Tonga: Tongatapu

We arrived in Tongatapu, the capital island of Tonga, in the afternoon. REALtonga Airlines (yes, that is their actual name) are notorious for delaying or cancelling their flights, and we wanted to make sure that we could make our flight to Sydney the day after tomorrow. Fortunately, we didn’t experience any delays, and so we had some time to see Tongatapu as well.


We decided to go for a local meal for dinner; Oka Ita ceviche (raw fish marinated in coconut juice). It was so good!

The next morning, we rented a scooter, and went for a ride around the island.

The king’s palace in Nuku’alofa
Combining traditional with modern: wearing the tapa mat with earphones
Sorry no stadn Chair – I brok!!!
Vroom vroom!
Beautiful beaches on the nothern side of the island
The Royal Tombs at Mu’a; Ancient burial site for old kings

Around the tombs, you could clearly hear stomping, indicating women beating dried strips of mulberry bark (which we also saw drying on a line in Vava’u) on anvils. This process is used to create the tapa cloth all Tongans have in their houses, and which is also given as a gift during religious and wedding ceremonies.

Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon or “Coral Stonehenge”. Each of the 3 ancient slabs of stone weigh about 40 tonnes!

After another half hour of scootering, we saw a beach on the east side of the island on Google Maps, and decided to check it out. Laulea beach was gorgeous and abandoned, full of countless of types of seashells and fire coral at the shore. See also the top image, it’s from shells and coral found at this beach only!

Upon closer inspection, we found some of the shells moving around! We spotted at least 50 crabs together, which I’m pretty sure is some kind of record:)

Dozens of crabs in colourful shells

From there, we walked to this arch below:

Gorgeous arch at abandoned Laulea beach
Well hello there:)

Back on the road again, we spotted many fields of taro with coconut trees.

There are fields of mainly taro around the island
The cliffs at Hufangalupe Archway
Hufangalupe Archway
Pretty Hufangalupe beach near the archway. We wanted to climb down there, but couldn’t find the way:(

We went to another beach to kill the time until sunset, when we wanted to be at the blowholes. Apparently, sunset’s the best time of day to see them.

Going past a colourful burial site to get to the beach. Not bad lying here among the palmtrees and hearing the waves crashing in the background (not to mention beer bottles all around you)!
Manchild playing with driftwood

We got back on our scooter to head to the blowholes, and as we were 10km away in the middle of taro fields, our scooter died on us!

Turns out the fuel was gone, which we didn’t know as our fuel gauge didn’t work, and the owner had told us we’d have enough for the whole trip… After pushing the scooter for 10 minutes, we found 3 guys who just came from church, in their nice clothes, to work in the fields. When they saw us, they offered to drive us to the gas station so we could buy some gas for our scooter. And that’s why they call Tonga “the friendly islands”! Disaster averted, and still in time for our sunset,we thanked them and headed towards the blowholes near Houma. What a sight they are!

Mapu ‘A Vaea Blowholes


Up next: Sydney, to go on our very first cruise!

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