After we left Bora Bora we sailed Southwest towards Tonga. According to the calendar we sailed for four days but it really was only three as we crossed the International Dateline before we reached Tonga. We went to bed on February 19th and awoke on February 21st.
The Kingdom of Tonga is comprised of 170 islands of which only about 36 are populated. Until 2010 it was an absolute Monarchy. Today it is a constitutional monarchy. The capital city is Nuku’alofa on the main island of Tongatapu. The kingdom has a population of approx. 100,650 people, 70% of which live on the main island.
We arrived at Nuku’alofa early in the morning and the craft and souvenir vendors already lined the pier. We were also treated to welcoming music by a local brass band. Across from the ship you could see the royal palace of the current king.
We left our ship for our excursion entitled “Island Encounter & Ancient Tonga”.
We first drove to the royal palace for a closer look. Our guide told us that he was wearing the clothes one wore when visiting the King.
A distance behind the palace are the royal tombs. The tombs are usually decorated with brightly colored quilts, but due to the rain the previous day they decided not to display the quilts today. However a grave does not have to be royal for a quilt to be displayed. We’ve included a picture of one of the local cemeteries. It really is full of color and seems more like a celebration of life then death.
Next we went to the Ancient Tonga cultural show. The show was about two hours and covered Tongan music, dancing, ceremonies, customs, dress, cloth making, food preparations, and medicines. While this is a very Christian country (other religions are frowned upon), many of these rituals are still performed today. It was a great show and informative. Ancient Tonga is a family business and is operated by one extended family. The little boy is already being trained to become a drummer.
Lastly we visited a local blow hole at the beach. When we got back to the ship it was low tide and people were walking on the reefs collecting fish.
As we left, Tongan dancers wished us a final farewell.