Tonga is a backpackers Pacific paradise. With 170 amazing islands, you can literally go 'off the beaten track'.
Captain Cook named Tonga ‘The Friendship Islands’, and 500 years after Tongans are still greeting present day explorers with warmth and hospitality. Tonga is the last kingdom of the pacific, and the first country on the western side of the International Date Line, "where time begins." If you hang around long enough, you discover that Tonga might rather be the place where "time stand still". Although infrastructure is constantly improving and more luxurious resorts are being built, Tonga is still unspoiled. There is always time for gossip and the daily meetings in the kawa-clubs. Even Tonga's business men stroll around in their comfortable sarongs.
There are plenty of great water activites in Tonga. Unique snorkeling and diving experiences, whale watching, sailing, kayaking, surfing, fishing and fine white beaches. Explore as many of the islands as you can, and spoil yourself with a few domestic flights if the long ferry trips become too nauseating.
Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa is situated on the largest island, Tongatapu. There are not many beaches on the island, but Tongatapu has become a popular surf spot. The waves break over coral reefs 100 m from the coast, so surfing on Tongatapu is not for beginners. While on Tongatapu be sure to make a trip to the powerful Mapu'aa'Vaca blow holes, which stretches beautiful 5 km along the Southwestern coast. The very adventurous travellers should under no circumstances miss exploring the Anahulu caves near the blow holes. It can be explored in good shoes and with a reliable flashlight. You can also snorkel inside the caves, if you bring a powerful underwater torch. If you have time to hang out and become friends with the locals in Nuku'alofa, you learn a lot about Tonga culture: Drink kawa with the local men, go wild at the Blue Pacific Nightclub, watch a rugby match and get entertained by the local gossip.
Are you dreaming of strolling along deserted beaches with fine sand between your toes and a salty sea breeze in your hair? Then get off the beaten track and travel to one of Ha'apai's 62 islands of which 45 of them are uninhabited. To explore the traditional cultures of Ha’apai’s most remote islands, you need either a lot of time or a lot of money, because to get there you must travel with the sporadic local transport or hire a private boat. However, it's definietly worth it, because hardly any tourists travel to these unspoiled islands.
Ha'apais most beautiful island is the volcano Tofua. It can be difficult to go ashore, so you might only get a chance to enjoy the sight of the perfectly cone shaped volcano from the sea. In 1789 the mutiny on the Bounty took place 30 miles south of Tofua. William Bligh and his supporters sought for refuge on the island, but they soon fled again when they were attacked by local residents and a crew member was stoned to death.
Most tourists visit the islands of Vava'u in northern Tonga. The main island, Neiafu, offers a large range of different activities. Vava'u is best known for the 'Whale Watching' tours. From July to November humpback whales are breeding in between the islands and there are many of them. You can also go snorkelling with the whales, if you're lucky enough you might experience the humpback whale up close in it's natural habitat under water.
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