Tonga is one of the only places in the world where you can scuba dive with whales up close.
Tonga is a tiny island kingdom left behind by the hustle and bustle of the modern world. In Tonga you will experience unspoilt views that have pleasured many people over many years. Tonga is the only remaining Polynesian Kingdom and is not a mass destination like Fiji or Hawaii.
Tonga has a NNE/SSW orientation with 176 islands ranging from high volcanic to low coral terrain that creates scenic variety unlike anywhere else in the world. The islands are divided into four groups with Nuku'alofa, the capital, located on the main island of Tongatapu. It is more developed than its neighbours but still maintains an unhurried and peaceful lifestyle. English is widely spoken, and travellers are sure to receive a friendly greeting from the locals.
Geographical Information: Tonga lies about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand. The largest island, Tongatapu, is approximately 2,000 kilometers (1245 miles) northeast of Auckland, N.Z. From the Island of Nuku Alofa in the north, Tonga stretches nearly 1000 kilometers, to the Minerva Reef in the south.
Scuba Diving in Tonga
Humpback Whales Tonga is one of the only places on Earth where divers and snorkellers can get up close to humpback whales. Humpback whales migrate from their feeding grounds in Antarctica, along the New Zealand coast, to the Kindom of Tonga where they stay from July through September to court, mate and calve. This represents an incredible and unique opportunity to witness these enormous and majestic creatures in their natural environment.
Best season: July - October
Caverns and Wrecks Vava'u has many interesting and unique cavern dives with spectacular underwater archways, tunnels, large black coral trees and wall dives that vanish into the inky darkness. There is little in the way of currents and most dives are leisurely swim throughs. For wreck dive enthusiasts the 122 metre wreck of the Clan McWilliam that sank over 50 years ago, sits upright and is still intact.
The Tongan Islands are surrounded by beautiful white coral sands and lagoons simmering with marine life. Come and dive in this relaxed and timeless island paradise, where the weather barely differs.
The average air temperature in the northern islands is 27°C, while the southern islands average 23°C and the high 20s in the summer. By November, the water temperatures reach as high as 28°C, and then drop down as low as 21°C during their winter months.
Tonga offers you the opportunity to dive near volcanoes, shipwrecks, canyons and coral reefs. There are stunning fish and visibility of up to 70m.
Just a few kilometers from Tongatapu, Eua is Tonga's superior nature experience. It is a secluded and uninterrupted which allows you to soak up the tranquility and peacefulness of this island.
Home of the National Park you will be sure to see some native birds and local Flora. Eua homes several simple quest houses all looked after to a treat by the local family. Between July and November be sure to look out over the water, Humpback whales come to the Eua bay to breed in the pleasant surroundings.
The Whale watch season starts around the end of July and continues through the end of October.
As a guest of Fafa Island, you too can experience the friendliness and charm of the most hospitable people imaginable. The Island is comfortable yet unintrusive, free from the distrations of modern life yet with the precious commodity of relaxation and recreation.
Since only a tiny portion of Fafa is developed for the comfort of guests, the main part of the island remains in natural island vegetation. This can be explored by an adventurous bush trail, taking a leasurely 20 minutes, after which you may like to rest at one of the many laid back bars.
Once you get to this peaceful island, you will quickly realize that time has stopped and you feel as though nobody could intrude your open views of this relaxing location. There is a variety of accommodation and activities to keep you busy.
Discover the gorgeous coral reefs by hiring a boat and discover the many islands that Ha'apai has to offer. If you are lucky you could literally be the only people on the island. The island group is close to some of the world's best game fishing, which invites you, to catch and cook your own.
Tongatapu is home to the capital - Nuku'alofa. This is the centre of Government and business and it is where the Royal Family lives. Its terrain is flat making it easy to explore the island by car, bike or foot. Most visitors arrive at Fua'amotu International Airport, about 15km South-East of Nuku'alofa.
Tongatapu is the hub of this island chain in western Polynesia. If you can't live without some sports, rugby is the game here. A little nightlife and low-key shopping; Tongatapu will help ease the transition to the rest of Tonga.
If it is a Sunday, a visit to church is a must to hear the voices of angels. Another thing not to be missed is The Royal Palace and The Royal Tombs and don't forget the markets - it is a hub of activity, particularly on a Saturday morning. If you need to unwind then go to one of the offshore islands and soak up the idyllic South Pacific atmosphere.
Or if you are interested in an adventure take a day trip or overnight trip to 'Eua and explore its rugged and wild natural beauty - a must for bush walkers and bird watchers.
Vava'u - October 2009 TRIP
From the island of Tongatapu and the capital of Nuku'Alofa, a scenic flight Vava'u takes just over one hour. This is a great place to enjoy world-class diving, whale watching, fishing, secluded beaches, translucent water and peaceful surrounds.
The Vava'u Archipelago is the the northernmost group of islands in the Kingdom of Tonga at latitude 18.5' South.
There are many reasons to visit this lovely Island of Tonga. Long expanses of golden beaches, crystal clear waters, dramatic coastal scenery and volcanic peaks, a warm lifestyle that makes the other pacific islands look hectic in comparison to the warm and welcoming nature of the Tongan people.
Vava'u offers the opportunity for you to get up close and swim with the amazing Humpback Whales. They travel to Tonga to begin the breading process which starts early June, and they stay in the warm waters until they start heading on their way home at the beginning of November.
Where we stayed: The Hilltop Hotel
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Dive Vava'u: Took us to snorkel with the whales and dive the big blue.
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Time Zone: Approx. 13 hours ahead of GMT.
Electricity:Electricity is 240 volts AC 50 cycles (same as UK, Australia and New Zealand)
Climate:Tonga has a comfortable tropical climate ranging from 25 C to 33 C during most of the year until July & September when the weather temperatures are pleasantly cool at 17-22C.
Visa Requirements:You do not need to obtain a visa before arrival. Travelers must hold a current passport a return ticket and enough money to sustain your stay
Currency and banking: The Tongan dollar or Pa'anga (TOP) equals 100 seniti (cents). Foreign exchange is available at most banks and major hotels. AUD$1 = $1.45TOP (subject to change). ATM's are not yet in Tonga but Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. Banks are open 9-4 on weekdays and on Saturday mornings.
Health:Malaria is not a problem but a repellent is recommended to take. There is some chance of bacteria based infections. There are no major communicable diseases. Language:English is widely spoken and used in formal environments, yet Tongan or Pidgin is widely used.
Tipping:Tipping is not expected in Tonga, but rewarding for good service is not an offence. Bargaining is not practiced and the asked price is what they expect to receive.
Dress:Light casual clothing is normal but too brief in public is not recommended. Swimwear is not permitted in public areas such as hotels. Tongan law requires people to wear a shirt at all times.
Food & Drink:Don't drink tap water (boiled or bottled water is recommended) and keep up fluids to avoid the risk of de-hydration. A wide variety of food is available. Local meat, poultry and seafood are generally considered safe to eat. To prevent possible stomach ailments, wash vegetables and fruit with boiled water and boil any questionable drinking water before use.
Departure Tax:The departure tax is TOP$25 (around AUD$16, as at 31 Jan 07). People who are 24hour transit passengers and children under 12 are exempt.
When to go: The humpback whales are typically in Tongan waters between May and October.
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