Kingdom of Tonga
Tonga or officially the Kingdom of Tonga is an island state in Polynesia. On the Tongatapu Island, the capital city Nuku’alofa is situated. The closest neighbouring countries are the Samoa Island, the Niue Island, and Fiji. The island is washed by the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
The climate on the island is tropical with frequent trade winds. In the hot season, tropical cyclones often occur. The average temperature on the north of Tonga is +26°C and on the south, the temperature is +28°C. The best time for visiting Tonga is a period from May to October.
The Royal family and the majority of the population are the Protestants (the Methodist movement). Tonga gained independence within the Commonwealth in 1970 and the constitutional monarchy was introduced. The official languages are Tongan and English.
For beach entertainments, surfing, and snorkelling the tourists should go to the beaches in the capital city, the Oholei Beach, the Anahulu Beach, and the Kolovai Beach. The Tufuvai Beach with its coral reef and the Ha’aluma Beach on the Island of Eua are the best diving zones in the Kingdom. The Lifuka Island and Foe’ata Island attract those who love scuba diving, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and underwater hunting.
Tonga is called a “paradise” for divers. The best diving places are near the islands Tongatapu, Ha’apai, and Vava’u. Yellow Pier in Nuku’alofa is especially popular. The tourists can also rent a boat and go fishing.
On the island of Eua and the Nomuka Island, there are hiking, trekking, and climbing routes.
Those who like out-of-town holidays should visit the Eua National Park, the Mount Talau National Park, the Haatafu Beach Reserve, and the Monuafe Island Park and Reef Reserve. Excursions to the Pangaimotu Reef Reserve and Hakaumamao Reef Reserve are arranged for the tourists. Anyone can go hiking to the Kao Volcano, Tofua Volcano, and Tafahi Volcano.
If you come to the city of Neiafu from June to November, you will have a chance to take a boat trip and to watch the humpback whales. On the catamaran, there is a hydrophone so the tourists can hear how the whales sing.
For city entertainments and shopping head right to the capital city of the Tongatapu Island.
The lack of direct flights between Tonga and CIS and EU countries makes it a bit difficult to get to this exotic country. One can get to Tonga from Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain.
There are several routes with a transfer in hub airports which can be convenient for the citizens of CIS countries and Europe.
British Airways offers flights to the International airport of Nuku’alofa from London. The duration of the flight is 20 hours.
Air Pacific offers direct flights from Fiji to the Nuku’alofa International Airport and Fua’amotu International Airport.
Air New Zealand have the flights to the both airports in Tonga.
The tourists can get to Tonga from New Zealand and Australia with Polynesian Airlines.
The tourists from CIS countries and Europe can get a visa at arrival which is valid for 31 days.
The travellers must provide an international passport valid for, at least, 3 months, confirmation of financial sufficiency, and return tickets.
If you want to stay in Tonga for a longer time, you can apply to the Immigration Department in Nuku’alofa. You should provide new tickets with an open date of return and booking confirmation.
The Customs legislation of Tonga does not contain any restrictions concerning the import or export of foreign currency. Any sum of money must be declared. The import and export of the national currency are limited to 10.000 TOP.
The tourists are allowed to bring in Tonga the following things duty-free:
- perfume for personal use;
- tobacco and alcohol;
- video and photo camera one item per person;
- personal belongings.
To import plants, fruits, animals and birds, one must get the Tonga Phytosanitary Certificate.
The tourists are not allowed to export:
- local animals and plants;
- valuable handicrafts;
- corals which the tourists found themselves;
- souvenirs made of rare sea animals.
The cuisine of Tonga was greatly influenced by the traditions of the Melanesian culture. The staple food in the Kingdom is manioc, yams, pork, and taro root.
Meat dishes are typically prepared of pork. People on the island either toast or bake it. We recommend trying a white yam Ufi. The dish Lu Pulu (meat marinated in coconut water and onion) will make your mouth water. You should also like the taste of Cassava (baked tapioca with coconut water).
Being in Tonga, you can’t miss a chance to try various seafood: squids, lobsters, oysters, and octopus wrapped in palm leaves and roasted over the charcoal. Try the dish Feke (grilled squid) and Ota (chopped fish marinated in lime juice). You will be impressed by the taste of the dish Mozhama (air-dried tuna), Ota Ika (tuna salad with coconut meat), and Mahi Mahi (roasted fish).
The most popular soup here is Vai Siaine (banana and coconut water soup).
The meals are served with breadfruit and grain flatbread.
For the dessert, you will be served fresh fruits.
The most popular drink on the island is strong black “Royal coffee”, coconut water, and a tropical cocktail with watermelon.
A favourite alcoholic drink is Kava.
The national currency in Tonga is the Pa’anga or the Tongan Dollar (TOP). Bank notes from 1 to 50 pa’anga and coins are in circulation.
It is recommended to exchange currency at banks. The banks in Neiafy and Nuku’alofa work six days a week. The tourists can also exchange the currency in the authorised exchange offices. Some hotels also offer currency exchange services, but at a lower rate.
In large malls, you can pay with international credit cards. There are limits to withdrawing the money from Diners Club and Visa card accounts. On the remote islands, credit cards are not accepted.
One can cash traveller’s checks in touristic shops, banks and hotels. We recommend taking the checks in Australian or US dollars and pound sterling.
The preferred method of payment is cash.
Details of interest
Customs and traditions
In Tonga, European traditions exist together with local taboos. Religion plays a very important role in the life of the Tonga people.
Beyond the swimming areas, men and women should wear clothes covering their hips.
Outside restaurants, bars, and hotels drinking of alcoholic beverages are restricted.
Sightseeing in Tonga
- The first place you should visit is Nuku’alofa. Visit the Royal Palace and the Mala’ekula Tongan Royal Tombs situated in the park. Next to the Palace is the Centenary Church and the manor house Sia Ko Veiongo built in the 15th century. The tourists can see the St. Mary Cathedral, the War Memorial Museum, and the Tonga National Cultural Center with traditional oval-shaped buildings.
- The East Coast of Tongatapu. We recommend visiting the pyramid-shaped Lungi Grave and the Megalithic Gate of Haamonga a Maui. In the Anahulu Cave, you can see numerous stalagmites.
- The West Coast of Tongatapu. A trip to the Tongan Wildlife Center is arranged for the tourists where they can see rare animals and birds including red parrots.
- The South Coast of Tongatapu. The travellers can go hiking to the Hufangalupe Coral Bridge and see unique “marine geysers” or Houma Blowholes near the village of Houma.
- On the Island of Eua, the travellers can have an excursion to the karst wells and caves. Anyone can also see the ruins of the Anokula Palace.
- On the Ha’apai Island, there is a hiking route to the volcanoes Kao, Tafahi, and Tofua. In an ancient city Phangan, everyone can see such historical monuments as the Olovehi Tombs on the Lifuka island and a famous Archaeological Site On Lifuka.
- Do not miss a chance to visit the Nuapapu Island and see the Mariner’s Cave. And on the Cape island, there is the Swallows Cave populated with swiftlet.
Souvenirs in Tonga
- Traditional clothes of the local people (skirts with beads and loincloth), authentic jewellery can be found in Tongatapu.
- Woven things and furniture made of rattan are sold in Nuku’alofa.
- On the Vava’u Island, the tourists can buy traditional musical instruments made of seashells and exotic fruits.
- On the Neiafu Island, the tourists can buy combs made of the whalebone, fans, and sandalwood jewellery boxes.