The Mu’a area contains Tonga's richest concentration of archaeological remnants. In AD 1200, Tu’itatui, the 11th of the Tu’i Tonga kings, moved the royal capital from Heketa (near present-day Niutoua) to Mu’a. There are 28 royal stone tombs (langi) in the area, built with enormous limestone slabs. The most accessible of these are two monumental ancient burial sites off the dirt road towards the sea, just north of the Catholic church.

The structure closest to the main road is the Paepae ‘o Tele’a (Platform of Tele’a), a pyramid-like stone memorial. Tele’a was a Tu’i Tonga who reigned during the 16th century. The other, the Langi Namoala, has a fine example of a fonualoto (vault for a corpse) on top.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Tongatapu attractions

1. Captain Cook Landing Site

1.25 MILES

A modest cairn above a mangrove inlet near Holonga village marks the spot where Captain Cook came ashore in 1777 (on his third trip to Tonga) and where…

2. ‘Anahulu Cave

2.37 MILES

Tongatapu’s most famous cave is an over-loved, slightly eerie place full of stalactites and stalagmites, and blackened from the soot of flaming-frond…

3. Fishing Pigs

3.79 MILES

As you round the coast to the north of Mu’a, keep an eye out for Tonga's famed fishing pigs. When the tide is out, these unusual porkers trot out into the…

4. Pangaimotu

4.36 MILES

The closest island resort to Nuku’alofa, Pangaimotu makes an easy day trip. Daily departures (including Sunday) chug out from the wharf beside the Fish…

5. St Mary's Cathedral

4.68 MILES

St Mary's Cathedral, near Faua Jetty, is worth visiting for its beautiful rose gardens, stained glass and vaulted ceiling.

6. Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon

5.57 MILES

The South Pacific’s equivalent of Stonehenge, the Ha’amonga ‘a Maui (Maui’s Burden) trilithon near Niutoua, is one of ancient Polynesia’s most intriguing…

7. Talamahu Market

5.84 MILES

Want to see the real of Nuku’alofa? Wander through the aisles at Talamahu, Tonga's main fresh-produce hub. You’ll find produce piled into handmade woven…

8. Basilica of St Anthony of Padua

5.95 MILES

Nuku'alofa's most distinctive structure is the Basilica of St Anthony of Padua, opposite the Royal Tombs. It has a beautiful interior of stained glass,…