Tonga is one of the only places in the world where you can snorkel 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.
Snorkelling and Scuba Diving in Tonga
Humpback Whales Tonga is one of only 3 places on Earth where swimmer 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 - September
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.
Guide to Tonga
Getting You Started
The Kingdom of Tonga is located in the heart of the South Pacific, east of Fiji and to the south of Samoa and just west of the International Dateline. Tonga consists of 176 islands of which only approx. 37 of the islands are inhabited. Tonga is divided into four main groups-Tongatapu in the south, Ha’apai and Vava’u, then Niuas in the extreme north. Tongatapu is the largest island on which the capital city Nuku’alofa is located.
The international country code for Tonga is 676. Tonga is 13 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Entry & Visa Requirements (subject to change)
U.S. , British, Commonwealth and most E.E.C visitors do not need to obtain a visa before arrival for stays of up to 31 days.
Medical & Health Requirements
Hospital services are available in Nuku’alofa, there are also dispensaries, chemists and pharmacies available throughout Tonga. There is no recompression chamber in Tonga, the closest one is located in Fiji. There are no major health risks in Tonga. It is recommended to make sure your hepatitis and typhoid shots are up to date. Remember that some medications can make you sun sensitive, so extra care must be taken to ensure that skin is protected from sun burn. Please check with your physician for the best precautions to be taken. (For further details contact Travel Vax on 1300 360 164).
The currency of Tonga is Pa’anga (TOP) also known as the Tongan dollar. Foreign exchange is available at most banks and major hotels. Visa, MasterCard and American Express credit cards are accepted at most hotels.
1 AUD = approximately 1.60 Pa'anga (Sep 2013)
Baggage (International flights Ex Australia)Virgin Australia -23kg (except Saver Lite fares - Nil baggage)
Air New Zealand-1 or 2 pieces max. 23kg per piece depending on airfare purchased (Subject to change without notice)
Real Tonga(domestic carrier in Tonga) -20kg
(Subject to change without notice)
The allowance is 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco, 1 litre of alcohol and a reasonable amount of perfume.
Tonga enjoys a more comfortable climate and is slightly cooler than that of most tropical areas. It receives less rain than other tropical areas with an temperature average of 26°C from May to October. The wetter more humid season lasts from November to April with temperatures rising up to 32°C.
The emphasis is on light and casual clothing but not too brief in public places. Swimwear is not permitted in the public areas of hotels. It is illegal for any person not to wear a shirt in public places. Remember to cover up with light cotton clothing at dusk and dawn to prevent mosquito bites. Sun protection is absolutely essential.
240 volts AC, Plug I – same as Australia. (For further details refer to http://www.kropla.com/electric2.htm).
Trading banks are ANZ and Westpac Bank of Tonga, located on the three main islands, including ATM facilities. Banking hours are 09.00am to 4.00pm Monday to Friday, with some opening on Saturday mornings, hours may vary from island to island.
Tongan is the official language however English is widely spoken and used in formal meetings.
This devoutly Christian nation honours Sunday across all islands, the Sabbath is declared sacred in Tonga. Most non-tourist services are closed on Sunday.
The urban water is safe to drink from the tap, however sterilisation is recommended and bottled water is sold everywhere. In the tropics it is important to drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids to avoid dehydration.
The main shopping centre is at the Commercial Centre situated in Nuku’alofa. There are also smaller shops selling clothing, souvenirs, handcrafts and gifts throughout the smaller islands. Tongans are renowned for their handi crafts, particularly elaborate tapa cloths. Shops in general are open between 8.00am to 5.00pm weekdays, and Saturday mornings. Most villages have a small shop open daily with general supplies.
Tipping is neither expected nor encouraged.
Diving is good in any of the major island groups. Tonga is renowned for it’s caves, dropoffs, pinnacles and visibility that in places reaches 40 metres, making the snorkelling and diving spectacular. A 3-5mm suit is recommended. Dive operators supply tanks, weight belts and dive guide services. There will be an extra charge if equipment hire is required.
There is currently no locally paid departure taxes for Tonga.