Tonga Travel Blog› entry 2 of 3 › view all entries
Next we flew to Ha'apai which is one of the main groups of islands in Tonga. (Royal Tongan Airlines flies to Ha'apai Monday- Saturday once or twice a day). If you are flying between islands in Tonga it is best to be aware that the time the plane leaves will probably be no where near to the time it was supposed to leave. Still Tonga is the sort of place that if you miss your flight it doesn't really matter because you can get one tomorrow or if you talk nicely to the pilot he might drop you off on his way to somewhere else...it's not really anything to stress about. Similarly there might be powercuts, but it's ok because after all it's romantic to eat dinner by candle-light. The showers may be cold rain-water ones, but after a long hot hike even these can feel luxurious. You might have bugs in your room, but none of them are poisonous and more often then not there will be fat geckos around to gobble them all up. Plus in general the Tongan people are a friendly bunch, who will try and make sure you have a confortable and enjoyable stay.
Anyway we stayed in the middle of Pangai (the "capital city" on Ha'apai's main island Lifuka), above the Mariners cafe. (small but main tourist hang-out), two minutes walk from tourist info who if you ask will open up the museum for you. We didn't go in, which is a shame as it is billed as the World's smallest museum. We were also close to the postoffice, bank and shops, but the location of the guest-house was definately not noisy.
We rented some bikes out from the local church and spent most of our days cycling from Lifuka over the causeway to the neighbouring island of Foa. After cycling through Foa's villages with friendly locals greeting us along the way, trying to avoid cycling into piglets ect you get to a lovely sandy beach (although there are so many lovely sandy beaches along the way), cafe and Happy Ha'apai Divers dive centre. Through Ha'apai Happy dive centre we arranged to go a whale watching tour. Simon really wanted to see some whales (after the disappointment of not seeing them in Canada), so I thought why not? it will be a nice day out sailing.So I was pretty shocked when I found out that they expected you to put on a wetsuit and go snorkelling with the whales. Fortunately the skipper and crew said that I didn't have to swim with the whales if I didn't want to, and after all that there weren't any whales about anyway,However I was happy because I got to see flying-fish,and everyone else seemed happy snorkelling about on the reef. It really was a lovely day spent on the catamaran, and you really get the impression that these tours don't disturb the whales, unlike some of the other ones which we didn't go on. We would definately recommend this dive centre to anyone thinking of visiting Ha'apai.
Then we would cycle back to the guest-house. Cycling of Lifuka and Foa is great especially if like me you are not very confident on a bike. There is very little traffic and the maximum speed limit throughout Tonga is 40km/hour, lower in villages. The roads are good and there are very few hills. Plus one of the great things about Tonga is that it usually rains during the night so it's unlikely you will get caught out in a shower.
If cycling or walking is not your thing then there are a few taxis available which are a cheap way on getting to the airport or dive centre, or local buses which are even cheaper.