Mapu'a 'a Vaca Blowholes at Houma, Tonga: travertine patterns & translucent turquoise

Selected for Google Maps and Google Earth

Comments (8)

Ian Stehbens on July 18, 2008

The Blowholes at Houma on Tonga's SW coast are truly spectacular. For 5 kilmetres along the coast, the reef platform has been raised, and as the waves arrive at this coast the rising wave pushes water up through numerous holes in the reef platform creating a stunning spectacle. And as the wave rises closer the fury of ejected water pushes jets up to 10M in the air, then almost immediately this is followed by the wave crest slamming the reef face and creating a vertical wall of water that makes a whiteout for a photographer. This wall of water can be more than 15M high. Then just remember as you marvel at this majestic display that it continues for 5km along the coast.

And what a privilege just to stand in awe.

But there's more yet. The water that has been spilt on the reef platform then must flow as backwash returning to the ocean, and as it does the play of water on the coralline surface has created marvellous travertine patterns. With a sediment free Pacific here, the water is translucent turquoise and the foam brilliant white.

To the awe, the power and majesty add colour, variety and mood.

Antonietta * on July 19, 2008

Great and explicite comment Ian The sea does expectacular things. Thanks for sharing, greetings!

Ian Stehbens on July 19, 2008

Thank you very much Antonietta. It is awesome, and especially here, the colour and the jets add so much drama. Glad I can share it with you.

In friendship,


Antonietta * on July 19, 2008


Marilyn Whiteley on July 19, 2008

What a spectacular sight this stretch of coastline must be! And your series captures it very well. Thank you for taking us with you!


Ian Stehbens on July 19, 2008


The good news is that there is no climbing or hard walking to see this. One simply stands in the carpark, or strolls along the foreshore. And I am sure you can imagine that there were many photos taken that afternoon of such a dynamic coast. Thanks for appreciating the photos and the experience. I was "receiving" the display, that afternoon.


© SisAnnick on July 20, 2008

Dear brother ian, sorry for late visit to your gallery (a few days of vacation and I miss a lot of messages) it seems that you did a wonderful trip to Tonga and pacific islands; this view is fantastic and your explamnations so sharp! thanks a lot, yours friendly Annick

Ian Stehbens on July 20, 2008

Dear Annick,

One day you will be able to browse through the many different galleries that you have taken a very real interest, dear Sister. For now, it is sufficient just to upload the new pictures and to enjoy your family and work responsibilities, now that you are refreshed by your travels. So I am honoured that you have deliberately looked at some of my pictures and commented so affirmatively. Tonga was another special experience for me.

My warmest wishes,


Sign up to comment. Sign in if you already did it.

Photo details

  • Uploaded on July 18, 2008
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Ian Stehbens