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Best beaches embedded with cyclone Harold “shrapnel”

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Tropical Cyclone Harold took the "Boathouse" fale and the land it stood on. Kanokupolu Beach, Tongatapu, 9 April 2020. Photo: Shane Egan.
Tongatapu's best beaches along the Sunset Coast, remain deeply embedded with the shrapnel-like remains of resort buildings ravaged by the “unbelievable power” of Severe Tropical Cyclone Harold's storm surge on Thursday.

“We cannot hope to market this now as the premier beach on Tongatapu,” said Shane Egan, owner of the Blue Banana Beach House that was destroyed by powerful seas on Thursday morning.

While resort owners face a massive task in cleaning up their properties, Shane said that recovery efforts would be pointless unless a major operation is undertaken “to remove the shrapnel from the beach before the next tourist season.”

Shane said that the Blue Banana Beach House “copped it”.

“We are all thankful just to be alive,” he said while trying to get their home functioning over Easter.

“Lost the three front fales and the waves crashed through and around the back of our house and the two storey fale and the shop and museum and laundry block.

The waves carrying huge boulders and broken tree debris smashed into the resorts “then carried out fridges and washing machines and whatever else wasn't bolted down,” he said.

TC Harold destroyed beachfront fales at the Blue Banana Beach House, Kanokupolu, Tongatapu, 9 April 2020. Photo: Shane Egan.

Powerful tide

“Unbelievable power. We could never have imagined the waves reaching this far up our sloping property. Our respect for the ocean has gone off the scale. We lost about a quarter acre of land at the front.”

Shane said their home and the other block buildings are still structurally sound but much clean-up and repairs were needed before they can open any kind of business.

“The wind wasn't an issue but the sea was unprecedented.

“We had five stranded Europeans staying with us but I moved them to our house and the upstairs fale. All are safe but would be a different story if they stayed in the beachfront fales.”


The resort has developed small Ha'a Fonu -Tonga Maritime Museum and art shop, which was smashed open by the surge.

“Everything inside smashed and mixed with mud and garden debris.

“I've found most of the museum collection and mostly on good order. Some pieces were outside and jammed under the decking. The whole deck was lifted and parts of trees rammed underneath. Two of the supporting poles for the awning were snapped off,” said Shane.


He hoped that the beach would somehow be cleaned up so that the tourism properties can redevelop.

Shane also urged redevelopers to consider moving properties back behind the tree lines and to stop the constructions out onto the public beaches, so that the aesthetic qualities of the beautiful beaches might be restored.

Debris embedded on Kanokupolu Beach, after Severe Tropical Cyclone Harold. Tongatapu, 9 April 2020. Photo: Shane Egan.

See also, Severe Tropical Cyclone Harold:
TC Harold demolishes Sunset Coast beach resorts
No lives lost during Severe TC Harold
Extreme high tide warning for Tonga as cyclone coincides with king tide and supermoon