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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tongatapu, meaning 'sacred land', is the Kingdom of Tonga's largest island and home to the capital, Nuku'alofa. The international airport Fua'amotu, is there, as well as major shipping facilities for passenger and cargo vessels, inter-island craft and cruising yachts. As a result, most visitors go to Tongatapu.

It is a relatively flat island with a good network of roads making it easy to get around. It takes two full days to explore Tongatapu as it has many historical sites and beautiful beaches on the eastern side and natural landmarks on the western side, none of which should be rushed.

Family and religion are very important to Tongans. Each family member plays an important role and older members command much respect. Women enjoy higher social status than in other parts of Polynesia and they have certain authority over male family members. Every family member helps out in the care and discipline of younger children, and as often as not, the little one may live with grandparents. First and twenty-first birthdays, marriages and funerals are very important events.

Almost all Tongans are churchgoers. They are staunchly Christian and Sunday is a day honoured across every island group. The Sabbath is declared forever sacred in the Tongan Constitution. Almost everything is closed. No sporting events take place, it is unlawful to work or trade, fishing and swimming by locals is prohibited, contracts may not be signed and there should be no noise.

The island's most impressive building is the Royal Palace, built in 1867 from white timber and prefabricated in New Zealand. The Royal Chapel adjoins the palace. The town's churches are beautiful — the Basilica of St Anthony of Padua opposite the royal tombs and the Centenary Chapel behind Mt Zion are worth visiting for their beautiful ceilings and stained glass. Visitors are welcome, but must observe the respectful dress code.

Fafa Island is a fifteen minute boat ride and the only development on it is the Fafa Island Resort, seven hectares of palm covered atoll. Owned by a German couple who fell in love with Tonga on a visit, the island is surrounded by a coral reef, ensuring safe swimming and snorkelling in the lagoon's crystal waters. It has deserted sandy beaches perfect for picnics and soaking up the sun.

Everything has been kept to the Tongan way. Fales, which all face the beach, are traditionally constructed — walls are woven from palm fronds, floors are palm timber and roofs are wooden shingles. All fales have a courtyard, covered veranda, king beds, dressing room, ceiling fan, hammock and beach beds. Bathrooms and shower are semi open in a private flower garden. Water is solar heated.

Snorkelling gear and paddle skis are complimentary and scuba diving and deep sea fishing can be arranged.

A maximum of twenty-six guests stay at any one time and guests enjoy the Pacific/European gourmet dishes created at Fafa. They are served under the stars in the open air restaurant, on the beach or in the traditional thatched fale.


The Kingdom of Tonga.


Talpacific Holidays has a pay for five, stay for seven night package, including accommodation in a superior fale at Fafa Island Resort and airport transfers for $679 per person, twin share. Valid for sale until March 31, 2007 and for stays between June 5 and 30, 2006, October 1 and December 15, 2006 and January 15 and March 31, 2007.

Pacific Blue has flights to Tongatapu with limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one-way on the net. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at June 22, 2006 and are subject to change.

One-way fare from; Sydney, $349 Brisbane and Melbourne, $399 Adelaide, $429

Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

For further information

Fafa Island Resort
Box 1444
Kingdom of Tonga
Ph: 676 22 800
Fax: 676 23 592

Talpacific Holidays
Level 2, 645 Harris Street
Ultimo NSW 2007
Ph: 1300 665 737
Fax: (02) 9212 6343

Talpacific Holidays
Level 7, 255 Adelaide Street
Brisbane Qld 4000
Ph: (07) 3218 9900
Fax: (07) 3229 7073

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