The Kingdom of Tonga comprises 171 islands spread across 700,000 sq km of ocean. It has always been an independent nation, and the ancient Kingdom of Tonga is Polynesia’s oldest and last remaining monarchy. Nuku’alofa is the capital city, located on the island of Tongatapu. This is the gateway into the country and is 4.5 hours flight from Sydney. There are three main destinations behond Nuku’alofa: Vava’u which is best for seeing the whales; Ha’apai which is an unspoilt comfortable getaway, ‘Eua which is an ecotourism paradise.
The biggest drawcard to Tonga is the humpback whales that migrate through here for around 4 months every year from July to October. Visitors can take day trips to watch them as they breach the surface, and swim with the whales. You may be lucky to see a baby as the mother teaches it how to feed.
There are plenty of activities to do in Tonga, mostly non-motorised eco activities that take advantage of the natural environment. Captain Cook called Tonga “The Friendly Isles” and you’re sure to agree.
Entry Requirements: Australian passport holders travelling to Tonga 6 months passport validity beyond your intended stay. You do not need a visa for a stay of up to 30 days, but may need to show your onward ticket. For more information and for holders of other passports, please refer to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website for the latest travel advice.
Money: The Tongan Pa’anga (TOP) is the unit of currency. One Australian dollar is worth approximately 1.6 Tongan Pa’anga. Credit card facilities are limited, but in general the main hotels accept them and may apply fees.
Language: Tongan and English are the two national languages of Tonga.
Electricity: 220-240V and uses the Australian plug type.
Time Zone: GMT+13 (3 hours ahead of Sydney)
Clothing: Light casual clothing is recommended, and a light jacket may be required in the evening. Women should dress modestly in public places.
Climate: Average temperature 24°C from June – October, and 28°C from November – May. The weather is pleasant all year round. Months between November and March carry a higher rainfall.
Water Temperature: Ranges from 21°C in August to 28°C in March.
Departure Tax: None payable at 1 July 2012.
Tipping: Tongans do not expect tips, though no offence will be caused by rewarding good service in this way.
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