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HOTEL REVIEW: Sea Change Eco Retreat

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Visiting Tonga’s Ha’apai Islands, I stayed at the remote island of Uoleva. The island had just a few properties on it, including Sea Change Eco Retreat.

Here is my review of the resort as published on Captured Travel.

For a truly off the grid experience in Tonga, Sea Change Eco Retreat is the place to stay.

Don’t think that off the grid and eco retreat means roughing it though, as Sea Change manages to find that balance between being one with your natural surroundings without losing that touch of luxury.

With the lightest possible footprint, Sea Change is perfectly formed as an idyllic escape for up to 12 guests at any one time – giving you an almost deserted island paradise to chill out and recharge your batteries. 

Managed full time by Becky and Mahe Pepa, who combine extensive experience in hospitality management with Tongan culture, you will really feel like a local when staying at Sea Change.

One of the main draw cards for Sea Change is that the whale swimming boat leaves right from the very beach you stay on. Companies like Majestic Whale Encounters use Sea Change as their base for this very reason.

Hotel

Sea Change Eco Retreat is located on the remote island of Uoleva in the Ha’apai Island group in the Kingdom of Tonga. It is located approximately 165 kms northeast of the main island of Tongatapu, which you can reach by taking a 30-minute flight to Ha’apai and short boat trip to the island. There is a main building where the bar, dinning and general meeting place is. It is here you will meet to go out to swim with the whales, discuss your day, eat meals and general just relax and soak up the atmosphere. There are secluded spots along the beach to sit on chairs or beanbags and a few hammocks scattered around. It is an eco-retreat so guests are asked to make minimal impact on the environment.

Rooms

There are 6 fales (Tongan for house) with a choice of either “glamping” style safari tent fales on elevated platforms with queen sized beds on frames, or the larger luxury fales which have a queen size bed with the addition of either one or two long single beds. Don’t think glamping means you will be uncomfortable though, as the mattresses and linen are high quality and provide a very restful night. Each fale sits at the end of a tranquil pathway through a coconut tree forest and is well spaced from the other, providing an absolute sense of privacy and peacefulness. There is shower and toilet in your private bathroom equipped with eco-friendly shampoo, conditioner and soap. The toilet is a sawdust drop toilet but it is cleaned regularly so there is no need to worry about any smell.

Dining

You can purchase a meal package which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menus offer a wide range of food which focuses on fresh produce, meats and fish available in Tonga. Dinner normally consists of a selection of mains which include beef, chicken, fish and vegetarian options, followed by dessert. If you happen to be there at the right time, you can enjoy a traditional Tongan feast night. Daily continental breakfasts include fresh fruit (including coconut from our very own trees), cereals, toast, coffee, tea and juice. Lunches are a mix of lovely salads, pasta, sandwiches and snacks, which can also be enjoyed in a packed lunch if you are out for the day on the boat whale swimming. Last of all, the bar features amazing daily cocktails, lovely wines, spirits and a selection of local and foreign beers.  

Sea Change Eco Retreat in pictures

Kate Webster
Kate Webster
Kate Webster is a world traveller, ocean lover and conservation warrior who is determined to make every moment count for not only herself, but the world around her. An editor and travel journalist, Kate travels the globe in search of vivid imagery and compelling stories that capture the essence of the people and places she visits. She is a passionate conservation advocate, sustainable traveller and always travels with reason and cause. Born out of a life-long love of travel, the ocean, wildlife and conservation and fascination with the world around her, is Kate’s inspiration behind her writing and photography.