The glassy coast of Nuku’alofa
Our second stop in Tonga was the sleepy little capital of Nuku’alofa. We mostly came here to transfer flights from the Vava’u island group to our next destination in the Hapa’ai island group. But the way the flights worked out, we needed to stay a couple days.
The Royal Palace sits in the center of Nuku’alofa
The capital boasts a population of about 25,000 people, including the royal family of Tonga (which happens to be the only monarchy in the South Pacific). The town, whose name means “abode of love,” rests on the northern side of Tongatapu, the largest island in the kingdom.
To our great surprise we found a restaurant in town that served a pretty stunning lunch
Now when I call this town “sleepy,” I’m referring to its status on Monday through Saturday because on Sunday it is positively dead. Sunday is a day of rest in Tonga. In fact, Tongan law prohibits most people from working on Sunday at all.
Since we flew in on a Saturday, we had no choice but to catch our next flight on Monday because, naturally, there are no flights on Sundays in Tonga. That would be against the law.
So what are we poor tourists expected to do, stuck in a town with everything shuttered up all day? Fortunately the law seems to bend a little to take care of us. Several little resorts on nearby islands offer day trips. So you catch a boat in the morning and spend the day at the resort, have lunch there, swim, sit on the beach, and catch a late afternoon boat back. Back in town, where all restaurants are closed, the hotels are allowed to serve dinner only to their own guests. So somehow it all worked out, and we had a pretty darn nice day of rest after all.
This old wrecked ship is the landmark of Big Mama’s Yacht Club on Pangiamotu Island, where we spent our Sunday
Lunch at Big Mama’s
Late afternoon off the coast of Nuku’alofa, though I’m not sure what the people out there were looking for