The Kingdom of Tonga offers a breath of fresh air, a quiet and unhurried pace and a beautifully scenic holiday. Tourism is still moderate in these mellow islands, giving the chance to escape busy modernity and feel in touch with nature.
Tonga lies in the very heart of the South Pacific, located east of Fiji and south of Samoa. It is one of the most scenic and unspoiled of the Pacific island nations. Discover the islands' natural beauty with their secret beaches and magnificent blowholes and active volcanoes. Enjoy snorkelling and diving in the clearest of waters.
The island of Eua, a few kilometres off the south-eastern tip of Tongatapu is an ideal place to explore Tonga's natural beauty. A national park, the island has only a few small guest houses, no resorts, and Tonga's largest tract of native forest.
Take a day trek though the forest and enjoy the views from high lookouts, with birds soaring by. Eua is a paradise for bird lovers. Less demanding hikes include learning about local legends and history, walking through rock gardens and spotting wild horses. Take a village tour, meet some of the local people and watch tapa cloth being made. Or simply picnic on a deserted beach and gaze at the sparkling ocean. Keen on diving? Don't miss the northern shoreline underwater caves including the "cathedral cave" carved into a natural sepulchre and filled with brilliant fish and coral.
Perhaps the greatest of Tonga's natural attractions however are the humpback whales that come each year from Antarctica between June and November to breed in Tonga's warmer waters. Whales swim past Eua en route to their breeding grounds in Vava'u and you can even watch these magnificent creatures from the beach.
Hunga is another off-shore island, some 35 minutes from Neiafu Harbour and is renowned for its concentrations of humpback whales in the season. The deep water and sheltered bays provide a welcome resting place for humpbacks with calves.
The Kingdom of Tonga is a small country made up of more than 150 islands. It is found in the South Pacific Ocean near Samoa and Fiji, about 2/3 of the way between Hawaii and New Zealand.
Tonga is the only remaining monarchy in the Pacific. The royal palace can be seen by the sea near Nuku'alofa. Most people in Tonga are very respectful of royalty.
The capital and largest town is Nuku'alofa, on the main island of Tongatapu. The three main island groups are Tongatapu, Vava'u and Ha'apai.
The best way to explore Tonga is in some kind of watercraft such as a yacht, motor yacht, or even just a kayak! The best sailing conditions and weather are between May and October.
Early explorer Captain Cook called Tonga the Friendly Islands because of the welcoming reception he received there from native people. Most people there today are quite devout Protestants.
Tonga still has remarkably few tourists, and not a highly developed infrastructure so you can get away from it all and experience traditional culture.
Events and activities include the Tonga International Billfish Tournament, in Vava'u, in September. Also in September is the Outrigger Canoe Competition in Nuku'alofa. November and December see several public holidays with accompanying celebrations. Whale watching season is July-September.
Air New Zealand, Pacific Blue, Air Pacific and Polynesian Airlines all fly to Tonga. Air New Zealand has regular flights from Europe, the US or New Zealand that stop in Tonga. The other airlines fly to Tonga from destinations in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa. Book your flights early: many expatriated Tongans return to visit family during the holidays. This means flights into and out of the country can be sold out well in advance.
The international dateline crosses Tonga meaning it is one of the first countries in the world to see a new calendar day.
Tonga has a tropical climate so it is warm, sunny and humid. Average temperatures range from around 18-33 C/64.4-91.4 F
The best sailing conditions and weather are between May and October.
Tonga is refreshingly cooler than some other nearby tropical countries: you may even want a light sweater morning or evening. It also rains less in Tonga. Any rain is most often short afternoon showers.
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