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Tonga Travel

Introduction

Tonga is an island nation and archipelago in the South Pacific. It has great beaches, coral gardens, and pockets of tropical rainforest. It is the only monarchy left in the Pacific and to this day has retained much of its culture and customs.

Climate

The climate is subtropical with a warmer period between December to April where temperatures reach upward and beyond 32 °C (90 °F). A cooler period follows in May to November with temperatures reaching 27 °C (80 °F). March is generally wetter. Humidity is around 80% throughout the year.

Administrative Groups

Tonga is divided into three island groups:

History

In 1845, Tonga was part of a greater Polynesian kingdom. Thirty years later in 1875 it became a monarchy. At the turn of the century in 1900, it became a British protectorate and in 1970 it gained independence and became part of the Commonwealth. It remains the only monarchy in the Pacific today.

Getting around

To get between the three island groups you need to take a plane but there is a chance of getting there on a boat or yacht. Real Tonga and Chathams Pacific operates some interisland flights within Tonga.

To get around the main island, Tongatapu, there are a number of tours on offer. Tour operators are not hard to find if you look around the centre of Nuku'alofa. Hiring a car from familiar car rental franchises can be organised at a travel agent, and there are also a number of cheaper cars from less known outlets that you can visit yourself. There are almost no road signs on Tongatapu so you'll need a good map if you're touring in a car. To be eligible to drive a car, you need to have a current drivers license from your country and in addition buy a Tongan driving licence. This can be organised at the Police station in Nuku'alofa and seems more of a revenue exercise than anything else. The speed limit in Tongatapu is 40kph and it is recommended that you stick to it considering the state of the roads outside Nuku'alofa. Within Nuku'alofa the roads are good. Renting a car is the easiest way to explore the island and gives you the freedom to see all the attractions at your own pace.

Language

Tongan is the official language, but English is understood due to it being the language of choice in high schools.

Currency

The Pa'anga, (or Tongan dollar) is the national currency. Coins are called seniti and there are 100 seniti to a pa'anga. There are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 denominations for both coins and notes.

Food

Nuku'alofa offers a good range of restaurants and bars considering it is not a big town. In town there are a few places for eating around the main market and post office. Twenty minutes from there is the ferry terminal where there are more restaurants which specialise in seafood.

Alcohol

Fijian, Australian, and New Zealand beer is available as well as some local brews. The local beer is 'Ikale' and is available at most restaurants and bars. Chinese roadside shops and supermarkets also sell beer.

Kava is a local drink that you can try. It is actually a tranquilizer but it relaxes you without affecting mental clarity. It is made from the roots of the Kava plant. The drink is the same as 'awa' in Hawaii.

 

Tonga Tourism



  

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Author & photographer: David Johnson (Virtual Oceania)


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