Tonga is the only remaining kingdom in the South Pacific. The independent archipelago is made up of 176 islands and lies around a third of the way between New Zealand and Hawaii, south of Samoa and east of Fiji. They are also known as the Friendly Islands, a name endowed by Captain Cook because of the friendly reception he received there.
Nuku'alofa, the capital, is the commercial, transport and social centre of Tonga. About 35 percent of the kingdom's population lives there and it is where the royal family lives in the Tonga Royal Palace. The town is not particularly attractive, but Talamahu market is a good place to visit on Saturdays, and there are a few cafés and restaurants there.
Tongans love to party beware the kava but Sundays are very special for the deeply religious people. Church services are warm and musical, and visitors are welcome to join the worshipping.
Deserted beaches offer snorkelling in coral gardens and sipping the milk of coconuts right from the tree. After a trip to the markets to check out the beautiful handicraft of local women, most people choose to stay around their hotel pool or on the beach.
If you are an adventurous traveller wanting more excitement than lazing under the palms, the island of Vava'u is worth considering. You could explore it by car, but there is a more exciting option. Hit the road on a Kart Safari.
It really is a fantastic way to see everything in just three hours. There are fantastic lookouts and beaches, remote villages and tropical plantations. Hop in the driver's seat and follow your guide along dirt tracks, through the Tongan bush. Be prepared to get wet as you fly through puddles!
Vava'u's hilly terrain is blanketed by lush tropical vegetation. There are lofty trees, fragrant pandanus and screw pines, casuarina and mulberry trees, the bark of which is used by locals to make fine tapa cloth.
The island has a bounty of fruit and nut trees broad-leafed banana, breadfruit, tropical almond and coconut palms.
There are one- and two-seater karts, and they include harness seats, helmets, clothing and a dry place for stowing your gear.
Gateway to Paradise is a local company dedicated to putting the icing on your holiday cake. The only thing you will need to do is to pack your bags and they will take care of the rest. Tell them your holiday dream and they will tailor the perfect itinerary.
The Tongan Island group.
Vava'u Adventures has three-hour Kart Safaris. They start at around $90 per person.
Pacific Blue has flights to Nuku'alofa starting at $349 from Sydney, $399 from Brisbane and Melbourne and $429 from Adelaide. Connections to Vava'u are available.
Prices quoted correct at 08.11.2007
For more information
PO Box 110, Neiafu
Vavau Island Group
Kingdom Of Tonga
Gateway to Paradise
Box 63, Post Office
Kingdom of Tonga
Ph: +676 874 0241
Ph: 13 6789
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