Euaiki, Tonga

A typical tropical island in the South Pacific should have white sand, coconut palms, a calm turquoise sea and coral reefs reaching to the shore. Eueiki has all that. The 19-hectare (48-acre) island is one of the Vava’u island group of Tonga and is privately owned, with a small resort. Eueiki is made of limestone laid down by marine life thousands of years ago and later uplifted. Take a walk from the island’s beach to the shade of the island’s interior. Listen for birds. The names of the Polynesian Triller and the Tongan Whistler (a Vava’u endemic) give away their identity. The ‘coos’ are made by fruit-eating Pacific Pigeons or Purple-capped Fruit-doves. Screeches identify Tongan (Insular) Flying Foxes. Fascinating to watch, these large bats are sacred and protected by the King of Tonga. Coral reefs provide great snorkelling, with clear waters giving excellent views of the diverse corals and fish.

Healthy corals are mostly green, brown and occasionally blue due to the algae that lives in the flesh of the skeleton-making coral polyps. It is the texture and shapes of the coral that make them fascinating. Some are soft and some are hard. Growth forms include shrubby, finger, plate, massive (round domes) and branched. Small reef fish linger on the reef, none more so than the anemonefish. Small groups of these orange, white, and sometimes black, banded fish find protection amongst the tentacles of sea anemones. Anemonefish are nicknamed Nemos after the Finding Nemo movie. Find Nemo in the word anemone.

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