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  • Writer's pictureGunnar Garfors

Tonga. Best Discovered on a Two-Wheeler.

My debut as a renter of scooters. In front of some of the blowholes in Tonga.

The blow holes along the south coast will keep you entertained for hours.

How to see a fair amount of a country if you only have a day? If the country is Tonga, renting a scooter will do the trick. That is if you are happy seeing only Tongatapu, the main island where the capital Nuku’alofa is located. Of course, no one should go to Tonga for only a day, as I discovered yesterday. James Cook arrived in Tonga in 1773 and soon came up with the name “Friendly Islands.” It is not hard to understand why, I have rarely experienced such hospitality. And I did not want to leave, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Keleti Beach is rather unique. The waves keep beating up the corals that protect the shallow water where you can swim in peace and quiet. It is just down from Kelati International Resort, very different from an awful and run of the mill ‘all-inclusive’ place.

Tonga is made up by 176 island, 40 of which are inhabited. The south coast of Tongatapu is made up by fantastic unspoiled small beaches and hundreds of “blowholes.” Big waves force ocean water through tubes in the rocks and create spectacular geysir effects. The bigger the waves, the higher the water explosion and the louder the sound. It is very fascinating to watch and may occupy you for hours.

Showing off on Keleti Beach. Quite a waste, really. There were no one else on this paradise stretch of sand.

You can get around by a rental car or by taxi, but the latter is rather expensive. Or you can rent a scooter. It will set you back 20USD for 6 hours, but driving around on one lets you see, listen to and smell the country in a very different way than in a car. Maybe more importantly, it makes you get very close to the locals in villages and along roads. If you drive a car, some people will wave and smile. If you drive a scooter, almost everyone does. Many of them do also want to chat to you. Not to mention how fun it is to drive a scooter. I had never rented one before, and didn’t even think about it until a waitress recommended me to do so. She said it would be too hot to walk around. I never looked back. Not until my photo was commented upon by a friend did I realize that I had been driving around on the scooter with a bike helmet. How could I know? I am a scooter renter novice. It won’t happen again.

Keleti Beach. Empty. Amazingly enough.

Driving around, you will be amazed by the green and lush palm tree forests on the island. Or if you prefer the water, there are activites from here to Antarctica. How about swimming with giant whales? Plus of course the usual suspects such as diving, snorkelling and fishing.

The beaches are pristine, do not assume that you have seen better before. I stumpled upon one, just down from Keleti International Resort. The owners are very friendly and will let you go through the resort garden to swim, although I’d certainly recommend you to stay there or to enjoy drinks in the bar with the view of a lifetime. The so called resort is of the very unpretentious sort, but with an incredible location! The beach, the sounds of the waves, the view and the remoteness must be experienced. Of course, when I say remoteness, that is a very relative term in little Tonga. In 15 minutes by scooter, you will be back in Nuku’alofa.

I will just let the photographs talk. I little advice is to not rule out Tonga if you are considering a trip to the Pacific. Or else, you are committing a crime against your own holiday memories.

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