Tongatapu Island Group
The Tongatapu Island Group is the southernmost island group of the Tonga archipelago. Here is the largest island of the state – Tongatapu with an area of 259 square meters. km. In the northern part of this coral island, on a small isthmus that separates the Fangaut lagoon from the sea, is the capital of the country and its economic center – the city of Nuku’alofa . The main attraction of Nuku’alofa is the residence of the ruling family of the kingdom – the Royal Palace. The palace was built in New Zealand and was moved to the island of Tongotapu at the end of the 19th century. It is surrounded by a vast park where the burial complex of Malaekula is located. with the tombs of the kings of the state. The palace is closed to the public. In the vicinity of the palace , Pangao Sii Park, the churches of Centenary and St. Anthony of Padua and the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Mary are of interest. In Nuku’alofa, it is also worth visiting the War Memorial, dedicated to the soldiers who fell during the First and Second World Wars, the Tonga National Center on Main Street, which tells about the culture of the archipelago, its traditional crafts, the tradition of producing cava drink and the royal family, Women’s Cultural Center where you can see traditional products, and the Talamaho market, where many vendors gather every Saturday selling a variety of souvenirs and products.
According to Top-mba-universities, the eastern part of the island of Tongatapu is known for its historical sights. An archaeological reserve is located 30 km east of Nukualofa in the Lapaha region on 23 hectares of land. At the entrance to the reserve stands the stone megalith of Haamong Maui. It was built around the 10th century AD. as the gate of the royal palace. The megalith weighs several tens of tons and consists of two huge stone pillars on which lies a stone slab. This building is dedicated to the Polynesian god Maui, who, according to legend, raised the Tonga archipelago from the ocean. The archaeological reserve also contains the tombs of the sacred leaders of the archipelago – Langi. The burial complex is made of limestone blocks in the form of pyramids, the height of which reaches 4 m. In the vicinity you can see the remains of the buildings of the ancient capital of the archipelago – Mua – and a memorial plaque installed at the landing site of James Cook.
Be sure to visit the south coast of the island of Tongatapu. Here, 15 km from Nuku’alofa near the village of Houma, on a windy day, you can see an amazing sight, the so-called “geysers”. When the sea is not calm through many holes in the underwater reefs, the water rushes up, forming fountains up to 20 m high. Also on the south coast is the Wildlife Center with a small bird park and a botanical garden.
In the western part of the island of Tongatapu near the village of Kolovai along the coast stretches the most popular beach of the island – Haatafu. Here is the natural reserve of the same name. This is the only nature reserve on the island that can be reached by road. In addition to being home to 130 species of tropical fish, a variety of soft and hard corals, the reserve is known for its surfing opportunities. In the period from April to November, a stable southeast trade wind prevails on the islands of the archipelago, which forms fairly high waves off the coast. This is the best time for surfing. In principle, summer (December-March) rainy months are also suitable for surfing, but the most favorable climatic conditions and the biggest waves occur from June to August. It is worth remembering that the islands are surrounded by coral reefs, which can easily hurt you, and in general, only trained tourists will be able to surf in these places. A specialized surf resort has been operating on Haatafu Beach since 1979. For accommodation, tourists are offered 10 bungalows, accommodating 24 people, with all amenities. Such a small number of places determines the atmosphere of the resort – it is a quiet, calm place where surfers go with their whole families or friendly companies.
In addition to Haatafu Beach, there are several other protected areas on the island of Tongatapu. In the eastern part of Nuku’alofa Bay is the Pangaimotu Reef Sanctuary. It covers an area of 48 hectares and protects mangrove forests, underwater fields of Zostera seagrass, fish and a variety of invertebrates. On the northern coast of the island of Tongatapu, on the shores of the Fangauta and Fangakakau lagoons, the Marine Reserve is spread over an area of 2835 hectares. On the coast here you can see mangroves and salt marshes, where birds such as the Pacific black duck, Pacific reef heron, tern and Pacific golden plover live. In addition, a variety of tropical fish and invertebrates are found in the waters of the lagoons. 7 km north of Nuku’alofa in the Malinoa Island Reserve on an area of 73 hectares inhabited by octopuses, groupers and numerous colorful tropical fish. Also north of Nuku’alofa will be of interest to the Monuafe Island Reserve and the Hakaumamao Reef Reserve, where parrot fish are protected.
Secluded resorts are located on small islands off the northern coast of Tongatapu. The most popular resorts are located on the islands of Atata, Fafa, Pangaimotu and Royal Sunset. Nuku’alofa has a dive center called Cape Baron, which offers dive tours to the coral reefs surrounding the islands. 40 km southeast of the island of Tongatapu is the mountainous island of Eua. This is one of the best places in the country for hiking. The island is so small that it can be easily explored on foot or by bike or horse. Tourists come here to visit the Eua Island National Park. The park covers an area of 450 hectares and protects the most extensive area of tropical forest in the archipelago. About 120 species of birds live in the local forests, including the red-breasted parrot “coki” that lives only on this island, as well as rare Pacific pigeon, collared kingfisher, red crowned spotted pigeon and lorikit. Numerous hiking trails of the park pass through observation platforms, which are located on the slopes of the mountains, through karst caves and picturesque beaches. On the northern cape of the island of Eua, in a place called Anokula, a beautiful view of the inaccessible eastern coast of the island, which is fringed by 120-meter cliffs, opens up. The coastal waters of the island of Eua are no less interesting. It is home to some of the largest cave systems in the South Pacific, including the famous Casidral Cave.