Am thinking of visiting but it is a long way? Is it an awesome place? What can I do there?
Tonga is Old Polynesia, slow and self contained, people are friendly but for the most part not that extroverted.
The Govt doesn't facilitate tourism much so infrastructure is minimal despite the best efforts of operators.
That's fine for experienced travellers but I wouldn't recommend Tonga to newbies or people looking for a thrill.
NO - Don't do it!!
I am a very experienced traveller and an ex-Travel Agent in Melbourne, Australia. I have travelled through over 30 countries in Asia, Europe, Pacific Islands and the Middle-East and I would not encourage anyone to go to Tonga.
I booked a 7 day package for August 2010 through a tour operator that run whale watching trips. The website was exciting, the pictures and stories were great and I was really looking forward to my trip. Then I arrived......
We spent the 1st night at the International Airport Hotel on Tonga'tapu. We arrived late at night and were very happy with the greeting and the service from the staff. There was no hot water in the morning, but we were not really surprised.
We then flew out to Va'vau - Our guide picked us up from the Airport and took us back to our accommodation. As we arrived early morning our room was not ready, so we were packed on to the whale watching boat. After about an hour we saw our first whale, which disappeared befor we got too close. Our driver then spent the rest of the day driving around searching for whales. By the end of the day we were chasing the whales, I felt like I should have had a harpoon! The whale watching was horrific and not what we expected, having come from Australia.
We got back to our accommodation checked in and walked in to town.
We went to one of the "Supermarkets" as advertised on the Va'vau website, and were shocked at the lack of fridges and fresh food.
We tried a local restaurant and much to their credit, the Australian owners provided excellent service and food.
By this time (36 hours after arriving in Tonga), we had realised that we had made a huge mistake and decided to cut our losses and leave Tonga.
We got a flight the following morning and flew to Fiji.
Tonga is not set up for tourists. It is dirty, over-run with pigs and lacks any kind of infrastructure. A small task like buying sunscreen was almost impossible as is trying to get fresh food. I have never seen such delusional people in my life, We seemed to be the only people who noticed how bad Tonga was! We had pre-paid AU$5000 for the trip, and made the decision to cut our losses.
I hope this helps.
As a an "experienced traveler" you may find it useful to check in the internet about Tonga and the life there before you go there. After doing so you may find that Tonga is not Manhattan. I live in Tonga since 11 years, I have fresh food daily and I know where to buy all that I need. I live among those people which you call "delusional". I am happy that you left the country, cause people like you do more harm than good.
And yes, you seemed to be the only people who noticed how bad it is-that is true.Edited: 17 November 2010, 16:57
what tour company? We have booked for JAnuary 2011!!
Hello, My wife and I went on a cruise and visited Tonga, it was ok and the ocean was good teeming with fish
We bought some Tongan money which was a huge mistake because we cannot sell it back to anyone here in the UK, we have £394 tomgan pounds which is worth £133 GBP, would you like to buy them off us?
I would be willing to let you have them for £100 as I cannot do anything else with them unless I go back to Tonga lol
@DaleAnne23- When I saw "NO - Don't do it!!" I was expecting a nightmare tale about how you were robbed by men with machetes moments after your plane landed. I am glad that wasn't the case.
I am from a small town near Athens, Georgia and do not consider myself an experienced traveler but EVEN I would know not to book a package deal to anywhere that particular and isolated. That would be the kind of destination that would require careful research. I guess what I am trying to say is, WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD BY BY A PRE-PACKAGED TOUR TO A PLACE LIKE TONGA? Hell, what do I care... you deserve what you get. Good to see the Darwin rule still in effect.
Hahaha..no men with machetes at the airport here...! And if so, then they cut the grass at the side of the runway...slowly....
I have visited Tonga and enjoyed it because it was so very different from other places I have been. I think the poster saying 'don't go there' gives a quite good view of why you might enjoy visiting Tonga. It isn't a country that will give you a nice packaged sanitised tourist experience. You will be expected to fit into the lifestyle that exists in Tonga. Polynesia has its own culture - in some other Pacific countries you can be segregated from that to some degree in a five star resort area - but in Tonga you will get to experience the laid back family oriented way of life. Living by the clock is just not so important. There are good things and not so good things about it. It's not going to change though just because you are there with a different way of life. For some people that will be something not on their ideal holiday list - for others it will be intriguing.
We didn't find five-star restuarants but we did find the delight of sitting on the harbour at sunset with a freshly baked loaf of bread on Sunday evening after having attended a church service in the morning (this really is a must in Tonga) to be memorable in a very different but special way.
well said JessieOz ... couldn't have been said any better!
@ Daleanne I have been to Tonga once on a short stay/stopover. I too am an Australian of Aboriginal descent - I am one with respect for other peoples cultures. I must say that i am offended over some of your wording toward the beautiful Tongan people and their land. I too am glad you left as i dont want Tongans thinking that we real true blue AUSSIES are all like you. I too have been to fiji and i frequent Samoa ( which i absolutely love also) I have also driven Aus twice and hop a plane to NZ quite a few times a year and am currently studying travel and tourism...doesnt make me traveller of the year or make myself believe i am better than anyone else. So a word of advice - please stay away from Samoa and any other islands you intend on tarnishing or trying to. Im disgusted and hurt by your comments. Just as my close Tongan friends would be.
I am heading back to Tonga in a few months for a 2 weeks stay with friends and cannot wait. When you travel to these lovely islands you need to go in with an open mind, heart and soul. Not a stuck up attitude.Edited: 19 January 2011, 18:05