Tongatapu, or the ‘sleepy south', is generally the starting point for discovering the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga.
The Tongan capital of Nuku'alofa (Abode of Love) is a colourful harbor-side town of commerce and government, as well as the seat of the South Pacific's only monarchy.
From Nuku'alofa ferryboats and trading ships prepare to sail to the outlying island groups of Vava'u, Ha'apai and Niuas.
The Talamahu Market is a vibrant affair, selling fresh tropical produce and authentic arts and crafts. Highlights include the terraced royal tombs of former Tongan kings, the elegant waterfront palace, as well as the abundant snorkeling, sailing, surfing and whale watching on offer.
Tongatapu's protected lagoon is ideal for sea kayaking, as are the deserted islands and sand spits nearby, where you can drop anchor and explore some amazing coral reefs.
Offshore resorts combine the rustic with the romantic, while ‘Anahulu Cave and the Mapua ‘a Vaea blowholes are brilliant for their rugged, natural beauty.