The kingdom of Tonga

We left Niue on friday July 14th (Bastille day) late in the afternoon to the tunes of great French music. We crossed the international date line and lost the 15th completely in a flash and arrived early monday morning the 17th in Neiafu, the Vavau group of Tonga.

We only cruised the Vava’u group of Tonga (60 islands) as we did not have time enough to go more south.

After a visit from the health inspector, customs and immigration officials at the dock and paying our duties we were cleared in and free to take a mooring in Neiafu harbour.

Neiafu harbour left, Nieafu town in the middle, mooring field on the right. Picture taken from Mt.Talau (130M)

The kingdom of Tonga is the oldest and last remaining Polynesian monarchy and the only Pacific nation never brought under foreign rule. It is the first country west of the International Dateline and they call themselves “the place where time begins”. They are a very Christian nation.

Utula’aina Point, with the Tongan Flag, a cross symbolizing Christianity (97% of the people are Christian), white colour is purity and the red colour symbolizes the sacrifice of the Blood of Christ.
Typical schooluniform of girsl and boys is conservative, no knees are shown. The boys wear a wrap around skirt (tupenu) and a woven mat (ta’ovala) of pandanus leaf around the waist.
Pandanus leaves drying in the sun before it is flattened to weave mats, hats, baskets etc.
Tongans carrying pandanus to be washed and soften in the sea before it is dried.
Weaving of a pandanus mat. Usually women will get together in a weaving house to make mats or other handicrafts.
We went to a Tongan feast in the village of Matamaka and visited the school. There were 2 classrooms. One for ages 5 to 8 and one for 9 to 12 years old. This picture was taken in the class of the older group.
Happy Tongan school kids.
Typical Tongan dance, totally different from the Polynesian hip dancing we saw in French Polynesia. In Tonga the arm and hand gestures were important. During the dancing money gifts are collected in the basket on the floor. In some places Tongan dollar bills will be stuck in the belt of the dancers. The skirt is made from tapa.

The next day we motorsailed to the Coral garden anchorage and snorkeled…

The Linckia laevigata. There were many of these blue seastars.
Soft coral. It comes in very many different colours and shapes.
Anemonefish trying to hide.
Soft coral.
It was almost like being in an underwater flowershop…Acropora sp hard coral
Feather stars, they are animals! They like to be in a spot where there is a lot of current since they feed on passing plankton.
A “heart shaped” coral, I think the Acropora hyacinthus, but I am not sure.
A beautiful spider shell hiding between the coral. We did not take it with us since it was occupied.
Sanuk and Flipper in another paradise like anchorage.

Coral with, I think, polyps on it. They look like eyes …
Swallow cave. We went inside with Flipper but found only a lot of graffiti.

Stay tuned for our next blog post where we talk about our incredible whale encounter !

1 thought on “The kingdom of Tonga

  1. Tuned… for the whale encounter 🙂
    Still tuned 😉
    Still …

    Zo tof om jullie verhalen te volgen !!!
    ’t is telkens aftellen naar een volgende blog.
    Maar die zal dus blijkbaar niet zo lang op zich laten wachten 🙂 🙂

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