When travellers visit the little island nation of Tonga, they get to see the world as nature intended it to be. Long stretches of white sand beaches with nary a foot-print, only 36 of its 170 islands inhabited and cool blue waters with vast coral reefs full of marine life – a holiday in Tonga is a surreal experience. A three-hour flight from Auckland, Tonga has plenty of direct connections to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Once travellers land at the Fua’amotu Airport on Tongatapu, they have the choice of taking a boat or a plane to the other islands. A lot of people also sail into Tonga on yacht charters, just to sample its untouched beauty. Vava’u is the preferred port of call, with its natural harbour and supremely beautiful coral atolls.
The people inhabiting the 36 islands of Tonga are mainly concentrated on Tongatapu, the main island. Over 98% of the population in Tongan, the rest being of mixed heritage and immigrants from Europe and other countries. As a whole, the people are devout Christians and their easy-going nature makes them ideal hosts for travellers from all over the world. When you sample Tongan hospitality, it will surely leave you with warm memories.
Tonga is very different from the rest of the South Pacific countries because of its long-reigning monarchy and isolation from the rest of the world. The people are devout, very warm-hearted and a friendly chat will often see travellers being invited to stay over with the locals. Add to the mix thousands of years of culture, traditions, simple living and what endures after a Tongan holiday is always the unstinted hospitality.
Tongan food staples include meat like pork, chicken and beef, along with root vegetables like breadfruit, cassava, taro and yams. Of course, as with any island nation, the seafood is excellent and deserves to be sampled extensively. From the local markets to street-food to resort restaurants, expect a feast!
Starting from the coral island of Tongatapu where two-thirds of the nationals live, there are a bunch of places to see and experiences to sample. First and foremost, Tonga is one of the few places on earth where numerous pods of whales come to mate and give birth to calves. With permission from the government, several tour operators allow travellers to see and swim with these majestic creatures. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Then, there is the Ha’apai group of islands, where swimming, fishing, snorkelling, diving and lounging on a beach hammock are the recommended activities through the day.
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