Around Tongatapu

During the past two weeks we worked on some small projects on Pitufa, but we also explored the island of Tongatapu. Instead of renting a car we used the convenient, cheap bus system (there’s no schedule, but minibuses have their destination written on the front and you can flag them down anywhere along the road) and hitched rides (we never wait long until a friendly Tongan driver takes us along–often making a detour for us) to get to the sights around Tonga’s main island.

Ath the east cape there’s Ha’amonga’a Maui, according to guides the ‘Stonehenge of the Pacific’, which turned out to be a lot less monumental than expected. On the way back we stopped in Lapaha to see pyramids that mark the grave of a king–nowadays a cemetery with colourfully decorated graves (typically Tongan). Another excursion took us to the Western cape, where two signs mark the ‘Arrival of Christianity’ and ‘Abel Tasman’s landing place’ where the first European explorers arrived. Fisherman took us on their truck a few villages down where a ‘Flying fox reserve’ is marked on the tourist map. We couldn’t find a reserve, but when we looked closer at the trees in the village cemetery the fluffy, cute creatures were hanging on all branches–from afar these fruit eating mammals (related to bats) look like folded up umbrellas ;-)
Another ride took us to the last and most impressive sight of Tongatapu: along the southwestern coast the swell breaks on the terrace-like coral shelf of the coast creating huge waves and countless blowholes that send fountains up to thirty metres.

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