Trip to Tonga in the heart of South Pacific ocean
Swim with whales in Tonga

4 - 19 August 2012

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Suggested travel itinerary
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Suggested itinerary for a trip to Tonga

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The Kingdom of Tonga is a sovereign state consisting of dozens of islands scattered between several archipelagos, located on the Tropic of Capricorn in the South Pacific Ocean, near the International Date Line. Tonga's capital Nuku'Alofa is located on the main island, Tongatapu, where there is also the only international airport (Fuamotu) linking Tonga to the rest of the world. Tonga's economy is mainly based on fishing, farming, agriculture and on a limited tourism represented mainly by Australian and New Zealanders, thanks to the geographical proximity. The country, which is classified as "less developed", has a population just over one hundred thousand of inhabitants, distributed among the various islands.


The best time to visit Tonga is during the austral winter, between June and September, when there is less rain. We are talking about "less rain" and not about a real "dry season" because some rain, sometimes lasting all day, is still possible anytime. From late July to late October, a large number of Humpback whales visit the islands, making possible to swim with them (sometimes also with mother and calf) or to have one of the world's best whale watching tour. Temperatures in August are very mild and pleasant, with most early mornings around 18 degrees and mid afternoons around 25 degrees (Celsius). The water's temperature is around 23-24 degrees, suggesting the use of a 3mm long wetsuit for full-day whale snorkeling trips, or a thin shorter wetsuit for snorkeling in the lagoon.


The international Fuamotu airport is located on Tongatapu island, near the state's capital Nuku Alofa and is served by a number of flights each week from New Zealand and Australia, in additional to some weekly flight from other South Pacific islands, like Fiji. The minor islands are served almost daily, or sometimes twice daily, by local airline through small prop aircraft having large windows and making your flights between the islands a really enjoyable part of your holiday, for the spectacular landscape and the friendly environment.


The Kingdom of Tonga offers a wide selection of islands where to spend your vacation and a number of lodges, usually below the international standards and far to have most "luxury" options featuring the accommodations on other tropical paradises. For our stay in Tonga we have chosen Foa island (Ha'apai archipelago) for the pristine environment and the better possibility to swim with whales. Here, we have chosen the Matafonua Lodge because we liked a lot their concept of eco-friendly structure, perfectly integrated in the surrounding environment and without any man-made "luxury" at all (only nature!).

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Approaching Haapai airport Flying between Tonga islands and Tonga aerial photos <<-- GO
An holiday to Tonga will usually begin with a short flight in one of Chathams Pacific's aircraft, the local airline providing daily connections between the islands. Flying over Tonga offers spectacular views and may also be an opportunity to fly into a DC-3 recently refurbished for passenger service.
Matafonua Lodge Matafonua Lodge review: our accommodation on Foa island (Haapai-Tonga) <<-- GO
For our accommodation in Tonga we have chosen the Matafonua Lodge located on Foa island, part of Ha'apai islands group. The Matafonua Lodge is an eco-friendly structure perfectly integrated in the surrounding nature and we like this concept of lodge, rather than the luxury resorts which are completely defacing many tropical paradises.
Tongan beaches Pictures of Tongan beaches in Ha'apai (Foa island) - southern Pacific ocean <<-- GO
The northern end of Foa island has a long sandy beach and offers also the opportunity to swim or to have a canoe trip to a nearby deserted island, across a channel of water. The lagoon has excellent snorkeling and is perfect to swim or just to relax in the clear waters of the South Pacific.
Whales (mother and calf) Snorkeling with whales in Tonga - whales photos while swimming with them <<-- GO
Tonga is one of the very few places in the world where you can easily and safely swim with whales. Swimming with humpback whales is an experience that you will never forget and this is normally possible between August and October. Tonga offers also one of the world's best whale watch, that can be done from either boats or sometimes also directly from the beach.
Clown fish Snorkeling pictures from Tonga - southern Pacific reef photos <<-- GO
The Kingdom of Tonga offers great opportunities for snorkeling along the reef interior to the islands (along the external reef, currents and waves are instead usually too strong). You can swim between lot of clown fishes, spanish dancers, butterfly fishes, pipe fish and many more colourful species, typical of tropical regions and South Pacific.
Corals Corals and other marine life in Tonga <<-- GO
The corals in Tonga seems to be in good health, as they are quite actively growing with beautiful shapes and colours. The lagoon around Foa in Haapai, has extensive coral gardens hosting a very complex ecosystem made of thousands of different creatures.
Hermit crab Crabs - hermit crabs and fossil corals from Tonga <<-- GO
In this section you will find pictures of crabs and hermit crabs, that can be found in large number on Tonga beaches, especially at dusk and at night. Due to the coralline origin of Tonga, lot of coral fossils can be found on the beaches and inside the rocks in the inner parts of the islands.
Keleti on Tongatapu Day trip to Nuku'Alofa, Tonga's capital, and sightseeing trip on Tongatapu <<-- GO
Nukualofa, the capital of Tonga, is located on Tongatapu island, where Fuamotu international airport is situated and where, depending on flight schedule, you may need to spend at least one night before and after the trip. Indeed, the island is very interesting and it really worth to extend here your holiday to Tonga.

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