World Travel Guide > Guides > Oceania > Tonga

Things to see and do in Tonga

Attractions in Tonga

Be amazed by Ha'amonga Trilithon

Ha'amonga Trilithon is a massive stone arch possibly used as a seasonal calendar, erected at the same time as the Terraced Tombs and again made from coral. The Anahulu Cave is an underground cavern of stalactites and stalagmites near the beach of the same name, about 24km (15 miles) from the capital.

Explore the Ha'apai Group

These 68 small islands form the geological and geographical centre of Tonga, and are characterised by white sandy beaches, pristine waters and spectacular coral reefs. The main island, also named Ha'apai, features the quaint old town of Pangai. The famous mutiny on the HMS Bounty in 1789 is said to have taken place in the waters surrounding these islands.

Grab your binoculars and go whale watching

Humpback whales arrive in Tongan waters June to November, to calf and to mate. Special speakers for whale watching are plugged into a hydrophone installed on board the Phoenix catamaran based at Neiafu; only the male whales sing. You can find many reputable whale watching tours that will give you the best possible chance of seeing whales.

Make a royal appointment with the Tongatapu Group

In Nuku'alofa, the capital, sightseeing itineraries should include the white Victorian Royal Palace on the waterfront. When the king is in residence, the royal standard flies from the palace. While visitors are not allowed to enter the palace or gardens, there are good views from the low surrounding walls. The Mala'ekula (Royal Tombs) are situated along Taufa'ahau Road.

Make a splash with the many watersports

Tonga's coral reefs provide great beauty and variety for scuba diving and snorkelling; fully equipped boats and equipment can be hired. There are sandy beaches and excellent swimming throughout the islands, with pools at some hotels. There is a world-standard surfing beach on the island of 'Eua. Niutoua Beach, on the main island, and Ha'apai and Vava'u islands are also good for surfing.

Pay your respects at Langi

On the eastern end of the island are the Langi (Terraced Tombs), 9.5km (6 miles) from the Ha'amonga Trilithon towards Nuku'alofa. The tombs form quadrilateral mounds with huge blocks of stone rising in terraces to heights of 4m (13ft), built for the old Tu'itonga (Spiritual Kings). The stones are of coral, built around AD1200, possibly carried from Wallis Island on large canoes known as lomipeau.

Roam free on 'Eua island

The island of 'Eua is a 10-minute flight away from Tongatapu and has a blend of modern comfort (the island has one hotel and a motel) and traditional island lifestyle. Many species of exotic bird live on the island. ʻEua also counts many huge caves and holes, not all of which have yet been explored.

See the flying foxes of Kolovai

At Kolovai, 18km (11 miles) west of Nuku'alofa, visitors can find the rare flying foxes, dark brown fruit bats, some with wingspans of up to 1m (3ft). The Ha'atafu and Monotapu beaches are also situated at the western end of the island; they are easily accessible and well protected.

See the spectacle of the blowholes

One of the most impressive sights in Tonga are the blowholes, which can be found along the coastline at Houma, 14.5km (9 miles) from Nuku'alofa. Waves send seawater spurting some 18m (60ft) into the air through holes in the coral reef. This stretch of coastline is known as the Mapu 'a Vaea ("the chief's whistle") by Tongans because of the whistling sound made by the spouts.

Set sail for the Vava'u Group

Lying north of Tongatapu, this cluster of 50 or so thickly wooded islands has one hotel, one motel, one beach resort and four guesthouses. There is a daily one-hour flight from the capital and a weekly ferry service; charters also operate from the harbour at Neiafu, the main town. Attractions include diving, the Fangatongo Royal Residence, Mount Talau and Sailoame Market in Neiafu.

Tourist offices

Tonga Visitors Bureau

Address: Vuna Road, Nuku'alofa,
Telephone: 25 334.
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