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Tonga Travel Guide

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Nukualofa

Nuku'alofa (population 24,000) is just north of the azure Fanga'uta Lagoon, now sterile after sewage from adjacent Vaiola Hospital eliminated the fish and other marinelife. It's a dusty, ramshackle little town just getting back on its feet after having much of its downtown gutted by fire in 2006. Tourism, industry, commerce, and government are all concentrated here, and the slow-paced South Seas atmosphere hangs on. You'll find a good selection of places to stay, eat, and drink, reasonable entertainment (except on Sunday), a well-developed transportation network, and many reminders of Tonga's Victorian heritage. The name means "Abode of Love." A few days poking around are well spent, but the other islands have more to offer. If you'll be spending a Sunday in Nuku'alofa, buy a few snacks on Saturday to tide you over, as the whole town will be depressing and dead.