It is amazing how our body clock adjusts so easily. The time read 4.52am and I just woke up moments ago. My princess in Singapore asked me why I am awake at this time? I told her that my body has adjusted to “Tonga time” even though I am back in New Zealand. For the past few days when I was in Tonga, I have been getting up at this hour. You see, I have been chasing sunrise.


I pull the blankets around me as I type, for it is quite cool here. The air is still and I can hardly hear a sound. Even the birds have not wake yet.

This is a stark contrast from Tonga. At this hour enthusiastic roosters would be screeching away, the occasional vehicles trudging along and the church’s bell chiming. Breathe in deep and one shall inhale sweet fresh nature mingled with a slight burning smell. At this time, Tongatapu is very much alive.

First sunrise of the world on 05.11.2013

There are over 170 islands in Tonga, and a tour operator told me that only 45 are occupied at present. Also known as the sacred South, Tongatapu is the main island of the kingdom of Tonga. It is also the most populous with approximately 70%+ of the national population residing there. Nuku’alofa, the capital, lies somewhere at the north of Tongatapu.

My very tattered copy of map.

As mentioned previously, Tonga is not your typical tourist destination. Locals whom I have met often asked, “why have you chose to visit Tonga?” They do this with wrinkled brows – as if unable to fathom why anyone would be interested to visit. Well, Tonga certainly has her charms, in a somewhat rustic manner. And Life is relatively simple here. If you are one who can appreciate the very basic of life, do give this country a chance.


Blowholes along the rugged coast at Houma.

Prior to my arrival, I could not find much information on my destination. In fact, the more I try to research, the more confused I was. Maybe I was just not in my element. After all, I have been “fakapicopico” (“lazy” in Tongan language) lately. Anyway, I would like to share my encounters and observations, so that you do not unwittingly become the next undiscerning traveller.

Click here for 5W1H That Travellers Should Know About Tongatapu

5 comments on “Tongatapu, The Sacred South

  1. Seems like a great place!

  2. hi, karen
    Your blog is fantasfic.I am been back to China and miss the trip in Tonga with you so much.

  3. Rufus Girard

    This is a most enchantng write up. I’m thinking before leaving the South Pacific, this is one place to rest up.

    • It is a special place; many stories and emotions. I think you might like it:) I happened to come across a dated copy of national geographic at Moana Lodge, about Samoa – and the way the author describe the south pacific island is wonderful!

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