The widespread archipelago of some 170 islands which constitute the kingdom of Tonga is obviously less developed than Tahiti although some of the islands harbour luxury tourist resorts. I have not visited the more distant islands but from what I have seen in the capital Nuku'alofa, Tonga appears to be more "westernised" than Western Samoa. I have the impression that the missionaries have had a more profound influence here than in Samoa and that consequently traditional Polynesian values have become little more than folklore here while they still represent a real social force on Western Samoa. Perhaps the example American Samoa has contributed to preserve the values of Western Samoa from decadence.
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Nuku'alofa on the island of Tongatapu is the capital of the kingdom of Tonga. The Post Office is just behind this great tree in the center of town. Commerce and tourism are well developed, a large proportion of businesses being owned by a prosperous Chinese minority which keeps much to itself. There is little to see in Nuku'alofa apart from the several interesting handicraft shops. The rest of the island has however a lot of sites worth a visit for their historical interest or for their natural beauty.
Three other backpackers and I hired a minivan with a guide to tour the island. It was worth it, we saw a number of archeological sites, we went swimming, first in an ice cold cave and then in the warm sea and finally had an early dinner in a lovely spot. It is believed that this great arch called Ha'amonga'a Maui was built by king Tu'itatui in the 13th century but there is no consensus yet on why it was built. Some think it had an astronomical and religious significance similar to that of Stonehenge.
Rocky cliffs line most of the southern shore of Tongatapu island. In some places the pounding seas have carved out blowholes which are impressive even when the Pacific is quiet like on the day this photo was taken.
Early dinner at the end of an interesting tour of Tongatapu island at "The Good Samaritan" with new found friends and our guide Toni (with the cap).
Nuku'alofa's best hotel, The Dateline, puts on a Polynesian culture show for tourists several times a week. The girls doing this Lakalaka dance have generous curves and their skin is smeared with coconut oil to make them more sexually attractive.
According to my guide book, this Ma'ulu'ulu dance is traditionally performed by women without men, sitting down and using only hand movements. I have been told that this dance was permitted and even encouraged by the missionaries who objected to the traditional standing up dances which they found excessively sexually suggestive.