There is so much to discover in these unexploited lands. On Tongatapu, the main island, you can explore blowholes, caves, a trilithon, and natural and ancient wonders without masses of tourists - it feels as if you were the first person to make the find. The Royal Palace in the capital Nuku'alofa, was constructed in 1867, and is one of the most well known images of Tonga, and is just a few leisurely minutes walk from Loumaile Lodge.
The Ha'amonga 'a Maui Trilithon was built by the 11th Tu'i Tonga around 1200 A.D. and was once thought to be the gateway to the King's residence. In more recent times, the structure has been interpreted as a solar observatory for determining the equinoxes. Behind the trilithon you'll find the 'Esi Makafakinanga - the largest backrest you'll ever see. There are other ancient monuments too: many of the Lapaha pyramid-like tombs are overgrown, and would make great settings for an Indiana Jones film.
After visiting these features, why not have a secluded, idyllic swimming beach all to yourself? Scattered around Tongatapu's coastline are small sandy beaches that are infrequently visited. It's so easy to forget that you're in the modern era when you wander onto one of these beaches that can easily feel like the mythical time when the great Polynesian god Maui fished up the islands of the South Pacific.
On Sundays in Tonga, the whole country virtually closes down - only bakeries can open in the afternoon. In the morning, the stirring sound of heartfelt choirs and church bells ring across the land under the first sunrise in the world. And when you experience this in such a beautiful setting, Creation doesn't seem like such a bad idea after all.
Whatever your interests are in nature or outdoor activities, the Kingdom of Tonga has something wondrous for you to discover. There are palm-fringed beaches to rainforests, volcanoes, to diving and lagoons, and warm blue water with plenty of marine life. You can swim with carefree humpback whales that visit from July to October. Or kayak and swim around tranquil, heavenly islands. Cave deep into the unknown on 'Eua, where caves above and below water are yet to be explored!
Ha'apai, in the middle of the Kingdom, is so quiet and isolated that you may wonder if Europeans had visited at all. The long sandy beached, low coral islands, with a towering volcano in the background, are so reminiscent of the musical film South Pacific (1958) as to be bewildering. There is little Western influence here, and the locals are extremely friendly, if not a little shy, from the lack of visitors!
Watching a sunrise here is one of the most magical experiences one can hope to enjoy. There are ancient ruins to be found here too, but the most beauty is in the local Church services, the children, the long beaches that go forever, and coral reefs in pristine waters, bustling with colourful marine life.
Mountain biking, four-wheel driving, bush walking and rock climbing, all take on a surprisingly new and unique perspective when experienced in the Kingdom of Tonga. Take for example Tongatapu, the main island in the Kingdom, which covers 250sq. km. Its flatness and number of attractions makes it the ultimate place to mountain bike: through plantations of coffee, coconuts, taro, papaya, and manioke, to beaches and cliffs, and from caves to flying foxes. And to the sound of tapa-making. There is no other place like it!
This exotic, remote location is far more accessible than one could be led to believe. Air New Zealand, Air Pacific, Pacific Blue and Polynesian Airlines service the Kingdom of Tonga with flights six days a week, making it so easy to come and stay at Loumaile Lodge.
by David Mulliss