Nuku’alofa is the capital of Tonga. Located on the main island of Tongatapu, it contains nearly one-third of the total population of Tonga. Although only the size of a small town by international standards, it is big enough to offer travellers accommodation, services, and transport options throughout the island nation.
Most travellers enter Tonga through Nuku’alofa airport. While some travellers will stay in Nuku’alofa, others will head out of town to a beach resort or hotel on a more scenic part of the island. Another option is to stay at a resort in one of the outlying islands. Whatever your plan, you should spend at least a day in Nuku’alofa to sort out any tours you may want to do and to see the local attractions.
Nuku’alofa is the location of the Royal Palace called ‘the Sia ko Veiongo (Veiongo Hill)’, this is the King of Tonga’s official residence. You could also head to Little Italy Hotel for fine cuisine. Old Tonga on the outskirts of town is a reconstructed village from the past. If you want to know what a Tongan village looked like before Europeans discovered these islands, then this is the place. Whatever you decide to do, you could easily have a great day just walking around the town, visiting the markets, and strolling along the scenic coastline.
You can hire a car from a number of different services, but you need to get a temporary Tongan driving permit. This requires a current international license, some cash, and a trip to the local police station to get the permit. The island is easy to drive around and there are many attractions to see. Most of them are on the coast which include stunning beaches, blow holes, caves, and views of other islands.
Nuku’alofa harbour and marina is the place to go to take a boat to one of the smaller outlying islands such as Atata, Fafa, and Pangaimotu. Visiting one of these islands for the day comes highly recommended. If you only had time to visit one, then make it Fafa as it is the most scenic. You can book tours from Nuku’alofa which include a return trip by boat and meals at a resort. You are then free to explore each island at your leisure, or just bathe on a beach and enjoy a swim from time to time. Another option is to book a day tour of neigbouring (big) island of Eua. You can get there by a 20 minute flight, and then be taken around the island in a four-wheel dive. If you want a scenic beach all to yourself, see pristine landscapes, cliff views, or do some whale watching, then this island is worth visiting.