Tonga Holidays, Events, Climate and Sightseeing

Tonga: Worth knowing

Currency and ATMs

The national currency of Tonga is the Tonga dollar, in the national language Pa’anga.

You can get money from banks or ATMs at airports and in all major towns. The machines are primarily located in Neiafu Town/Vavau and Nuku’alofa Town/ Tongatapu.

Banks are usually only open until the afternoon, so you should take care of financial support early on. In tourist areas and in most hotels, credit card payments and traveler checks are also accepted.

To be on the safe side, you should always ask which payment methods are possible before ordering or making a reservation

Cafes and restaurants

There are numerous cafes and restaurants in Tonga. Many of them serve local specialties such as fish, corned beef, kava or coconut milk.

In addition to Tongan dishes, you can also get dishes from French, German, Italian, Japanese and Taiwanese cuisine. The cafes usually have lighter dishes than the restaurants.

When paying, a tip is by no means compulsory, but it is welcome as a thank you for the good service. If you want to tip, you can do so at your own discretion.

As Sunday is a legal day of rest, most cafes and restaurants are closed on this day. This is highly valued by the Tongan citizens. Individual bakeries as well as the bars of the hotels and resorts also serve on Sundays.

Internet

Internet access is available in most accommodations and in many cafés. Tonga has one of the best networks in the world. Surfing via high-speed connection was ceremoniously introduced by King Tupou VI in 2014.

The top-level domain of the island state is.to. It is one of the most popular country-specific domains. This is due, among other things, to the domestic guidelines.

Language

The residents of the islands are known for their friendliness. Tonga travelers can communicate in English with the local residents without any problems. English is taught in schools alongside Tongan. Important terms in the English and Tongan languages include:

• Please – Please – Faka molemole

• Thank you – Thank You – Malo

• Hello – Hello – Malo e lelei

• Goodbye – Goodbye – ‘Alu a or Nofo a (depending on whether someone else or you go)

Dress

Tonga is a very religious state, so there is a dress code here that also applies to tourists. So you should make sure that swimwear is only worn on the beach. Free upper body is prohibited by law in all public places. That goes for both men and women. Tongan residents also wear full-body clothing when bathing. Tourists on public beaches should also cover themselves. Exceptions are tourist areas such as hotels and resorts. In general, casual clothing is not a problem. Anyone visiting a church should make sure that their knees and shoulders are covered. However, it is normal for men to walk around in women’s clothes. This is one of the national customs in Tonga and an important part of traditional culture.

National customs

Tattoos

Traditionally, there is still a lot of tattooing in Tonga. Using shark teeth, the dye is “hammered” into the skin in a painful procedure. The process of tattooing must be done in one piece and must not be interrupted.

In the past, many tattoo artists were brought from Samoa to Tonga, as the local population was not allowed to touch the chiefs because of their holiness. So you needed outsiders.

Bark fiber, tapa

There is no weaving mill on almost all of the Pacific islands except on the Carolines and Santa Cruz Islands.

Fabrics were and are made from bark. This is first soaked a little and then tapped until the pieces have reached a multiple of their original size. Individual pieces are joined together by felting. This is how long fabrics are made. In Samoa and Tonga these fabrics can reach lengths of several hundred meters. The tapa fabrics are rolled up and presented on special occasions.

The motifs are painted on using stencils or matrices. Each group of islands has its own individual pattern.

Kava

The kava ceremony is cultivated in the entire Pacific culture and held according to strict rules. The kava drink is made by chewing the kava root soft and then diluting it with water. This mixture is then filtered with the help of coconut fibers and then served in half a coconut shell.

According to the hierarchy, the bowl is passed around among the men present and is to be drunk in one sip. Nowadays, the intoxicating drink is also served as a social drink, and women are also allowed to take part in kava drinking in less conservative circles.

Kava is a pepper plant. It was used in the pharmaceutical industry as an antidepressant and as a remedy for high blood pressure. Demand was correspondingly high until the end of the 1990s. A German study showed that the consumption of kava can lead to liver damage. As a result, the active ingredient was largely withdrawn from the market.

Fakaleiti “Fakaleiti” means “like a woman”. In Tonga it is not uncommon for men to walk around dressed as women and act like them. They are a traditional part of Tongan culture. The same custom exists in Samoa; there the men dressed as women are called Fa’afafine and in French Polynesia mahu o rae rae.

Since Fa’afafine do both women’s and men’s work, they are very valued in their families. Although a large proportion of men are homosexual, this does not necessarily apply to all fakaleiti.

Public holidays

There are a number of public holidays that do not have a fixed date, but are based on the location of Easter. Easter takes place on the first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the beginning of spring. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which ends on Holy Saturday, is 46 days before Holy Saturday. The date for Pentecost is then 50 days after Easter. The Corpus Christi festival is celebrated on the 2nd Thursday after Pentecost. All Saints’ Day is celebrated for Orthodox Christians on the 1st Sunday after Pentecost, but for Catholic Christians the date is fixed on November 1st. On October 31, Protestants celebrate Reformation Day. The Halloween festival also takes place on this day.

Date Holiday
January 1 New Year
March April Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday
April 24 ANZAC Day: Remembrance Day for the soldiers of the Australian-New Zealand Army in WWII
May 4 Crown Prince’s birthday
June 4 Liberation Day
July 4 Birthday of the king
November 4 Constitution Day
November 11 Veterans day
December 4 King Tupou I. day
December 25th and 26 Christmas

Source: Countryaah – Tonga Holidays

Regular cultural events

Date Event
1st week in May the Vava’u Festival is heldon May 4th in honor of the Crown Prince’s birthday. Sports, culture and social events take place on this day
at the beginning of June the Ha’apai Festival takes place on the occasion of Liberation Day
1st week of July the Heilala Festival in the capital, Nuku’alofa, coincides with theking’s birthday.

There is dancing, parades and sports competitions

June July National music festival
September October Agricultural show
end of October Military parade in the capital, Nuku’alofa

Climate

The climate on Tonga is tropical, due to its relatively southern location, however, the climate is not as unbearably hot as e.g. B. on Samoa. The average temperatures can be found in the table.

The season for tropical cyclones is from November to April.

The best time to travel to Tonga

The best time to travel to Tonga is from May to October. The climate at this time is less humid and hot, and one is especially not exposed to the danger of tropical cyclones.

Climate table

Month Average number of rainy days Mean maximum temperatures in (°C) Mean minimum temperatures in (°C)
January 13-15 28-30 21-23
February 11-13 28-30 22-24
March 14-16 28-30 22-24
April 13-15 27-29 21-23
May 09-10 25-29 19-21
June 09-10 24-26 17-19
July 07-08 24-26 17-19
August 07-08 23-25 17-19
September 07-08 24-26 17-19
October 09-10 25-27 18-20
November 10-12 26-28 20-22
December 11-13 27-29 20-22

Tonga: Sightseeing

Royal Palace

The Royal Palace at Nuku’alofa, built in 1867, is a prefabricated wooden house from New Zealand. It is a typical Victorian villa.

Churches

Free Church

The Free Church of Tonga, which was built by the architect Sione Mausia, was built in 1979.

Free Church in Ha-Atehio Si’i Village

The Tonga Free Church in Ha-Atehio Si’i Village was established in 1997.

Special buildings

Fale Tonga

This is Tonga’s house and, in contrast to the houses on the neighboring islands, has closed walls. The roof is traditionally thatched and built over an oval floor plan.

Natural beauties

Coral reefs

These can be found north of the main island of Tongatapu.

Whales Humpback Whales

The whales come every year to give birth here in warmer waters to the calves they received the year before. You can watch the interesting mating rituals here. Meanwhile, the male whales utter chants that can be heard over 100 km underwater. On Tongatapu and Hs’apai you can see whales from June to November, on Vava’u from July to November. In 1979 the king banned whaling.

Tattoo tool

Probably the oldest tattoo tool in the world comes from Tonga.

There are four tattoo combs from around 700 BC. BC, with two of the combs made from bird bones and the other two from human bones. The objects had already been discovered in 1963 on the main island of Tongatapu. But their true age has only recently been established in Australia. In the region, tattooing is still done in the traditional way with a tattoo comb and wooden stick. The tattoo ink is “hammered” into the skin with the help of the stick and the comb. The resulting noise sounds like Tat-Tat, from which the Polynesian term “Tau Tau” arose. This is how today’s English word “tattoo” developed.

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