Photo of the Week: Beneath the Azure Waves of Tonga

  • Tonga Visitor's Bureau (photo), Michael Puniani (text)
  • 28 March 2010

For a taste of old, peaceful, clean and perfect paradise, Tonga is one of the few remaining natural, low-profile, ‘fairytale’ wonders of the world. Viewed from high above, its sparkling clear waters attract even the youngest travellers from all around the world, all eager to experience firsthand the beauty of the Friendly Isles! With white sandy beaches that complement the crystal-clear waters, it’s no wonder Tonga is, for many, the place for a dream getaway.

Photo of the Week (28 March 2010) - Beneath the azure waves of Tonga

The Kingdom of Tonga is located in the South Pacific just north of New Zealand. The tropical climate provides ample opportunity for visitors to head to the beaches and enjoy the Pacific Ocean’s cool breezes. Having snorkeling gear or a surfboard on hand won’t be regretted, but for something more involved, ask a local expert to direct you to the specialised diving/tour companies.

The joy of diving in Tonga is boundless. The water is warm, very clear and dive sites are easy to reach. Once beneath the waves, there’s little current, but lots of canyons, caves and swim-throughs, as well as an abundance of colourful, picturesque underwater wildlife.

The largest of the latter include the islands’ gigantic – but nonviolent – humpback whales, present in Tongan waters between July and November. A swim with these friendly creatures, handled according to careful guidelines that show maximum respect for the animals, is second to none. Doubters are convinced after a single personal encounter.

The whales are safe and free to come and go with no threat from humans, since, in 1979, the Tongan parliament supported a royal decree from the previous year that banned whaling in Tonga’s waters. Her Royal Highness Princess Pilolevu Tuita is the Royal Patron of Whales, working with the Tongan Whale Watch Operators Association, which aims to protect the creatures. This association has the wholehearted support of Vava’u Tourist Association, Whale Watch Operators Association of Vava’u, Tonga Visitors Bureau, IFAW and SPREP.

Tonga’s rich history and cultural traditions have proven time and again that the spirit of the seas is still alive and continues to protect its waters. With coral reefs and sea mangroves providing shelter to its precious marine life, Tonga should be considered lucky in today’s often dirty and polluted world.

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beaches, human interests, islands, marine conservation, Oceania, oceans & reefs, personal experience, photo of the week, Polynesia, responsible travel, Tonga,

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