Country Information: 

In the Kingdom of Tonga (Tonga), an archipelago of over 170 islands with 36 of them inhabited. It’s capital is Nukuʻalofa and its main languages are Tongan and English. About 104,000 people live here (2011). The main religion is the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, established in 1928 as the state religion by Queen Salote Tupou III. Polynesian culture and Christianity also play large roles in society. Its climate is hot and wet from December to April and cool and dry for the rest of the year. The time zone is 18 hours ahead of EST.

Jim’s Perspectives:

This was a fascinating place to visit!  Tongans are the most obese people on the planet and look for any excuse to eat and FEAST.  Interesting that town is called the “Little Banana” (ala Big Apple), although only 100,000 people live here. This is the only kingdom in the South Pacific. Unemployment is a big problem here, and there are many people just sitting around doing little. Most people survive by farming, and by money being sent from abroad.  Important to know that more Tongans live overseas (mostly in Australia and New Zealand) than in Tonga! Young people traveling abroad become seasonal fruit pickers.

Traveled around much of Tonga and 95% of it looks like the pic of the bush!

Fijian men are big and fast … however Tongans are just big. June-Oct is humpback whale and tourist season, and the best time to see the whales are between mid-July through August 15th, when mothers are calving and swim slowly.

Men wear skirts here, called “tupenus”.

Had a chance to go with my guide Rick Sinisa of Hibiscus Tours to the southwestern part of the island, to see the “Blow Holes”.

Stayed at the Moana at Ha”Atafu Beach Resort, which was the best on the island.

One fun fact about Tonga is that it has a well-protected lagoon within it that is perfect for sea kayaking. There are also Royal Tombs found throughout for those who want to learn more about Tonga’s history as a kingdom. Another interesting fact is that Tonga has one of the highest literacy rates in the world at over 99 percent. Tonga was also one of the stopping places of Captain James Cook, a captain commissioned by Britain to navigate the world in the 1700s.


Jim with Chris Paquet, who quit his job on Wall Street to mentor youths in Tonga. Pic taken in his front yard at the skateboard park he built.

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