarted by tumultuous south pacific seas but the size of the island made it easy to find shelter from the wind and swell.
Funnily enough, on the first day, when the weather was the worst, we found the calmest conditions right out the front and found some Wahoo and Doggies straight off the bat, during a slow drift over a rise that came up to about 30 meters.
Good things come to those who wait
Tim has been spearfishing for a few minutes, just long enough to earn himself an Australian Spearfishing title, but it took 25 years for him to get a shaft in a sailfish, let alone land one. The conditions at this particular zone were intense, there was swell running from 3 directions and the overcast sky meant the blue was purely blue, not a ray of light to be seen. All of this combined to create some hard diving conditions, with the majority of us feeling the queeze.
Species to Expect.
The water is pristine and the species are varied but you can expect to chase the usual suspects around the reefs in the morning before heading into the blue to chase pelagics. The area is renowned for Dogtooth, Sailfish, Wahoo, Yellowfin and the likes.
Want to come with us in 2019? Book here!
On a personal note, I’m a rookie and the last time I caught something that I would consider sizeable was a 4kg Mahi-Mahi and ended up with 2 surgeries. But it took only a day for me to get onto a Wahoo but before I was even sure I’d hit it, I felt the short-lived tug of my mono breaking, taking my shaft into the blue at a serious rate of knots!
Addled with frustration that I’d lost my shaff, I began teasing the flasher with a vengeance but my qualms were short lived when one of the guides, Rowan Virbickas (Team NZ Spearfisherman), yelled over to me say ‘I found your shaft’ which I found perplexing until I saw him pull the tail out of the water! Turns out the Wahoo died shortly after it's ear-piercing and was resting atop of the mound we were drifting over, thankfully Rowan could get down to 31m to bring my fish up! The stoke was undeniable.
The Tongan Spearfishing Curse
Tonga is immensely religious and their staunch respect of the Sunday rest day is not to be laughed at, unfortunately, the curse states that the best diving conditions fall on a Sunday, even though it was overcast. This tour was no different but Rob took us out to see landmarks entwined in Tonga’s somewhat mystical past.
To be honest, the forced rest was a blessing in disguise as it gave us time to rest and recover and dine on some of the finest pig. As much as I love eating prime fish, fresh caught that day, the pork was a welcome change.
Come with us in 2019!
We’re going back, that was never a question, but this year we’ve extended the trips out to 11 days and we’re doing a trip in July as well as October.
photos by Jacob Lambert