Excellent diving and snorkellig, whale-watching and hiking in tropical rainforests are some of the best things to do in Tonga. There are quiet beaches and remote islands, and historical attractions to explore.
The Kingdom of Tonga, the last remaining kingdom in Polynesia, is located just west of the International Date Line. It consists of around 170 islands, and while it is a popular travel destination, tourism here is slightly less developed than some other South Pacific holiday islands, making Tonga perfect for travellers looking for a peaceful island getaway.
Tonga’s main island is Tongatapu, a large flat coral island with sandy beaches and some interesting archaeological sites including pyramid-shaped royal tombs or langi in Lapaha, and the 10th century Ha’amonga ‘a Maui trilithon. A large part of Tonga’s population live in the capital Nuku’alofa, a town surrounded by plantations and small villages. On Tongatapu’s southern coast, the Tongan Wildlife Centre features a botanical garden and a bird park, and there is an interesting walk along seaside cliffs and over a natural coral bridge in Hufangalupe. In the village of Houma visitors can admire nearly 100 blowholes.
Off the north coast of Tongatapu are approximately 20 coral islands with stunning beaches and excellent snorkelling, diving and windsurfing opportunities. Many of the islands are uninhabited, and the only accommodation options are the Fafa Island Resort, the Pangaimotu Island Resort and a small resort on Atata Island. The uninhabited coral islands can be explored by boat, and trips can be organized from Fafa or from Nuku’alofa.
A two-hour ferry ride from Tongatapu, the Eua Island has beautiful beaches, abundant birdlife and rainforests made for hiking. A variety of birds live in the rainforest, and there are sea bird colonies on the east coast. The best ways to explore Eua are by foot or by horseback. The Eua Island also offers great underwater cave diving and rock climbing.
The Vava’u Group of islands is one of Tonga’s most popular holiday destinations and the best place to see humpback whales as they come to calf in this protected area between July and October. Whale-watching tours are organised during the season. Other activities in the Vava’u islands include sailing, kayaking, diving and snorkelling around these limestone islands and coral reefs.
The Ha’apai Group consists of around 60 islands, most of which are uninhabited. There is only accommodation on a few of the islands. The beaches here are gorgeous, and there are great snorkelling and diving opportunities. The volcanic island of Tofua has the most active volcano in Tonga, and it is possible to hike to the volcano’s summit. The more remote Niuas Islands get much less visitors, and the beaches and lagoons in the Niuas are perfect for independent exploring.
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