Introduction

Low-lying Tongatapu (Sacred South) is Tonga's main island – and the landing and launching pad for most adventures in Tonga. Around two-thirds of Tonga's 106,000 residents live here, most of them in the capital Nuku’alofa (Abode of Love – how romantic), also home to the royal family. Outside Nuku'alofa, the island is a patchwork of dark-brown agricultural plots, small villages, a few chilled-out resorts, wild stretches of coastline and more churches than a year full of Sundays. And smiling kids are everywhere!

Tongatapu's key archaeological sights – such as Mu’a and the Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon – are on the isle’s eastern side, which also features caves, calm sandy coves and the airport. To the west are the Mapu’a Vaca Blowholes and the most of the resorts and surf breaks. North of Nuku'alofa are some lovely little day-trip islands. Give yourself a good few days to check it all out.