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Tonga Travel Guide

Catholic Church, Neiafu, Vavau
Catholic Church, Neiafu, Vava'u

Neiafu Sights

One of the overgrown burials in the cemetery between the Westpac Bank of Tonga and Mormon church is of the ancient langi type, and it's believed that a daughter of the 35th Tu'i Tonga is buried here. Also resting in this cemetery is the Rev. Francis Wilson, who established the first seminary in Tonga and died here in 1846. The nameless tombstone right next to Wilson's is that of early Methodist missionary David Cargill, who rendered the Tongan and Fijian languages into writing.

'Utukalongalu Market near the main wharf is crowded with people selling bananas, cabbage, carrots, Chinese lettuce, coconuts, green beans, lettuce, manioc, onions, papaya, tomatoes, taro, yams, zucchini, and oranges. Everything is about one pa'anga a bunch, and you're only assured a fair selection of fresh vegetables if you arrive early. You can also have an inexpensive local lunch here. The largest market is on Saturday. Buy fish directly from locals at the harbor (no fish poisoning problems here).

The old fig tree in front of Neiafu's red-and-white colonial-style post office is a local meeting place. Notice the Spanish monument across the street.

The Vava'u Club up the hill is the former German Club, founded by trader Hermann Karl Guttenbeil in 1875. The old German cemetery is just a bit farther up the hill, past the club and on the left.

For a splendid view of Port of Refuge and much of the archipelago, climb Mt. Talau (131 meters), the flat-top hill that dominates Neiafu to the west. Take the road between the police station and the Flea Market and follow it west for 25 minutes high above the shoreline. Where the road begins to descend and you reach an isolated house on the left, look for a trail up the hill on the right just beyond. Turn right at the top of the hill. This is an easy trip from town.

East of town is Neiafu's old harbor, which was used in the days of sail when it was more convenient to land on the beach. With the advent of steamships, interest shifted to the deeper Port of Refuge Harbor. There's another excellent walk at low tide along the shore from the old harbor to Makave; you pass a freshwater spring.

At Toula village, a half-hour walk south of Neiafu beyond the hotel, is a large cave called Ve'emumuni near the shore with a freshwater pool where the locals swim. To get there, turn left just beyond the Mormon church and go through the village, continuing up the hill past a cemetery to the cave. At low tide you can walk back to the old harbor along the beach in about an hour.