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No sooner do you arrive on Tongatapu Island than you slip into the slower, more relaxed Tongan pace of life. Here you can spend your days snorkelling at pristine beaches, visiting the tombs of ancient kings or chatting with locals in the markets or restaurants.
Tongatapu, which translates as “Sacred South”, is the largest of Tonga’s islands and the place where most visitors to the country will land. Trips to the exotic outer islands await, but it is well worth exploring this fascinating part of Tonga as well.
Stay in the capital, Nuku’alofa. Here you can shop with locals at Talamahu Market where pyramids of colourful tropical fruit make for some great photographs and tasty snacks. Head to the harbour to see the Royal Palace, a wooden structure built in 1867, still home to the island’s king.
The island is one of the Pacific’s most significant archaeological sites and much of its history can still be seen today. Head to Mu’a, the island’s second city, to see the burial tombs of ancient Tongan kings. The burial mounds are known locally as langi and are arranged in terraces on hillsides. Another fascinating historical site is Ha’amonga a Maui, a trilithon structure made of coral thought to date back to the 13th century.
Rent a car or scooter and you can easily get around the island in a day. On your way around stop off at the beauty spots of the Anahulu Cave, on the eastern side of the island, and the Mapu'a 'a Vaca Blowholes, which are located on the southern coastline. History buffs will also want to see the landing sites of the explorers Abel Tasman and James Cook.
Get to Tongatapu by flying into the Fua’amotu International Airport. Catch a taxi or arrange for a hotel shuttle bus to take you to Nuku’alofa, which is located 21 kilometres (13 miles) northwest of the airport.
Once you have explored Tongatapu, take a trip to one of the many outer islands where untouched white-sand beaches and pristine waters await. Pangaimotu Island is one of the most popular.
Situated on the waterfront, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Centenary Chapel, Royal Palace of Tonga, and Royal Tombs. Basilica of St Anthony of Padua and Talamahu Market are also within 1 mi (2 km).
Situated on the boardwalk, this lodge is within a 15-minute walk of Royal Palace of Tonga and Royal Tombs. Flea Market is 2.7 mi (4.3 km) away.
Situated in Kanokupolu, this hotel is within 12 mi (20 km) of Mapu'a 'a Vaca Blowholes, Royal Tombs, and Centenary Chapel. Basilica of St Anthony of Padua and Flea Market are also within 16 mi (25 km).
Situated in Nuku Alofa, this hotel is close to Talamahu Market, Basilica of St Anthony of Padua, and Royal Tombs. Also nearby are Royal Palace of Tonga and Centenary Chapel.
Situated in Puke, this bed & breakfast is within 3 mi (5 km) of Royal Tombs, Centenary Chapel, and Basilica of St Anthony of Padua. Royal Palace of Tonga and Flea Market are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Situated near the beach, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Talamahu Market, Royal Palace of Tonga, and Basilica of St Anthony of Padua. Centenary Chapel and Royal Tombs are also within 1 mi (2 km).
Situated in Nuku Alofa, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Basilica of St Anthony of Padua, Royal Tombs, and Talamahu Market. Centenary Chapel and Royal Palace of Tonga are also within 15 minutes.
Situated in Nuku Alofa, this hotel is close to St Mary's Cathedral, Talamahu Market, and Basilica of St Anthony of Padua. Also nearby are Royal Palace of Tonga and Royal Tombs.