Tongatapu Island Map
Tongatapu is the Kingdom of Tonga's largest island with over two-thirds of the country's population. The capital of Tonga, Nukualofa, on the north coast, has a laidback air. Victorian palaces, churches, graveyards, and government buildings dot the streets, while closer to the waterfront are the bustling markets and bus stands.
Tongatapu offers a combination of history and natural beauty to the sightseer. Only the king of Tonga is allowed to hunt flying foxes, so large colonies of the animals hang peacefully from trees along the road at Kolovai. The blowholes of Houma are a spectacle at high tide, and the ancient royal tombs at Mua are impressive. The massive Haamonga a Maui trilithon near Niutoua is said to be the entrance to the old royal compound of Tonga.
The swimming isn't good at Nukualofa itself, but an excellent public beach with good snorkeling is at Haatafu. The numerous small islands off the north side of Tongatapu Island offer some of the best beaches of all, especially Pangaimotu, Fafa, and Atata. On Sundays, Nukualofa tour operators run excursions to the small resorts on those islands.
Most of Tongatapu's hotels are in Nukualofa, although a number of beach resorts are along the southwest coast near Kolovai and Haatafu. Nukualofa offers an adequate choice of restaurants, but these are surpassed by the buffet of island food laid out several times a week at the Tonga National Center just south of town. The Polynesian dancing performed here is good, and the center is about the best place to become immersed in Tongan culture.
Malo e lelei