Tonga

Catamaran Yacht Charter - Pacific Ocean - Tonga

Overview

2000 km north of New Zealand a kingdom with 100 000 people on 170 islands with 700 sq km of land Tonga spreads in an area of 700 x 300 km. This group of islands is scenically very varied. You can divide the group into 4 areas. In the South the Ha’apanai Group with the capital Nuku’alofa. In the North the remote volcanic Niuas. In the middle the coral islands of Ha’apai and north of that the Vava’u group with its huge sheltered harbour.

Climate

Tonga is more south than the other Pacific islands. Therefore it is less warm and less humid. Tonga lies in the hurricane belt and gets one to two tropical hurricanes a year. In the Time when Neverland is sailing between the islands of Tonga in October the weather should be safe, nice and dry with South East trade winds.

Economy

Without the help from outside this country cannot survive. Imports are 4 times as much as exports and government does a lot of deficit spending. There is a growing gap between rich and poor and the royal family works much in their own pockets. The question is how long this feudal system will work. All land is owned by the crown and is administered by nobles who allot it to the common people.

There is some agriculture in pumpkin, vanilla, coconut oil and taro and some tuna fishing. Some income is from communications industry by selling domain names ending with .to and income from sub-lets of satellite orbital slots. And there was some substantial income in selling passports mainly to Hong Kong Chinese for 20 000 $ each. Tourism is still small but local people profit from it because small local guesthouses do accommodation.

People

With 150 people per sq km the country is one of the most densely populated in the Pacific. Tongans have large families and live in small villages in tin roofed houses. They have running water and electricity. Tongans are nearly always relaxed and exceptionally warm and happy with their life. Traditionally the woman has a higher social status than in the other parts of Polynesia. They have the authority at home whereas the men dominate in public life. Children are taught obedience from a very early age and school education is relatively high.

The feudal class system is relatively strict. A commoner cannot become a noble. 1/3 of the population live in or near the capital of Nuku’alafu. Church is important to Tongans. There are different branches of Christian religions. They all keep the Sunday sacred. No shops are open on Sundays. Most restaurants are closed, no sports, no tours, just relaxing with friends and the family.

Tradition and customs are important. Clothing is strict, no topless even for men, no kissing in public even not to hold hands. And be patient with civil servants, impatiently demanding will have the opposite effect.

Transportation

Tonga has international flight connections via New Zealand (Auckland), and Fiji (Nadi), Hawaii, Samoa and Los Angeles.

Sailing with Neverland in Tonga

The islands of Tonga are a great sailing destination. Therefore Neverland will stay there and sail between the islands for some weeks in summer 2006.

Tongatapu Islands

Two third of the population of Tonga lives on this 260 sq km flat island of coral origin. The capital Nuku’alofa with 22 000 people lies north of the Fanga’uta lagoon. The place is somewhat touristy. There is some industry and commerce, the government building and some old colonial style residences. You will find good resorts, water sport facilities, bars, entertainment and restaurants and chances for shopping. But the South Sea feeling will not really come up on this island.

The Vava’u Islands

This group of islands are the most scenic ones and the sailing centre of Tonga. Limestone cliffs in the north and a labyrinth of waterways with many small islands on the south coast. The group of islands is 21 km from East to West and 26 km from North to South and the 34 islands have a total 90 sq km of land.

You find many well-protected anchorages and fjord like approaches. All types of water sport are offered and one of the largest sailing charter fleet is located here.

The main village with 2600 people is Neiafu one of the most picturesque little towns in the South Pacific. A yacht will find here an attractive place to anchor for a while, provisions are good, nice bars and restaurants are available and you get even things done on your boat. And biking through the islands is recommended to get to the small villages, to remote beaches and to get some scenic views.

The Eua Islands

With 90 sq km of land it is the 3rd largest island of Tonga. Situated 40 km south of Nuku’alofa it is in touristic sense an undeveloped island with a nice scenery and South Sea Pacific village life. You can explore the island by hiking or horseback riding.

The Ha’apai Islands

With 51 low coral islands and 2 volcanoes this is a beachcombers group of islands with powdery white sand beaches. Most islands are uninhabited and in total there are only 8000 people who live here. It is not a good place for yachts because the island does not have sheltered anchorages.

The Niuas

Not many visitors will see the Niuas although these islands have a lot to offer, the bush trails, lovely white beaches, sheltered lagoons and good anchorages. The 1400 people live in the 3 villages. The Tafahi island with just 3 sq km in size has a 560 meter high volcano. Some of the best kava is produce on this island. The Niuafo’ou is Tongas most northern island and therefore a very remote one. They are hardly any tourists here.