‘Eua’s Most Fascinating Historical Landmarks
Most travellers flock to ‘Eua‘s dramatic coastline to revel in its natural sea arches and verdant forest and to do a spot of whale watching. However, a tiki tour around the island will reveal fascinating historical sites relating to ancient Polynesian legends and rituals performed on the island under the reign of various kings. Take a step through time with the help of this guide to the best historical sites on ‘Eua.
1. Tokopuha Folokotoa
A little hard to find but perhaps one of the most fascinatingly eerie historical sites on ‘Eua, Tokopuha Folokotoa is a coffin-shaped hole within the rock pools of Tuluvai Beach. 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 Tuluvai Beach in the 5 Best Beaches on ‘Eua.
Location: Tuluvai Beach, in the rock pools directly in front of the southern end of Blue Water Retreat. Best accessed at low tide.
A site that many visitors to ‘Eua stumble across at one point or another, Lakufa’anga is famous for its dramatic cliff formations, rock gardens, wild horses and the Li’anga Huo ‘a Maui natural archway. The legend of this location, however, is one of tragedy for a family that used to live on these cliffs during a time of famine. Their only source of food was the fā (pandanus fruit). When the fā started to run low, the parents of the family threw themselves off the cliffs in the hope of saving their children. Soon after, the food ran out and the children also met the same fate. There’s also a story that the family all turned into turtles, which you can learn more about from local guides or the interpretation panel erected and Lakufā’anga Cliffs. Learn more about the attractions in this area in the Top 10 Sights & Natural Attractions on ‘Eua.
Location: South coast of ‘Eua. Ask about island tours to the Rock Gardens with your accommodation or the Tourist Information Centre in ‘Ohonua (just up the road from the ferry terminal). Alternatively, this site is accessible via a high-clearance rental car (like a Nissan X-Trail). Take the main road all of the way south until you reach a gate that you’ll need to open (and close behind you). The road turns into well-established grass trails for vehicles to explore the area.
3. Soldier’s Grave
Situated at the highest point of the island atop Funga Te’emoa at 312 m (1,024 ft), the grave of Lance Corporal Alan Ernest Yealands provides a far-flung historical site to discover. He was stationed in ‘Eua during World War 2 as part of the Coast Watchers with the role of observing and reporting any unusual activity along Tonga’s coastline. After he was killed by friendly fire, Yealands was buried by his comrades at this solitary location, now known as “Soldier’s Grave” or “Lonely Grave“.
Location: Funga Te’emoa on the east coast of ‘Eua. The grave is only accessible by 4WD using the logging roads through the ‘Eua forestry area. Due to the poor state of the road, it takes approximately 1 hr 30 mins from the main road including time to take photos.
No one would give this site a second look if it wasn’t for the interpretation panel drawing you in on the logging road to the Lokupo Lookout in the ‘Eua National Park. Siatapu is the residence of the Tu’i Tonga Tu’itatui on ‘Eua. Learn more about Tonga’s history of kings in A Brief History of Tonga.
Location: On the roadside towards Lokupo and Lau’ua Lookouts and Rat’s Cave, toward the east coast of ‘Eua.
5. Pangai Mounds
Another one easy to miss when racing down towards Lakufa’anga Cliffs and Rock Gardens, the Pangai Mounds is where the first pangai (administrative capital village) was located. Each mound here had a residence built on top and was where the first fanongonongo tokoto was held. This was a form of communication by lying on the ground and shouting messages.
Location: A sign indicates its location along the final stretch of straight road leading to Lakufa’anga Cliffs (see above).
6. Hafu Pool (Kumete ‘a ‘Aho’eitu)
Not just a popular place to cool down on a hot day, Hafu Pool (also known as Kumete ‘a ‘Aho’eitu) is also a historical site. This site was the bathing place of a famously handsome manaia (warrior) named Tu’i Ha’atala. It is said that the water that dripped down him as he rose up out of the pool caused the stream that leads down to Hafu Pool and the Heke Stream.
Location: Signposted between Mata’aho and ‘Esia villages down a narrow 1.8 km (1.1 mi) dirt road. A high-clearance vehicle is advised.
More Historical Sites in ‘Eua
That’s it for our main historical sites on the island of ‘Eua. However, many of the natural attractions on the island are shrouded in legend adding a flair of historical significance to them, including Li’anga Huo a Maui, Fangatave Beach, the Rock Gardens and more. For details on these sights can be found in the following guides:
- Sightseeing on ‘Eua: Top 10 Sights & Natural Attractions
- 20 Best Things to Do in ‘Eua
- 5 Best Beaches on ‘Eua
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Complete Travel Guide to ‘Eua.