Tonga - Island Guide
Tongatapu Island is the heart of the Tonga’s Island Groups and home to the capital, Nuku’alofa – Tonga’s centre of government and business. It is also the residence of the Royal Family. The terrain is pancake flat so it is 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 terraced tombs (langi), natural rock arches, limestone caves and spectacular blowholes.
Part of the Tongatapu Group, rugged ‘Eua lies 40km off the coast of Nuku’alofa
. The island 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 numerous 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.
When you reach Ha’apai, you will find that time has stopped. There are no traffic jams, no crowds, no queues – just peace and tranquillity. It was on Lifuka Island that Captain Cook landed and, after a warm reception, he later described the group as the Friendly Islands. Independent travellers consider the Ha’apai group to be Tonga’s best-kept secret and one they hope will never be discovered by mass tourism. With its prolific wildlife and pristine natural beaches, Ha’apai is a wonderful eco-tourism destination, and a paradise for divers and snorkellers.
A nature lover’s paradise, the Vava’u group comprises some 34 islands, 21 of which are inhabited. It is widely regarded as the most scenic region in Tonga. For those who enjoy watersports, Vava’u is the place to stay. There’s an extensive
charter boat operation and, from July to October, you can see the magnificent humpback whales that come to the warm waters to mate and calve. Snorkelling, diving, sportsfishing and sea kayaking are all on the menu here. 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, Vava’u is a haven for yachties and 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 it 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 island of Niuafo’ou is a collapsed volcanic cone, with its centre dominated by Vai Lahi, a large lake measuring some 5km across and up to 84m deep.
Order your free copies of Jasons Tonga Visitor Guide