Off the beaten path, Ha'apai is central in both Tonga's geography and history. In the middle of the kingdom, 155km (96 miles) north of Nuku'alofa and 108km (67 miles) south of Vava'u, Ha'apai consists of numerous small, atoll-like islands scattered across the sea. Linked by a causeway, Lifuka and Foa are the largest and the only ones you can visit without being on a sailboat. On the horizon to their west sits the active volcano Tofua, where puffs of steam spew from the rim above its crater lake, and the perfectly shaped cone of its inactive neighbor, Kao.

Today Lifuka and the other islands seem much as they must have been when King George moved his capital to Tongatapu. You'll find some great beaches and fine scuba diving here, but there's not much else to do except relax, explore historical sights in Pangai, the only town, and go diving.