Time for Tonga

Tonga is the first country in the world, in terms of time.  It is the first country west of the International Dateline, so gets to enjoy the first sunrise of the new day, every day.

Tonga is an archipelago in the South Pacific that is scattered over 700,000 square kilometres of ocean. Tonga is a Kingdom which is comprised of 176 islands, of which only 52 are inhabited.  It is also one of the most scenic and unspoiled of the Pacific island nations, possessing dramatic & active volcanic landscapes, spectacular tropical rainforest, low-lying coral atolls, pristine coral reefs, magnificent sandy beaches and a unique and beautiful array of flora and fauna.

The Kingdom of Tonga is the only Pacific nation never to have been controlled by foreign powers, and is the last remaining Polynesian monarchy. Polynesians are thought to have arrived in the Kingdom of Tonga more than 3000 years ago and the first of the hereditary rulers, known as the Tu’i Tonga, governed from about 960AD. The ruling royal family of the Kingdom of Tonga can be traced back more than 1000 years.

Nuku’alofa, the capital, is located on the main island of Tongatapu. The island is also home to the Royal Family, the Government, many businesses and the majority of the Tongan population.

Most travellers who come to the Kingdom will arrive via Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu. The town is well equipped for visitors and the terrain is flat, so it is easy to explore by car or bike or simply walk around.    

Nuku’alofa, meaning abode of love, on Tongatapu, meaning sacred south, is home to reminders of the Kingdom of Tonga’s ancient past. Take your time to discover and explore Tonga’s key archaeological sites including the mysterious Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon (stone hedge of the Pacific) and the Langi (terraced tombs) and moats on the Eastern side.

The island of Tofua played a tragic role in the most famous mutiny off all time, The Mutiny on the Bounty.  As Fletcher Christian and the mutineers set sail for Tahiti, Captain William Bligh and 18 companions rowed their way to Tofua. The reception they received there was no better than on the Bounty and the landing party was attacked and one person was killed.  Bligh then set off on what has become one of the most famous voyages in naval history. Over 42 days he travelled 5800km to Timor where he was rescued and taken back to England.

If you visit Tofua today you are guaranteed to receive a much better reception than poor Captain Bligh and his crew.

Tonga is known to be very laid back.  Some would say slow moving, but that is part of its charm.  It is probably not the ideal location for anyone requiring big nights out at clubs.  Also, the Tongans are very religious and Sunday is considered to be a sacred day, so not much happens apart from church.  But is it charming, and Tongans are very friendly people, and you can’t help but like them and their way of life.

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