A trip to Tonga

June 2004



Malo e lelei

I somehow had the feeling that this trip will be a little different as planned. Not that I had huge plans, but somehow the islands in the Pacific evoke images of palm trees, sun, lonely islands, swimming and snorkeling in the great bathtub of the Pacific...

One week before I took off, a friend told me that Royal Tongan Airlines canceled all their international flights due to financial difficulties. At first I thought it was a joke, but it turned out to be true. I was booked in on an Air NZ flight to go to Tonga, but was hoping to catch a domestic flight with good ol' kings trusty plane. In the following week all the domestic flights were canceled too.

If you want to know about my adventures on Tonga, I invite you to read my travel story on the following pages.

Have Fun



The arrival hall of Tonga's small airport is quite dull and the dress of the other travelers already indicates that it is not ideal operating temperature. The arrival procedure is extremely slow although there is not much more than a stamp to it. Once outside I meet Willie who gives me a very pleasant ride to the guesthouse. I like the speed limit on Tonga's roads. It's 40km/h



I am really glad that I didn't take my bicycle along. The distances are much further than they look on the map and at night I would not have found the right turnoffs in Tongatapu's road jungle. There are too many roads and far too many cars...



The hut in the back is my home for the first few days. Toni's Guesthouse is in the suburbs of Nuku'alofa. Not really close to the beach and nowhere in particular, but nevertheless good people and a bed. At night it can get quite noisy, barking dogs, crowing roosters and from 4:30 in the morning the sound of the gas bottles, church bells in disguise. They call for the morning service followed by a church choir. An hour after that the percussion orchestra of the tapa makers sets in. The neighbors' Reggae music at 7:30 is rather sedating in comparison.



But the guesthouse is also catering for the deaf, as an example the lovely Lilies on the pond.



On demand Toni takes his guests on a tour around the island. Tongatapu is relatively flat, about 60km long and 5-6km wide. Nuku'alofa itself has not a lot of atmosphere, there even is a daily rush hour with traffic jams!!! Outside town however the countryside can be really nice. Toni knows some really special places.



We pass a very strange looking coconut palm which forks in two heads. That is rather strange behaviour for a palm tree and I wonder whether the fallout from the nuclear tests in the pacific are showing there effects...



After a while we come to a cemetery. The surrounding trees are home for the flying foxes (giant bats).



Only the king and his family have the privilege to hunt the only "game" of Tongatapu.



Big old trees are rare on this island.



But nearly every house has a big Mango tree (and a matching car wreck) in its front yard.



We carry on along the empty tar-sealed road towards Northwest until we reach Ha'atafu, the only surf beach on Tongatapu.



Today the sea is quite calm. In front of the sheltering reef there is good snorkeling and swimming. The temperature of the water is pleasant, but the air outside is a little bit on the cool side.


On the next pages we will explore Tonga's wild life. Whoever rather wants to go home now should turn the computer off or simply click this link . But for the brave traveler who has a spirit of adventurer we recommend clicking on.

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