Tonga is the only remaining kingdom in the South Pacific. The independent archipelago is made up of 176 islands and lies about 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, the name given 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 cafes and restaurants there.
kava (an intoxicating beverage) 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 juice of coconuts right from the tree. After a trip to the markets and 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 gorgeous 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 natives 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 seat harnesses, 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 starting at about $120 per person for single carts and $180 for double.
Pacific Blue has flights to Nuku'alofa.
One-way fares from:
- Sydney $349
- Melbourne and Brisbane $399
- Adelaide $429
There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one-way on the Internet. 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 July 17, 2008 and are subject to change.
Connections to Vava'u are available.
Prices correct at July 17, 2008.
For further information
PO Box 110, Neiafu
Vava'u Island Group
Kingdom of Tonga
Ph/Fax: +676 70493
Gateway to Paradise
PO Box 63
Kingdom of Tonga
Ph: +676 59077
< a href=mailto:email@example.com>firstname.lastname@example.org
Ph: 136 789
It is recommended travellers to Tonga see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information visit www.welltogo.com.au.
Check out our celebrity Getaway blog or our photo gallery for more Getaway adventure pics.