Thanks to a stuff up courtesy of the super flaky Tongan airline Real Tonga, I found myself needing to leave Ha’apai and get back to the main island of Tongatapu a day earlier than I had anticipated. Initially I was kinda bummed out by this (I didn’t want to leave my island early!) but it did end up giving me the opportunity to go exploring a completely different kind of island.
Tongatapu may not have the pristine beaches or the humpback whales, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t cool stuff to see and do. So if you find yourself with a little bit of time whilst on Tongatapu, here are a handful of beautiful things to go and explore.
These naturally formed blowholes are located in the village of Houma and are referred to by locals as Mapu a Vaea. When waves crash into the reef, water is forced through natural channels in the volcanic rock, creating enough force that water then bursts from these tunnels, creating a similar visual effect to that of a geysir.
These blowholes are free to visit and are truly a sight to behold – don’t miss them!
Just a short way away from the beach of love, this 3 storey high boulder is mysteriously located inland on the western side of Tongatapu. Researchers believe that this rock was carried inland by a massive tsunami some time in the last 7000 years, but the rest of such details are shrouded in mystery.
The Beach of Love
This beach has gotten its name due to it being a popular spot for lovers to come and ahem, fornicate, in their cars near the water, even in broad daylight as I discovered firsthand.
Whilst intruding on the sex spot for Tongan teenagers is less than ideal, it is worth it to check out some of the most stunning coastline on the island.
The Rock Bridge
This enormous naturally formed coral bridge isn’t technically allowed to be visited anymore (untimely accidents have occurred apparently) but I eventually persuaded my driver to take me there, and it was absolutely worth it.
Also known as Hufangalupe, this bridge does have a pathway through which people can then cross it, but the best views can be found directly in front of it – just watch your footing!
Talk about adapting to ones environment!
These Tongan piggos have learned how to fish in shallow water and hang around making the most of their newly acquired skill on the western side of the island.
These animals are relatively domesticated, but make sure not to get too close, they have been known to be aggressive when provoked.
Ha’amonga a’Maui is a stone trilithon located on the northern side of the island. It was built in the 13th century by the then-king, likely as a gateway to his royal compound. This Tongan answer to Stonehenge may not be the most visually impressive ancient stone structure in the world, but it is a lovely and relaxed place to chill out and soak up some vitamin D.
Located on the eastern side of Tongatapu, this cave is known for the natural swimming pool that can be found at the bottom.
When I visited this (quite large) cave, I was the only person there and for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to actually go for a swim. I think I may have seen The Descent one too many times! If you have not seen that film – don’t watch it if you ever want to go exploring in caves, seriously, just don’t.
To visit all these sites in one day you can either rent a car for the day, or hire a local Tongan to drive you.
I chose the latter (obviously) and it was an absolutely awesome way to spend my last day in Tonga. These trips generally cost $50-$80 depending on your haggling skills. This is also the cost for the entire car, so if you are travelling with a group the cost per person will go down significantly.
Thanks for reading these past few posts about my adventures in Tonga, up next will be a short series about Myanmar, so stay tuned, and as always – happy solo travelling! xx