Tonga is a small but proud Polynesian nation with its own monarchy. The climate is beautiful, with an average temperature in the mid 20s. It’s a strongly Christian country that pretty much shuts down on Sundays.
Most locals live within small villages in very simple houses on land that has been in their family for multiple generations. It’s a common site to see pigs on the front lawn, kids wondering barefoot down dirt roads and men hanging out in the village hall drinking Kava, late into the evenings. It’s hard to believe a place so different to urban New Zealand life is only a few hours away by plane.
Things you must see & do
If you’re into diving you might want to head out to the Vava’u group of islands which has a plethora of good spots. Vava’u is also great for whale watching and you can get up close and personal with them through a range of operators.
If you’re keen to chill at some unspoilt beaches, the Ha’apai group has plenty of coconut palm lined spots you’ll love.
Keen trampers should go bush and head for the hills of ‘Eua Island.
It can rain for days on end in Tonga so if you’re after blue skies and lots of sun it would probably pay to head there in the dry season between May and October.
Make sure you get along to a traditional Tongan feast, usually accompanied by traditional dancing – it gives a great insight into the Tongan people and their culture.
The coral is sharp in Tonga so make sure you wear reef shoes while in the water. There are also jellyfish. Some people swear by vinegar to treat jellyfish stings.
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