Rugged ’Eua (pronounced 'a-wah'), 40km southeast of Tongatapu, is an unassuming slice of natural paradise. Known as ‘the forgotten island’, it's geologically the oldest island in Tonga (40 million years old!) and one of the oldest in the Pacific. There are steep hilly areas, cliff-top lookouts, hidden caves, sinkholes, a limestone arch and junglelike rainforest to explore. With its own species of plants, trees and the endemic koki (red shining parrot), ’Eua has a growing awareness of itself as a unique ecotourism destination.
'Eua's history is fascinating, too. In times past ’Euans had a reputation as the fiercest warriors in Tonga. Their sparsely populated island also became a haven for migrants moved from other islands. In 1860, when King Tupou I heard that European ships were capturing Tongans at the remote southern island of ‘Ata for use as slaves, he resettled the island’s entire population to ’Eua for their own protection. In 1946, after a nasty volcanic eruption at Niuafo’ou in the Niua Group, Queen Salote moved that island’s population to ’Eua also.