Tonga is the only remaining Polynesian Kingdom. The Kingdom of Tonga’s history dates back over
3,000 years with many ancient traditions continuing respectfully through to the present day. Tongan
culture is centred around its value of the monarchy and of family. Tongan people are known for their
friendly hospitality and rich cultural inheritance showcased through Tongan dance, music, art and
food passed down through the many generations.
Life on Tonga’s archipelago of 176 islands (36 of which are inhabited), remains unhurried and peaceful, little effected by the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Here you will discover pristine white sand beaches, stunning coral atolls, deserted islands, active volcanoes and impressive mountains, national parks with untouched rainforests and caves, rugged cliff faces, ancient lava tubes and authentic villages.
Underwater, scuba divers can explore the Kingdom’s spectacular coral reefs, caves and arches in crystal clear water. In addition, Tonga is one of the few places in the world where you can consistently snorkel with humpback whales on a seasonal basis between July to October, making Tonga a much sought after holiday destination during this period.
Tonga lies directly south of Samoa and about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand in a
NNE/SSW orientation. The islands range from high volcanic mountains to low coral terrain, creating
scenic variety unlike anywhere else in the world.
The Kingdom of Tonga is divided into four island groups – Tongatapu, Ha’apai, Vava’u and Niuas.
The largest island, Tongatapu, where the capital city of Nuku’alofa is located, is approximately 2,000 kilometres (1,245 miles) northeast of Auckland, New Zealand. It is more developed than its neighbours but still maintains an unhurried and peaceful lifestyle.
Tonga is one of only three places on earth where swimmers and snorkelers can jump in the water and
get up close to humpback whales. Humpback whales migrate from their feeding grounds in
Antarctica, along the New Zealand coast, to the Kingdom of Tonga where they stay from July through
October to court, mate and calve. This represents an incredible and unique opportunity to witness
these enormous and majestic creatures in their natural environment.
Other water activities include scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, kitesurfing and surfing, fishing, sailing and relaxing at the beach. Numerous tours are available to discover Tonga’s history, culture, traditions, natural landscapes and wildlife on each island group.
Tonga enjoys a more comfortable climate and is slightly cooler than most other tropical areas. The
Kingdom also receives less rain than other tropical areas and has a temperature average of 26°C
from May to October. The wetter more humid, tropical cyclone season lasts from November to April
when temperatures can rise above 32°C. The temperature and rainfall increases the further north
travelled into the island group.
Trade winds from the east-southeast bring year-long cooling breezes in the late afternoon and early evening. Tropical rains fall from December through February, coinciding with the warmest summer months.
By March, the water temperatures can reach as high as 28°C, and then drop down as low as 21°C during their winter months. Scuba diving is conducted year round.
The best time to swim with the Humpback Whales is from July to September.
The visibility in Tonga is stunning, often between 25 – 40 metres and sometimes reaching up to an
incredible 70 metres. The dive sites are varied throughout Tonga. Pristine coral gardens are home to colourful, tropical fish life, while spectacular coral reefs include
amazing caves and arches. Tonga’s volcanic past, present and future are showcased in the unique
underwater tunnels, chimneys and swim-throughs.
Underwater exploration often comes with the living, breathing soundtrack of murmuring whalesong from courting humpback whales from July to October.
Tongatapu has a protected lagoon and reef, with several marine reserves and island parks suitable for novice divers. There are some good passage dives, drift dives and drop offs with abundant fish life for advanced divers. Off the island of Eua are sea mounts with vertical walls and some exciting caves to explore.
Ha'apai Group has a very diverse underwater topography featuring caves, canyons, caverns and tunnels, vertical walls and drop-offs, fast flowing passes and colourful coral gardens. Rich hard coral growth, gorgonian fans and soft corals can be found throughout.
Vava'u Group has a good mix of diving to cater for all tastes. There excellent drift dives along walls and drop offs, good coral reefs featuring giant sea fans, interesting caves and sheltered passages. The wreck of a 128 metre copra steamer, The Clan MacWilliam, sits upright in 22 metres right off Neiafu.
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).
(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.
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 (June 2017)
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.