Ultimate breaks: seeing the South Pacific by boat

Tuesday, 13 August 2015 6:52 AM

The South Pacific is a region that can often be overlooked by travellers seeking luxury in favour of more famous destinations like the Indian Ocean islands or some of the Caribbean archipelagos. It is, however, a wonderful place to discover by boat.

We're going to focus on just one of your options, though, the delightful islands of Tonga.

A bit about Tonga...

Tonga isn't the best known of the Pacific island nations, but it's truly beautiful and well worth exploring in detail. The country is made up of more than 170 isles, which is why it lends itself so well to sailing breaks.

Tongatapu is the main island and also where you'll find Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa. This really is a tropical paradise with pristine white-sand beaches, areas of verdant forest and turquoise waters that lap gently at the shores.

It's located between Fiji and Tahiti - if you've ever visited either of these countries, you'll know that island life is very laidback and you can expect to have the same experience during your time in Tonga.

Sailing in Tonga

To see the best of Tonga, you need to hire a yacht and cruise between some of its many isles. As well as allowing you to cover more ground, this has the added advantage of being a truly luxurious way to explore.

You'll have plenty of privacy on your own boat, in addition to being free to sail where you want and drop anchor whenever you like during your trip. In terms of the sailing in Tonga, it is relatively straightforward, with line-of-sight navigation and steady trade winds throughout the year.

So, you can look forward to a relaxing tour of some of Tonga's prettiest islands, with plenty of time to soak up the sun on the deck of your yacht as you drift peacefully from place to place.

Top attractions in Tonga

If you're looking for more than just a holiday in the sun, Tonga is a great choice as there is a wide range of activities on offer that will keep adventurous travellers happy. Among them are scuba diving on the beautiful coral reefs that surround many of the isles, hiking in pristine rainforests and surfing at Tonga's outstanding breaks.

For a really unforgettable experience plan your holiday in Tonga to coincide with the humpback whale migration, when these huge marine mammals can be seen in the waters around the islands and you can even swim with them. The humpback whale season is typically between June and November, so if this interests you aim to book your trip for this time of the year.

The beaches are, of course, one of the major attractions in Tonga, with glorious sweeps of white sand fringed by swaying green palms a feature along much of the islands' coasts. For a traditional Tongan experience, pay a visit to Hinakauea Beach, where you can enjoy an amazing feast. Many of the dishes are cooked underground, in ovens lined with hot coals, while fresh tropical fruit will usually accompany the meal.

Away from the beaches it's worth making time to visit Swallows Cave, which you'll find on Kapa Island. The entrance to the cavern is dry, so you can walk inside and admire the stalactites that drip down from the roof. Further on, you'll reach a pool where you can snorkel with a torch to see yet more amazing rock formations beneath the water.

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