What do you say when you leave one group of islands that have registered top of the A-List, only to discover the next group far surpasses?
Having departed the Vavau group in northern Tonga on a high, we sailed south to the Ha’apai Islands, Tonga’s central group. Every island we visit looks like it has been prepared for a photo shoot. Not one island pales to its neighbor, sitting quietly amongst swaying coconut palms and dense green foliage, fringed with white sand beaches and dotted by coral reef. What makes these isles so unique is the paucity of other sailboats, the fine white sand clear of any other footprints, the pristine reefs uncrowded by masked intruders, the friendliness of the locals, and the quaintness of the villages. When considering each subsequent island we visit in Tonga, I wonder just how far we will climb on this staircase to paradise.