10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com
10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga

10 Best Historical Sites in Tonga

© TongaPocketGuide.com

Fascinating Historical Places in Tonga

Tonga has an interesting and colourful history of kings, colonisation, tribes and encounters from the other side of the world. To commemorate some of these key points in Tonga’s history, plaques and memorials can be found in historically significant places across the country’s four main island groups, while strange megaliths and ancient tombs also stand as historical places of interest. Check out some of the historical sites in Tonga that you can visit in the list below!

Before we begin, be sure to bookmark A Brief History of Tonga for a little more context into Tonga’s historical sites.

1. Ha’amonga ‘a Maui (Tongatapu)

The most iconic historical site in Tonga is arguably the Ha’amonga ‘a Maui. This ancient coral stone trilithon was said to be constructed in the 13th Century under the rule of Tu’i Tonga Tu’itatui, one of Tonga’s early kings. Interpretation panels at the site in Niutoua explain the historical theories behind the megalith’s construction. This historical attraction can be found on the main island, Tongatapu, along with the 10 Best Historical Sites in Tongatapu & Nuku’alofa.

Location: Signposted along Taufa’ahau Road, Niutoua, east side of Tongatapu.

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

2. Velata Mound Fortress (Ha’apai)

Check out an example of a traditional ditch fortification that was used throughout the South Pacific from the 15th to the 19th Century at the Velata Mound Fortress. Located in the village of Hihifo on the island of Lifuka in the Ha’apai Group, the Velata Mound Fortress is indicated by a plaque explaining the history, as well as a sign with an aerial diagram of the fortress. For more sights on these islands, check out the 10 Best Historical Sites in Ha’apai.

Location: Signposted from the main road (Hala Holopeka), Hihifo, Lifuka Island. From Hala Holopeka Road, take Hihifo Road east, crossing both Tuakolo and Tua Roads. The fortress entrance is easy to spot approximately 200 m (220 yards) down a dirt road that’s fine for 2WD vehicles.

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

3. Paepae ‘o Tele’a and Terraced Tombs (Tongatapu)

Ancient tombs are the most frequent historical site you can find across Tonga, with some of the most famous being the Paepae ‘o Tele’a Royal Tombs. In the village of Lapaha on Tongatapu, the Paepae ‘o Tele’a are examples of just two of around 28 Terraced Tombs found in the area, each in a pyramid-like stone memorial. One of the tombs is of Tele’a, a king (Tu’i Tonga) who reigned during the 16th Century.

Location: Signposted along Taufa’ahau Road, Lapaha, east side of Tongatapu.

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4. Kilikilitefua Wall (Vava’u)

Another historical site that centres around generations of royal families is the Kilikilitefua Wall in Vava’u. The census for the royal family was quite an unusual one around 400 years ago when rocks began to be placed at Kilikilitefua for each member of the family. There were so many volcanic rocks placed here that it made an entire wall (but not quite like that one seen from space). It is said that the wall was a lot bigger before residents at some point started taking stones for their own construction projects… Check out more sites like this across this popular island group to visit in the 50 Best Things to Do in Vava’u.

Location: South of Makave village, ‘Utu Vava’u, Vava’u. From Makave Free Wesleyan Church, follow the road south and keep left at the fork. Continue on this road for approximately 400 m (440 yards) and Kilikilitefua Wall is on your left.

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

5. Tokopuha Folokotoa (‘Eua)

A little hard to find but perhaps one of the most fascinatingly eerie historical sites on the island of ‘Eua, Tokopuha Folokotoa is a coffin-shaped hole within the rock pools of Tufuvai Beach. According to local folklore, during the time of ‘Eua’s legendary warrior Kaufana and his two brothers Talimalolo and Faivalava, only members of the royal families were allowed to be buried on land. As for the rest of ‘Eua’s residents, their bodies would be placed in this crack in the reef floor and sink to the bottom. Needless to say, later generations abolished the practice. Learn more about the island’s fascinating historical places in the 5 Best Historical Sites on ‘Eua.

Location: Tufuvai Beach, in the rock pools directly in front of the southern end of Blue Water Retreat. Best accessed at low tide.

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

6. Abel Tasman Landing Site (Tongatapu)

When it comes to landmarks for where the first Europeans landed in Tonga, Tongatapu has you sorted starting with the Abel Tasman Landing Site on the northwestern tip of the island. An information panel at the site tells about the first encounter between the Tongan people and the Dutch explorer’s crew, while a plaque is also in place to commemorate the occasion that occurred on 21 January 1643.

Location: Northern end of Hihifo Road, north of Ha’atafu, west side of Tongatapu.

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

7. Captain Cook Landing Site (Tongatapu)

And on the edge of the Fanga’utu Lagoon, near the village of Mu’a, is the landing site of British Explorer Captain James Cook. A plaque is in the place where a banyan tree once stood to commemorate the event that took place in 1777. Queen Elizabeth II also famously visited the landmark in 1970.

Location: Signposted along Taufa’ahau Road, Mu’a, east side of Tongatapu.

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

8. Royal Palace (Tongatapu)

An iconic structure on the waterfront of Nuku’alofa, the Royal Palace stands as a symbol of the Kingdom of Tonga. The palace is made of kauri timber and was built in 1864 for King George Tupou I. To this day, it remains the residence of the royal family. Check out more attractions to visit in the city in the 30 Best Things to Do in Nuku’alofa.

Location: Corner of Vaha’akolo and Vuna Roads, Nuku’alofa city centre, central north coast of Tongatapu.

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

9. Mala’ekula Royal Tombs (Tongatapu)

Impossible to miss in a large grassy clearing in the centre of Nuku’alofa, the Royal Tombs are the burial grounds of the Royal House of Tupou dating back to the first in the Tupou line, King Taufa’ahau Tupou I who died in 1893. The historical site is fenced off to the public, so visitors have to just admire the grand statues from afar.

Location: Seen from Meteialona Road, Vaha’akolo Road and Taufa’ahau Road, Nuku’alofa city centre, central north coast of Tongatapu.

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

10. Port Au Prince Memorial (Ha’apai)

Visit a monument just north of Ha’apai‘s airport runway on Lifuka to see the place where the captain and around half of the crew of the Port au Prince were massacred on 26 November 1806. The ship was a French ship, captured by the British and made into a privateer. It was the ship that William Mariner arrived, an English writer who lived with Tongans for four years and kept a detailed journal published as The Tongan Islands, William Mariner’s Account.

Location: Signposted off Hala Holopeka Road, approximately 260 m (850 yards) north of Koulo village and the runway, Lifuka Island, Ha’apai. The memorial is approximately 260 m down the dirt road to the coast (it was just Ok for 2WD vehicles last time we checked).

10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

More About Historical Sites in Tonga and Other Attractions

That’s it for the best historical sites in Tonga. For more about the history of Tonga, take a look at the following:

Finally, inspire yourself with more experiences with the 101 Best Things to Do in Tonga: The Ultimate List. Plus, get even more tips in The Complete Travel Guide to Tonga.


Laura (Lola) S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Tonga. She knows the islands inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Tonga’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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