You will cross the international date line before arriving, thus loosing one day. The dock is within walking distance of town, a bit of a walk you will pass the Tourist Information center, where you can ask about tours. When you disembark at Nukualofa, there is no shortage of minivans and touts asking you to join their tour. Sharing a tour is a good option.
Nukualofa, a few years ago, was badly damaged by rioting and fires. Although a lot has been repaired, it still shows. If time allows a tour of the island of Tongatapu is recommended.
Printable map to take along.
The Kingdom of Tonga (Tongan for "south") is an archipelago in the south Pacific Ocean comprising 169 islands, 36 of them inhabited, stretching over a distance of about 800 kilometers (500 miles) in a north-south line. The islands lie south of Samoa and are about a third of the way between New Zealand and Hawaii.
Tonga is the only surviving monarchy among the island nations of the Pacific Ocean, as well as being the only island nation never to have been formally colonized.
Nuku'alofa Town is the capital of Tonga, sitting on an narrow isthmus facing the Pacific Ocean to the north, and the turquoise but polluted Fanga'uta Lagoon to the south. With a population of just 30,000, it is a quiet, sprawling and functional town with few tourist attractions except for the Royal Palace and bustling market, few shops and lots of accommodation mostly aimed at business people and Tongans visiting from their new-found homes overseas.
The most unique attraction is the Royal Palace in the heart of downtown. Although not open to the public, you get a good view from the waterfront of the colonial wooden building which was built in 1867. Another attraction is the Royal Tombs, set in a manicured park which is closed to the public though visible through the fence. If you want to get close to Royalty, attend the Centenary Church on Sunday - this is where the King and Queen worship.
If you are after handicrafts, Langafonua, a women's co-operative in downtown, is the most reliable source with reasonable prices. The harbor wall along Vuna Road, where most of Nuku'alofa's tourist accommodation is located, is good for a stroll and spotting the offshore islands if nothing else to do but the beach is of coarse coral and often littered but is OK for swimming.
The clothing here is unique. About half the men wear an ankle-length lava-lava, which we would call a wrap-around skirt. They top that with a short-sleeved shirt, and then, if it’s formal wear (church, legal business, some jobs), they tie a piece of tapa around the waist with a woven leather belt-like device.
Talamahu market is a good place to visit on Saturdays - a busy place by Tongan standards. A few pleasant cafes and restaurants in the town center allow you to escape the drone and an internet cafe or bus stand may be the only reason to make a second visit.
The national currency is the Pa'anga, or Tongan dollar. $1.00 is about TOP 2
Official languages Tongan, English
Shopping hours Mon-Fri 0800-1700, Sat 0800-1200. On Sundays everything is closed.
1 Jan New Year's Day.
25 Apr ANZAC Day.
4 Jun Emancipation Day.
12 Jul Birthday of the Heir to the Crown of Tonga.
1 Aug Official Birthday of the King of Tonga.
4 Nov Constitution Day.
4 Dec Tupou I Day.
25 Dec Christmas Day.
26 Dec Boxing Day.
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