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Tonga

Easter 2018

rain 27 °C
View 2018 Tonga for Easter March/April on Borisborough's travel map.

So we arrived at the small airport on Good Friday at around 12:10PM and, because we brought a little bit of food with us, we ticked the box declaring the food. The queue for foreign passports was much longer than the local one so, although we had no checked in baggage, we were last in the queue for quarantine after some Tongan woman pushed in front of us with her three crates of fish.

We got through and had a transfer to our Heilala Lodge – it took about an hour because nobody seems to drive at more than 45kmh. As we arrived, it started raining.
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A bit of a swim and snorkel and early to bed.

The Heilala is fronting the beach and has ten or so falas
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and a block of small apartments at the back with a guest kitchen. Our fala was spacious enough with a shower room at the back although the verandah collected the rain all the time. The rooms are only serviced three times a week and there are no refreshment facilities inside the room nor a fridge or TV. The reception has a small bar and doubles as the restaurant for breakfast and evening meals which have to be ordered by 2pm. There is a collecting of books and a TV and dvds towards the back.
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Breakfast is a couple of slices of bread which can be toasted and some fresh fruit along with tea- bags, coffee and milk as required. There is Internet access in the reception area but not in the falas.

Getting up on Saturday morning, the rain was hammering down. After a breakfast of toast and fruit, I took advantage of the free ride into town and went into Nuku'alofa to look around – it rained heavily most of the time and the streets were like rivers.
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I did manage 30 minutes in light rain to photograph the Treasury, the Catholic church, the dilapidated Tongan church and the Royal Palace.
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The market has fresh vegetables, clothes, souvenirs and the like and a small supermarket across the road has some packaged foodstuff, mainly from Woolworths in Australia and at the equivalent Aussie price. The cafe next door does a really good long black coffee for 5TOP. Back to ours by 2pm. Had a nice dinner of fish and chips (25TOP) and chicken and chips (22TOP) with Tiki pale ale at 6.50TOP a bottle.

Up on Easter Sunday for breakfast and then a trip around the island to see the sights in the rain. As it's a Sunday, the deeply religious Tongan government has decided everything must be shut (including corner shops and petrol stations) and doubly so since it’s Easter Sunday. The tour seemed to be quite standard 50TOP each around the few places of interest there are – we saw two or three cars and minivans doing the same circuit.

Fruit bats The flying foxes seem to be a big thing here so we first stopped in the road about three km from the start to peer at a tree where a couple of fruit bats were hanging to sleep. We’d seen better at our resort and we saw more flying later in the trip. 1/10
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Tsunami Rock Next on the agenda was a rock of reef stone estimated at 1600 tonnes sitting in the grass. Legend has it that Maui was throwing it at something but actually it is likely it was loosened by an underwater explosion and then deposited 100m inland by a tsunami. Apparently, it’s the largest tsunami rock in the world. 4/10
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Blow Holes A little deceptive – most of the time it’s the ocean crashing against the stone ledge but occasionally it seeps in between the rock slabs and spouts up a few holes into the air. 3/10
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Three-headed coconut tree On the road into the capital, there’s a three headed coconut tree – a major tourist attraction. It’s the only one on the island (and, to be fair, the only one I’ve seen in the world). 3/10
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Nuku'alofa A stop in the capital for a few photos of the King's Palace and the Tongan Church. 6/10
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Paddling Pigs (billed as Snorkelling Pigs) Another tourist attraction of which the Tongans are proud – we saw a couple of pigs nosing around in the shallows searching for either fish, shells or crabs. 1/10

Captain Cook’s Landing Site The place where Captain James Cook landed in Tonga in 1777 commemorated by a plaque on a plinth. On the reverse is a plaque commemorating the visit of HRH Elizabeth II with Phil and Princess Anne in 1970. 2/10

Graves A Lane off the main road, littered with broken timbers from a wrecked house leads to a couple of terraces made from large rectangular rocks – burial mounds. They’ve been there for over 100 years and, again, a source of Tongan Pride. So rivetting, I didn’t even take a photo! 1/10

Stonehenge The Tongan Stonehenge consists of two uprights and one header. It is fenced but closed today because it’s Easter Sunday (and all of Tonga is closed). Probably took some effort to move in their day but not a patch on the original. 2/10
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Bridge over the sinkhole A good view of a beach and cliff from the top of a cliff and then a muddy walk up a lane to another cliff with caves open to the crashing waves. There’s also a sinkhole which the ocean runs into and so creating a natural bridge but too muddy to see close-up. 4/10
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Abel Tasman's Landing Site The last stop on the tour, up at the tip if the western end, another concrete jetty commemorating the landing of Abel Tasman in 1643. 1/10
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As well as the Heilala, there are another couple of resorts near here southwards, one is called the Blue Banana which has a small shop and museum (although no restaurant) and another next door to that called Vaksomething which sometimes had Tonga nights with BBQ and dancing but not on this particular Easter Monday.

We walked along the beach northwards to the neat road and Holty's Hideaway, a guest house with cafe open 7 days a week. Their burger and chips were excellent and at a reasonable price for Tonga - 22TOP. It’s run by an Australian couple who bought the place eight years ago and renovated it. It looks quite up-market and has a swimming pool. They name their animals after food – the two dogs there were Pepper who had a bad foreleg after a fight with local dogs and rescue dog t-bone who’s been there just four weeks. We also went for a bite to eat Tuesday afternoon – a superb bacon and egg bun (with cheese and onions and brown sauce) with chips for 16TOP.

For all five days, it rained, pretty much torrentially, all the time. There was a short period on Monday morning when it stopped but by noon it had started again. On Tuesday it was so bad, with wind too, that even snorkelling wasn’t possible. To be fair, even in perfect weather, five days, four nights might have been overkill anyway. The sights, as they are, are possible to get round in half a day and there’s only so much swimming, snorkelling and kayaking you can do in the same area of reef before dying of boredom.

Posted by Borisborough 01:01 Archived in Tonga

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Comments

Shame about the bad weather, but it does look like a relaxing place for a trip.

by irenevt

I am glad you still managed to take a couple of great pictures! Thanks for your story!

by Vic_IV

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