|Tonga is a very flat country compared to where we have been.|
|The Aquarium: the WARC hangout above the anchorage.|
Tonga is the only kingdom in the southern hemisphere and has the reputation of being “the friendly islands.” Indeed they are! Tonga is a monarchy and the King’s birthday is celebrated on July 4th. This year he will celebrate it here in Neiafu, Vava’u so the people are busy preparing for the event.There are three different island groups that make up the Kingdom of Tonga that stretch over 500 miles from north to south. There are 170 islands of which 50 are inhabited. The island chain lies along the Tonga Trench where the Pacific Plate, the Tonga Plate and the Australian Plate grind into each other. This action gives rise to a lot of underwater volcanic activity!
The King lives in the capital Nuka’alofa, Tongatapu over 150
miles south. That doesn’t seem far to us with cars and drive twice that distance
to our cottages up north, but it is a long way by boat!
|Beautiful sunsets to the west.|
|St. Joseph's Catholic Church|
|Dressed in traditional Sunday best!|
Here in Neiafu, you can see that this country is less developed than French Polynesia. The churches have great power over the people and many criticize the money put into the churches when the people are so poor. Religion is very strong and highly influences the people.
|Young girls in their Sunday best.|
|Traditional men's wear.|
|Students on the way to school from church. Each school|
has different colors. Notice the wrap worn by the boys.
This is common in many island counties.
|Same view as above, but in the morning.|
We were first told not to wear shorts and tank tops and that men could be fined for being bare chested. Here in Neiafu where they depend on the yachties for much of their income, this didn’t seem to be a problem. As explained in one of the shops, they realize they need to accept what the rest of the world is doing. Even the locals are wearing tank tops, but everyone is still respectful - especially on Sundays.