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Just west of the International
Dateline, the Tongan archipelago covers over 700,000 square
kilometers of the Pacific Ocean with a total of 170 islands. It is
made up of four main groups of islands, the principal island being
Tongatapu where the nation's capital Nuku'alofa and the main
international airport are located. Less than 40 of the islands are
populated so as you can imagine, there is plenty of space for you
to experience total freedom in Tonga.
It is thought that the islands were
first inhabited between 1500 and 1300 BC, the first recorded
European visitiors were Dutch navigators who arrived in 1616,
followed by Captain Cook in the 'Endeavour' in 1773 (he missed the
islands in an earlier voyage!). But the most beautiful parts
of Tonga escaped him as he believed that many of the islands did
not have good anchorage. Something that today's mariner does
not have to worry about.
Unlike most of its neighbours,
Tonga has never been under foreign rule. The Kingdom of Tonga
is a fully functional Monarchy, not simply a ceremonial one.
Its people are very proud of their independence and heritage which,
they say, can be traced back to the Gods of ancient
Polynesia. If people know the name of no other Tongan, they
invariably know that of Queen Salote, and recall the coronation of
Elizabeth II, when she rode through the pouring rain in an open
carriage rather than show disrespect to England's Queen by covering
Tonga has been very cautious in
developing tourism as it feared the loss of its traditions.
Fortunately, they have managed to facilitate the outside world's
interest in their island nation and retain their dignity and
traditional way of life. The Hotel accommodation in
Tonga is clean but basic. There are no four star hotels and
by European standards, the majority of them would be two star
plus. The food served at the hotels we offer is very good and
will not disappoint you! However, it is a joy to see that
they make no attempt to adopt the fast-track lifestyle of their
visitiors. Modern Tonga offers a wonderful blend of
centuries old Polynesian cultural history with the
breathtaking scenery of their South Pacific Island paradise.
Coconut palms, the niu, are
widespread throughout the islands, with its fruit being an
essential element to the economic culture both as a source of food
as well as for practical and decorative weaving. Parts of the
Kingdom are still forested and hibiscus, calophyllum and hernandia
(the children use its fruit as marbles) are some of the most common
plants and trees. Over 40 species of bird inhabit the islands
but there are few land animals and more than a few people will be
pleased to learn that there is not much in the way of anything that
creeps or crawls, apart from the very cute little gekos that
scamper about at dusk.
Tonga's second largest island is
Vava'u which lies to the north of Nuka 'alofa, which has an
abundance of beautiful white sand beaches protected by colourful
coral reefs. Excellent cruising and sailing conditions are
found along the eastern edge of Vava'u which is protected from
winds and ocean swells by a string of outer islands and
reefs. Swimming, snorkelling and reef viewing are
superb. For the novice and the experienced anglers they will
find the fishing superb! Why not try for a barracuda or
marlin! A must to visit are the mystical blue-lit cavern of
Mariners' Cave on the island of Nuapapu.
Although Tonga has some wonderful
beaches, they are mainly located on the smaller islands of the
Haiapai group which are located half way between the main islands
of Tongatapu in the south and Vava'u in the north. The
Kingdom of Tonga is similar to Vanuatu, in that the island's
culture has changed very little over the centuries, apart from the
day to day dress code.
If you like sailing, then Tonga is
the place for you. Yacht chartering is a very popular way of
experiencing the Tongan islands, as there are plenty of deserted
ones for you to anchor off. Plus, you will see the islands
the way Captain Cook and the other 18th Century explorers did, as
very little has changed.
We believe that Tonga is for those
travellers who are looking to experience the culture of the South
Pacific and get away from everything 21st century! There are
no TV's, so take lots of books or someone you like 'doing nothing'
with! If you would like to get back to the basics of
life, then visit the timelessly unspoilt Kingdom of Tonga.
You will find it a truly wonderful experience.
Currently, there are no locally
based cruise companies offering cruse itineraries around
Tonga. There are a few major cruise companies operating the
large luxury liners, who offer itineraries across and
around the Pacific that will visit some of these islands, but they
are not frequent or on a regular basis.
However during the Humpback
Whale seasons from July to October there are one or two live on
boats that allow you a five or six night cruise to sail and
swim with the whales, these boats sail form Vava'u, details are
available on request.
Please note: We are constantly updating the prices
shown on this website, but due to volatility of the currency
exchange markets at the moment with the UK Sterling rates, prices
may vary from those shown. If you wish to confirm any prices
shown here, please contact us directly.