Kingdom Of Tonga Sept 2007 (1 of 4)
School Holiday Time, and we are off on our first Polynesian adventure in the Kingdom Of Tonga,
located between Fiji and Samoa.
We started our trip on Tongatapu, the main island. We arrived Saturday night. EVERYTHING
is closed on Sunday, except church, which we attended. The singing was divine. Then off to the west side of the island for a couple of days. Everyone was walking to and from church in their Sunday finest. Polynesia means wide white beaches and coral reefs, right? Well it is true!
Nothing like a fresh coconut. By the time we left we had gotten to adept at opening them. Well, about as adept as a 6 year old Tongan boy I would suspect. Coconuts are everywhere and used daily in cooking, and the green nuts provide a refreshing drink.
Virtually every open space was taken up in agriculture. Many coconut trees, often with root crops (taro, cassava, yams, etc) or pumpkins planted underneath. As well as fruit, the coconut tree provides material for building, baskets, and many other things.
We took advantage of a rainy day to take a tour of the island and see the sights. Mainly we saw Mormon churches, at least one in each village, many more than even Utah! In addition, we visited the Mapu'a 'a Vaca Blowholes. They were a bit quietwhile we were there, but still fun to watch. The area in the ledge is definitely an interesting place to snorkel.
During the tour we stopped at a local grocery store for a snack, so here's what grocery shopping in Tonga looks like. Most of the little stores carry just about the same things, mostly canned or prepared food, and perhaps eggs and bread. You need to go to the big market in the city if you want fruit or veggies, assuming you do not grow your own.
Tonga does not have a large tourist industry, and we found quite a range of accomodation. This place was right at the beach, but rather rustic, kind of like camping indoors except possibly not as dry as a tent when the rain started.
During our stay at the West end of Tongatapu we took a day journey up the coast to the Ha'atafu Beach Reserve. We walked and took the local bus. Not too many palangi (foreign) tourists walking around this area, so we got lots of "Hellos" and "Byes" from the local kids, but not always in the expected order. The beach was fantastic and so was the snorkelling.
Next stop, Hufangalupe or Pigeon's Gate. You can perhaps make out a person walking across the top of the bridge to get an idea of the size. Very impressive when the waves are crashing underneath.