Activities and Attractions in Lapaha, Tatakamotonga and Mu’a
Located on the eastern side of Tongatapu on the shores of the Fanga’utu Lagoon, Mu’a is known as the “Ancient Capital of Tonga”. The town is divided into villages that are tightly connected including Lapaha, Tatakamotonga and Talasiu, each renowned for their array of burial tombs of past Tu’i Tonga (a line of ancient kings before the current line of royalty was established). The town is also one of the few with accommodation outside of Nuku’alofa, offering its own array of experiences. Discover them with us in this list of the best things to do in Lapaha and Mu’a!
1. Discover the Ancient Paepae ‘o Tele’a and Terraced Tombs
Starting with a must-see in Mu’a, the Terraced Tombs consist of around 28 pyramid-like tombs, raising Tonga’s ancient rulers to the heavens above. Paepae ‘o Tele’a Royal Tombs is one of the most famous and easiest tombs to visit, located in the Lapaha end of Mu’a. One of the Paepae ‘o Tele’a tombs is of Tele’a, a Tu’i Tonga who reigned during the 16th Century. Check out more fascinating places like this in the 10 Best Historical Sites on Tongatapu.
Location: Signposted along Taufa’ahau Road, Lapaha.
2. Check Out Captain Cook’s Landing Site
On the edge of the Fanga’utu Lagoon just outside of the village of Tatakamotonga 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, Tatakamotonga, southern end of Lapaha.
3. Stay in a Treehouse and Watch a Fire Show at Tukulolo Grounds
Just north of Mu’a is the unique treehouse resort of Tukulolo Grounds. The forest offers a vibrant setting for the fire show that the crew can arrange for guests on request. Be amazed by the skills and captivating lights of a traditional Polynesian fire show during this intimate experience away from the usual crowds these cultural shows tend to attract.
Location: Tukulolo Grounds, signposted along Taufa’ahau Road between Hoi and Makaunga, approximately 2.5 km (1.6 mi) north of Lapaha.
4. Experience a Tongan Village Church Service
Another cultural experience that’s very accessible to visitors is the Tongan church service. On Sunday mornings, the church halls come alive with beautiful harmonies from locals who have been perfecting their vocals their entire lives. In our experience, any church is happy to have visitors to enjoy the service for what is usually around an hour starting around 10 am. Learn more about experiencing a Tongan church service and about church etiquette in the 10 Best Churches in Tonga for Tourists.
Location: Churches in Mu’a include St. Michael’s Catholic Church – Taufa’ahau Road, Lapaha; Free Wesleyan Church – Inland, Tatakamotonga; Latter-Day Saints – Behind the Police Station, Mu’a; Seventh-Day Adventist – Behind Siamoka Cemetery, Mu’a.
5. Have a Giggle at the Fishing Pigs
Probably one of the strangest attractions in Tonga, the Fishing Pigs are essentially a bunch of pigs in the village north of Mu’a, Navutoka, that have decided that they prefer seafood to land fodder. With that, you can almost always see pigs wandering the mudflats along the coast, sticking their head in the water in search of briny goodness. Don’t worry; the brown tourist signs on the side of the road will point you in the right direction of this attraction that locals are extremely proud of!
Location: Signposted along Tahi Road, Navutoka, approximately 6 km (3.7 mi) north of Lapaha.
More Things to Do in Lapaha and Mu’a
That’s it for our list of things to do in Lapaha and Mu’a. For more experiences nearby, check out the following guides:
- 20 Free & Cheap Things to Do on Tongatapu
- Sightseeing on Tongatapu: Top 10 Sights & Natural Attractions
- 50 Best Things to Do on Tongatapu
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Complete Travel Guide to Tongatapu.