Tonga, named "The Friendly Islands" by Captain Cook, is an archipelago of 169 islands in the Pacific southeast of Fiji, and generally has limestone and coral or volcanic foundations. With a history that includes settlements dating back to 500 BC, and the site of the famous Fletcher Christian-led mutiny of the Bounty in 1789, Tonga was part of a united Polynesian kingdom in 1845, and has been independent since 1970 and is the only monarchy in the Pacific, and has a steady economy based on agriculture and tourism.
The picturesque island of Tonga comprises three island groups, which include Tongatapu, Ha’apai, and Vava’u. The wonderful Pacific Island’s Ocean of Tonga encompasses a total area of 800 kilometers from the north to the south. The Tongatapu is the biggest island of Tonga; Nuku’alofa, the capital city of Tonga is situated in the beautiful island of Tongatapu. The enchanting tourist destination of Tonga occupies a total area of 748 square kilometers. The highest point of Tonga measures about 1033 meters in height. The island of Tonga comprises 419 kilometers of beautiful coastal areas.
The best times to visit Tonga are months from May to October when the weather is at its best. The temperature in Tonga rarely rises above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or in other words, above 27 degrees Celsius from the period between May and November. The average daily humidity of Tonga is 80%. From November to April is the hurricane season and can be hot, humid, and wet.
Tongatapu Island is the largest island of the Tongan Group and is home to the capital Nuku'alofa, the centre of commerce and government. It is also the seat of the monarchy and the residence of the Royal Family. Tongatapu is located in Tonga's southern island group and is the Kingdom's most populous with over 70,000 residents. It is also the location of Tonga's international airport.
There are numerous historical sites located on Tongatapu. The most significant being the ancient trilithon archway, Ha'amanga 'a Maui which dates back to the 11th century AD. There are also ancient tombs of the Tongan Kings, spectacular ocean blowholes, Captain Cook's landing site and the Royal Palace prominently located on the Nuku'alofa waterfront. Tongatapu is essentially flat and is easy to explore by foot, car or organized tours.
Ha'apai Island Group
The central island group of the Kingdom of Tonga, Ha'apai is made up of a series of islands islets, reefs and shoals that are scattered over a large area of ocean. Ha'apai typifies the 'real Polynesia'. Uncrowded, unhurried and undiscovered, it's a place where time stands still. Visitors enjoy the friendly Tongan people and the hospitality of boutique lodges and eco resorts.
Unaffected by mass tourism, Ha'apai's prolific wildlife, pristine beaches and magnificent coral lagoons all combine to create an experience that is increasingly difficult to find today. It's surely Tonga's best kept secret, maybe even the worlds.
Vava'u Island Group
The northern group of Vava'u is often described as the jewel in Tonga's crown. Consisting of one large island surrounded by a necklace of 50 smaller ones, Vava'u forms a natural wonderland of coral islands, deserted white sandy beaches, pristine clear lagoons and coral gardens. Vava'u is famous for its aquatic and adventure activities which include gamefishing, scuba diving, snorkelling, kite boarding, kayaking, sailing and most famously whale watching.
Visitors come from all over the world for the opportunity to swim with the huge gentle Humpback whales who frequent Vava'u's warm waters during the winter breeding season. Vava'u's major town Neiafu is nestled in a deep sheltered harbour that is the base of most of its aquatic activities, in particular local yacht charter and craft from all over the world base themselves in this beautiful harbour during the season. Surrounding the foreshore are guesthouses, hotels, bars, cafes and restaurants all catering for Vava'u's visitors from all over the world.
Just off the eastern shore of Tongatapu, 'Eua Island is a very special place to visit. Hilly and covered in lush rainforest it is the perfect destination for those in search of adventure or eco experiences. it has some of the best hiking trails in Tonga through the 'Eua National Park. Journey through lush pristine rainforest, along dramatic cliff tops, through caves and on unspoiled beaches with the opportunity to see and hear the Koki, 'Eua's indigenous red-breasted parrot. For divers 'Eua boasts the largest underwater caves in the South Pacific, one of which is likened to diving in an underwater cathedral. "Eua has a regular ferry service or is just a 7 minute flight from Tongatapu, reputedly the shortest commercial airline flight in the world.
Geographically 'Eua is the oldest island in the group and was created by the uplifting of the Tongan Plate. Unlike the other islands 'Eua is not volcanic in origin. A fact remarkably confirmed by Tongan legend that says the god Maui stood on 'Eua when he fished the islands of Tongatapu, Ha'apai and Vava'u from the ocean. 'Eua is a unique experience for anyone who enjoys getting in touch with nature and has a real sense of adventure.