THE KINGDOM OF TONGA
There are many reasons to visit The Kingdom of Tonga. Long expanses of golden beaches, crystal-clear water, dramatic coastal scenery and volcanic peaks, a languid lifestyle that makes other Pacific islands look hectic in comparison, the warm and welcoming nature of the Tongan people, and myriad idyllic backdrops in which to snorkel, yacht, fish and simply laze away another perfect Pacific day.
In 1773, Captain Cook visited the Kingdom of Tonga (Ancient Polynesia) and forever changed what the ‘known’ world knew of the Pacific. So friendly were the Tongans that Cook revisited Tonga twice more to explore some of the 176 Islands scattered across more than 700,000 square miles of the world’s bluest ocean. Since Captain Cook’s visit, the reception travellers receive has not changed. You'll find Tongans live up to Cook’s epithet “The Friendly Islands” with their natural warmth and gentle approach to life.
Island of Tonga
Located at the heart of the South Pacific, Tonga is one of the most scenic and unspoiled of the Pacific island nations. There are 170+ islands (only 40 of which are inhabited) scattered over 700,000 sq km of ocean. Located just to the west of the International Date Line, south-east of Fiji and south of Samoa, Tonga is the first Pacific nation to greet the new day.
Tonga has a variety of scenery seldom matched elsewhere in the world, with dramatic volcanic landscapes, low-lying coral atolls, pristine coral reefs and magnificent sandy beaches. Tonga is divided into four main island groups.
Tongatapu Island is the heart of the Tonga Islands and home to the capital, Nuku’alofa. Here is – Tonga’s centre of government and business and it is where the King of Tonga and royal families take resident.
‘Eua Island Group
Rugged ‘Eua lies 40km off the coast of Nuku’alofa. The ideal destination for those in search of adventure and enjoy being in touch with nature.
When you reach Ha’apai, you will find that time has stopped. There are no traffic jams, no crowds, no queues – just peace and tranquillity.
A water based nature lover’s paradise, the group comprises some 34 islands, 21 of which are inhabited. For those who enjoy water sports.
Plants and Animals
The Kingdom of Tonga’s flora and fauna represent a South Pacific environment that is unique as it is beautiful. A profusion of hibiscus, frangipani, bird of paradise and other flowers create an oasis of colour among the coconut groves, pandanus and banana plantations. The lush rainforest, mudflats and the surrounding lagoons and reefs are home to a wealth of bird and marine life.
Getting there: Pacific Blue, International Airline of Virgin Blue offers direct flights twice weekly from Sydney to Nuku alofa (Tonga) with fares starting from $339 per person, one way on the net. Formal connecting flights are also available from other destinations across the Virgin Blue network going via Sydney on Mondays and Thursdays and via Auckland on Sundays and Wednesdays. If you're looking to keep entertained, simply hire the digEplayer, your own personal in-flight system features movies, TV shows and a broad array of music for an additional $20. If you fancy extra leg room, book the Blue Zone seating option for an extra $45. Check out www.flypacificblue.com for current specials, bookings and all your travel needs.
A report by Michael Osborne, who will be visiting The Kingdom of Tonga in May, courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism and Pacific Blue.
If you can’t wait for our report, please go to: http://www.tongaholiday.com