Explore Tonga The Ancient Kingdom
From the rugged mountains of ‘Eua to the palm-fringed islands of Ha’apai and the secluded anchorages of Vava’u, the ancient Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga is one of the most unspoiled island nations. You’ll find beautiful beaches, scenic bushwalks and peaceful villages to explore, along with pristine coral reefs beneath the warm clear waters.
Visitors to Tonga will find four main island groups, each with its own distinct character. In the south is Tongatapu Group, home to the capital of Nuku’alofa and the island of ‘Eua; 100km north is the Ha’apai group, with its superb diving and snorkelling, and 100km further north is the Vava’u group, one of the world’s great yachting destinations. In the far north, 300km from Vava’u, lies the remote Niuas, a fascinating part of Tonga where traditional life still thrives.
Tongatapu, meaning ‘sacred south’, has many reminders of its ancient past. The eastern part of Tongatapu Island contains most of Tonga’s key archaelogical sites. The terrain is pancake flat so it’s easy to explore by car or bike, or simply walk around and discover the island’s natural beauty and historic attractions. There are ancient monuments and tombs, natural rock arches, limestone caves and spectacular blowholes to discover. Offshore of Tongatupu is a maze of motus (islets) and coral reefs. Several of the offshore islands have resorts (Pangaimotu, Fafa and Royal Sunset) and make a lovely day trip.
Part of the Tongatapu Group, rugged ‘Eua is an ideal destination for those in search of adventure and has the best trekking in Tonga. Hilly and thickly forested, ‘Eua is peaceful and largely undeveloped, with spectacular high cliffs at its northern end, and many caves and sinkholes. Take a walk through the pristine forest in ‘Eua National Park, explore the rocky southern coastline, descend through the rainforest to the sea or watch from the cliff edge as seabirds swoop by on the thermal currents. There are caves, chasms and waterfalls with pools to cool you off.
If you’ve ever dreamed about small, palm-fringed islands untouched by the rest of the world, then Ha’apai group is for you. Wildlife, pristine natural beauty and kilometres of white sandy beaches offer a truly memorable experience. There are only limited visitor services in this group, but the friendliness of the people of Ha’apai is legendary, and everyone receives a warm, generous welcome that continues throughout their stay. If you enjoy excellent diving, kayaking and swimming, untouched nature and sharing with the local people, Ha’apai is definitely the place for you.
Beautiful Vava’u is widely regarded as Tonga’s most scenic region, and if you like your watersports and yachting, you’ll be right at home here. Snorkelling, diving, sport fishing, sailing and sea kayaking are all on the menu. The islands are known for their whale watching, and from July to October, you can see the magnificent humpback whales that come to the warm waters to mate and calve. Beneath the water, the great visibility – up to 30m – makes journeys out to remote underwater caves and mysterious shipwrecks a delight. With its sheltered anchorages and waterways, Vava’u is also famous as one of the world’s great sailing centres.
In Tonga’s far north, the volcanic islands of Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou lie midway between Vava’u and Samoa. Although the Niuas can be difficult to get to, traditional Tongan customs and culture still thrive in this isolated group, offering visitors the cultural experience of a lifetime.
The following airlines all provide regular services to the Kingdom of Tonga.
Air New Zealand
Airlines Tonga provides daily domestic services from Tongatapu to Vava’u, Ha’apai as well as to 'Eua. The airline also flies directly from Nadi in Fiji to Vava’u twice weekly.
Chathams Pacific - The Friendly Islands Airline will commence services in Tonga on Monday 14 April 2008.
The Tonga Visitors Bureau is located on Vuna Road about 5 minutes walk from Nuku’alofa town centre.
Phone (676) 25 334; fax (676) 23507.
Order your free copies of Jasons Tonga Visitor Guide.
Images courtesy of © Tonga Visitors Bureau