Published on March 30th, 2016 | by adventuremag
|Government||Hereditary constitutional monarchy|
|Population||106,137 (July 2002 est.)|
|Religion||Christian (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints claims 52,000 adherents; Free Wesleyan Church claims over 30,000 adherents)|
The Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian sovereign state and archipelago comprising 177 islands with a total surface area of about 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi) scattered over 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) of the southern Pacific Ocean
Tonga became known as the Friendly Islands because of the congenial reception accorded to Captain James Cook on his first visit in 1773. He arrived at the time of the ʻinasi festival, the yearly donation of the First Fruits to the Tuʻi Tonga (the islands’ paramount chief) and so received an invitation to the festivities. According to the writer William Mariner, the chiefs wanted to kill Cook during the gathering but could not agree on a plan!
- Tongatapu. Tongatapu is Tonga’s largest island with over two-thirds of the country’s small population. It is a coral island surrounded by coral reefs. The capital, Nuku’alofa, on the north coast, has a relaxed air, despite the troubles of a few years ago. There are some interesting places to visit, such as ancient tombs and coastal blowholes, and some pleasant beaches with good snorkelling. Tongatapu also provides a good opportunity to view a unique culture.
- ‘Eua. ‘Eua Island is located only 17.5km east southeast from Tongatapu. It is the highest island in Tonga and is not related geologically to the other islands, being much older. It has beaches on the western side but dramatic cliffs on the east coast, with Tonga’s largest tropical rain forest, which is a great place to go trekking. There are a few small guest houses.
- Vava’u. Vava’u is a group of more than 50 islands, about 150 miles north of Tongatapu. They are either raised coral limestone or coral atolls. The beautiful harbour opposite the main town of Neiafu is a common destination for yachties sailing the South Pacific, attracting about 500 yachts every season. The waters of the islands are known for their clarity. The area attracts many humpback whales between June and November and there are organised tours to see them. Other things to do include diving, renting a yacht, kayaking; game fishing and kite surfing. There are some good walks on the main island.
Apart from a few historical sites on Tongatapu most things to do in Tonga reflect its island nature. Diving, snorkelling, fishing, boat trips, kayaking and kite surfing are all possible.
The west-northwest facing coastline of the main island of Tongatapu is the home of some of Tonga’s best surfing. This coastline is perfectly situated to take advantage of the huge groundswells from winter storm activities in the southern Pacific. The steady east-southeast offshore trade winds create perfect surf conditions.
Shallow, warm, uncrowded lagoons coupled with steady, dependable trade winds make Tonga a paradise for the exhilarating sport of kitesurfing. There are a range of guided operator that run tours for New Zealand plus some operators in Tonga itself. The advantage of using these operators they obviously know when and where to go in all conditions. A lot of people have been travelling to Tonga to learn to kiteboard due to the light winds and warm water.
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