The best way to explore Tongatapu is by car. In fact, I’m not sure if it is even possible to explore it in any other way. For tips on how to rent a car, and get a temporary Tongan drivers license, check out our article from earlier this week.
Your starting and ending point for this journey will be the capitol of Nuku’Alofa… which makes sense as this is pretty much the only place on the island from which you can rent a car. The total journey is 108 kilometers, so if you are feeling short on time, it’s entirely possible to see all the main sights on this itinerary in a day trip. However we recommend taking at least two days to circle the island. Explore some of the beaches and beach hotels/ resorts, find one that appeals to your aesthetics and fits within the budget and just enjoy your time in Tonga.
This is something which I bet you never would have expected to find in the South Pacific… yet here it is… Tonga’s own mini version of Stonehenge. This gate of coral stone was built sometime in the 13th century, and many believe that it was used in a similar was as Stonehenge… to mark the passing of the seasons and most importantly, the solstices.
There is a small beach resort here and you can park in their parking area. From the parking lot there is a large stone staircase which will bring you down to the beach. The beach is beautiful and quiet and definitely worthy of a stop on it’s own. The beach also features loads of limestone caves and it’s a great place to stop for a picnic or some relaxation on the beach.
This is a good place to see blowholes in action, especially during high tide. It isn’t recommended to swim here, so stay dry and enjoy watching blow holes shoot up in the air, reminiscent of geysers.
But if you really want to complete blowhole experience then make sure you also stop at….
Mapu’a ‘a Vaca Blowholes
These blowholes are located near the small village of Houma, and are easily some of the most impressive in the South Pacific. On a good day with the wind is just right, you will see hundreds of blowholes go off at once. Some will even spurt up to 30 meters in the air.
This beach is famous for clean white sand, spectacular sunsets, and decent surfing. There is even a surf school here. But even non-surfers will enjoy themselves here. This is one of the best places on the island for snorkeling, with over 100 species of fish present in these waters – where reef meets the deep sea.