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Insiders Guide to Tonga

Kayaking Tonga 2
Kayaking Tonga 1
Tonga Royal Palace
Tonga 1
Tonga 2
Tonga 3
Swim with whales Tonga
Kids Tonga

Insiders Guide to Tonga

story by: Tom Ricketts

1. ALL THE FUN OF KAYAKING, WITHOUT ALL THE WORK
Discover Tonga's beautiful beaches, islands and reefs by kayak. But these aren’t your normal kayaks, they’re jet powered! Jump aboard your kayak and cruise through the pristine waters with your guide who’ll take you to all the best beaches. How are jet powered kayaks not a bigger deal?!
HOT Tip: This is an excellent option for families as the kids can keep up without tiring out.


2. MAKE IT A MULTI DAY KAYAKING ADVENTURE
If you happen to like all the work that comes with kayaking, a multi day kayaking adventure with the Friendly Islands Kayak Company might be just the thing for you. The islands of both the Vava’u and Ha’apai Groups are scattered about but protected with reefs and shoals, creating perfect kayaking conditions. There’s guided adventures from three to eleven days, and all standards of accommodation available along the way.
HOT Tip: If you really want to get off the beaten track to some remote and pristine locations, opt for one of the camping tours which aren’t limited to visiting islands with hotels on them.


3. A ROYAL HISTORY
The Kingdom of Tonga is unique in the South Pacific for being the only country not colonised by a foreign power! The nation retains its own royal family, complete with a royal palace in Nuku’alofa. The Stonehenge like Ha'amonga 'a Maui is easily the most significant historical site in the country, and is believed to have been an entranceway to a royal palace, with the remains of a royal throne located a few metres away.
HOT Tip: A lot of the royal areas are off limits to tourists and have little information, so hands down the best way to learn the unique history of Tonga is on a guided tour.


4. A SAILORS PARADISE
The northern Vava’u Island Group is an absolute paradise for sailors. The beautiful islands are dotted with natural harbours, secluded coves; and countless remote, isolated white sand beaches.
HOT Tip: The aptly named Port Refuge Harbour is home to the scenic village of Neiafu, a must visit.


5. SWIM WITH GIANTS
Along with nearby Niue, Tonga is one of the few places in the world where you can actually swim with whales! Humpbacks are most common, and come here to calve yearly. The best spot to see them is in the Ha’apai Island Group.
HOT Tip: These magnificent mammals visit between July and October each year, perfect for a Kiwi winter getaway.


6. EXPLORE NUKU’ALOFA
The bustling capital city of Nuku’alofa will no doubt be your first stop in the country, it is where the airport is located after all. The city is beast explored on foot, and not complete without a visit to the Langafonua Handicrafts Centre where you’ll find authentic art, carvings, craftwork and clothing.
HOT Tip: Try to time your visit for a Saturday so you can drop by the lively Talamahu Market, packed full of fresh produce and tropical goodies.


7. HAVE A SINGALONG
Tonga’s church services are famous around the Pacific for their singing. The locals really get into the hymns, and deliver with surprising skill and harmony. St Joseph’s Cathedral in Naiafu is beautiful, and Nuku’alofa’s Free Church of Tonga is the pick of the bunch there.
HOT Tip: Most of the sermons are delivered in Tongan, but occasionally break into English if there’s a number of visitors about. And if you’re planning on staying for the whole sermon, make sure you take a fan!


8. GET OFFROAD
Sure, you’re coming to Tonga for some R&R, but you can spare half a day for a bit of adrenaline right? The Kart Safari’s on Vava’u are the way to go. Hoon along the beach, ​down forest tracks and past local villages in this super fun adventure which just happens to be the best way to see more than the beach too.
HOT Tip: There’s only a few carts, so have your House of Travel consultant book you in advance. And be prepared for mud!

> VIEW HOT DEALS TO TONGA HERE

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