Last updated: 01:25 PM ET, Mon August 08 2016

5 Things to See in Tonga (Besides That Shirtless Flagbearer)

Destination & Tourism | Janeen Christoff | August 08, 2016

5 Things to See in Tonga (Besides That Shirtless Flagbearer)

PHOTO: Mapu a Vaea blowholes. (Photo courtesy Thinkstock) 

Tonga is a South Pacific island kingdom made up of more than 170 islands. It has largely escaped the tourism hype, but after its shirtless flagbearer made a splash at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, that could all change. 

Tonga is known for its beaches, lagoons, atolls and pristine landscapes. It can be as adventurous or relaxing as you like – depending on whether you choose a remote jungle adventure or soaking up the sun on a deserted beach. As with many island nations, the country abounds with adventure activities, water sports and natural wonders. While you can occupy your time with tours and excursions, there are a host of traditional sites to take in during your visit.

Here are five things to see in Tonga while you stalk that shirtless flagbearer:

Ha'amonga a Maui Trilithon

Ha'amonga trilithon

Photo via Flickr/Vilimaka Foliaki

This stone trilithon, a three-stone structure made of two vertical posts and a third on top, is located on the island of Tongatapu near Niutoua. It is one of the most well-known trilithons outside of Europe and the Middle East, taking its place next to others such as Stonehenge and the megalithic structures of Malta. 

Tonga nobleman say that the trilithon was built to symbolize the brotherhood of the sons of Tu’itatui and the Talaihaapepe. It was constructed in the 13th century during the reign of Tu’i Tonga Tu’itatui. 

Ha'apai Islands

Ha’apai Islands are a group of 51 islands that include the highest point of Tonga and the geological center of the the country. It is said that the famous mutiny on the HMS Bounty took place in the waters around here and the quaint old town of Pangai, located on the main island of Ha’apai is home to historic churches and colonial-style homes. 

The islands are home to around 6,000 people, but offer up stunning beaches and lagoons for visitors. 

Flying foxes of Kolovai

The best way to get to the village of Kolovai is by bicycle and its worth the ride. Nature lovers will be able to see the bats of Kolovai, also known as flying foxes. The flying foxes are fruit bats with faces that resemble foxes and they are protected by the royal family of the Kingdom of Tonga. The Flying Fox Sanctuary is home to thousands of these nocturnal creatures.  

Houma blowholes
In the village of Houma, visitors can see the Mapu a Vaea, or ‘Whistle of the Noble.” These are natural blowholes found in the ocean off the island of Tongatapu. The sound occurs when waves crash onto the reef. Water flowing through the narrow channels of the volcanic rock is pushed out forcefully creating a plume-like effect and the sound and appearance of a blowhole. Tours around the island often feature stops here.  

READ MORE: Entirely New Island Formed Off Tongan Coast  


This is the capital of the Kingdom of Tonga and is situated on the north coast of Tongatapu. Here visitors can see the Royal Palace of Tonga as well as the country’s parliament and national archives. Visitors are not allowed to enter palace grounds and gardens or the palace itself, but visitors can get a good glimpse from the low surrounding walls.

Photo via Wikipedia

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