- Tongatapu Group
Tonga's main island is Tongatapu, the home of the Royal Family and the capital of Nuku'alofa. Highlights include the Royal Palace and tombs, the spectacular blowholes in the southwest, and the ancient Lapaha area in the east.
- Eua Island
Just 40km south-east of Tongatapu, this wild, rugged island with its dense tropical rainforest is an ideal retreat for hikers and nature lovers.
- Vava'u Group
With its beautiful beaches, sheltered anchorages and steady trade winds, Vava'u group is a sailor's paradise. There are numerous offshore islands to explore, excellent diving and fishing, and whalewatching in season.
- Ha'apai Group
This unspoilt group of about 50 small atolls is known for its gentle pace of life, magnificent coral reefs and snorkelling, and beaches fringed with coconut palms.
Tonga's magnificent white sand beaches are a real highlight for beach lover. Ha'apai has exceptional beaches, as does Vava'u, which accesses the idyllic castaway island of Nuku.
Popular caves include Anahulu on Tongatapu, with its freshwater pool, and Swallows Cave and Mariner's Cave on Vava'u. 'Eua also has numerous limestone caves to explore.
Ceremonial tapa cloths are presented at all important gatherings. It was once customary to give a piece of cloth of no less than a 40 sq feet, but smaller versions can be found at the local markets. Tongan women are also renowned for their fine weaving, and produce beautiful baskets and mats from the leaves of the pandanus plant. Pandanus leaves can often be seen laid out in the sun for drying.
Tonga's coral reefs are among the finest in the world. There are dropoffs, caves, deep reefs and sunken ships to explore, and the rare black fan coral is found in abundance. Ha'apai group is known for its clear lagoons and colourful reefs, while Vava'u offers sea caves and shipwrecks.
Tongan waters are renowned for their variety of game fish including black, blue and striped marlin, sailfish, barracuda, wahoo, tuna, giant trevally and mahi mahi. The Tonga International Billfish Tournament is held in September. Charters operate out of Nuku'alofa on Tongatapu and Vava'u's main town, Neiafu.
- Historical Sites
The Mu'a area (formerly Tonga's ancient capital of Lapaha) in the east contains a rich concentration of archaeological sites. The impressive royal tombs (28 altogether) were built in a terraced construction, and the massive stones were thought to have been brought from Uvea (Wallis Islands) hundreds of kilometres to the north. Another must-see site is the huge monument of Ha'amonga, located near Niutoua. Dubbed the Stonehenge of the South Pacific, it consists of three large coral stones, each weighing a massive 40 tonnes.
Nuku'alofa and Vava'u are a mecca for international yachts from March to October. Port of Refuge harbour in Vava'u offers sheltered anchorage, while Faua Harbour in Nuku'alofa has basic facilities. The Nuku'alofa Yacht & Motor Club also welcomes visiting yachties.
Surfing is excellent all year round. From April to October (winter) there are south swells, and from November to March (summer) north swells. There are plenty of surfing spots in Vava'u and Ha'apai.
- Tongan Feasts
Feasting is central to the Tongan lifestyle and there can be up to 30 different dishes served including steamed pork, fish, crayfish, octopus, tropical fruits and suckling pig. Feasting is followed by singing and 'lakalaka' - the traditional Tongan dance. There are several hotels and beaches which stage Tongan feasts for visitors.
- Whale Watching
Vava'u is one of the best places in the world to get up close to the pods of humpback whales, which mate and calve in Tongan waters from June to November. Tours operate from the main town of Neiafu, taking visitors out to snorkel and swim with the whales.
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