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Island Excursions

You will have a much wider choice of watersports activities on Vava'u. Here they are concentrated in the huge lagoon on Tongatapu's north shore, especially at resorts on the small islets off Nuku'alofa. In fact, the most popular way to spend a day -- particularly a very slow Sunday in Tonga -- is swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, dining, or just hanging out at the flat, small islands of Pangaimotu, Fafa, or 'Atata, each of which has a resort just a few miles off Nuku'alofa. These little beachside establishments have restaurants and bars, too.

Pangaimotu Island Resort (tel. 23-759) on Pangaimotu is the oldest and closest of the offshore resorts, and it's my favorite by far. Hanging over a lovely beach, its main building oozes slapped-together, old South Seas charm. Its boat usually leaves Faua Jetty on Vuna Road at 11am Monday to Friday, and at 11am and noon on Saturday, and 10am, 11am, and noon on Sunday. They return in the late afternoon. Round-trip fare is T$15 (US$7.50/£3.75) per person. Once there, a chalkboard menu offers burgers and sandwiches, and owner Earle Emberson serves icy-cold brews from an ice box behind the bar. The lagoon here is safe for swimming, and there's a children's playground.

Fafa Island Resort (tel. 22-800), a German-owned, Robinson Crusoe-like establishment, operates its own sailboat from Faua Jetty daily at 11am. Round-trip transfers and lunch cost T$70 (US$35/£18).

Royal Sunset Island Resort (tel. 21-155) on 'Atata, the farthest from Nuku'alofa, charges T$58 (US$29/£15), including transfers and lunch.

Golf

You won't be playing any golf on Sunday, but you can every other day at the flat 9-hole Manamo'ui Golf Course, home of the Tonga Golf Club. The tour desk at the International Dateline Hotel (tel. 21-411) can arrange equipment rentals and tee times on this somewhat-less-than-challenging course, which is on the main road between the airport and town.

Sailing

In addition to the charter yachts based in Vava'u, Sailing Tonga (tel. 874-2228; www.sailingtonga.com) has the 15m (49 ft.) yacht Impetuous that's available for charter anywhere in Tonga. It's one of the best ways to explore the more remote islands in the Ha'apai group, and do some scuba diving while you're at it. This crewed craft has three cabins, each with its own head (restroom) with shower. Rates start at US$190 (£95) per person per day if six persons go, and increase to US$440 (£220) per person per day if only two are on board. The skipper, cook, and provisions are included.

Scuba Diving & Snorkeling

Although diving off Tongatapu plays second fiddle to diving off Vava'u, the reefs offshore have some colorful coral and a variety of sea life. Deep Blue Diving Centre, on Vuna Road at Faua Jetty (tel./fax 23-379; www.deep-blue-diving.to), has dives to Hakaumana'o and Malinoa Reef Reserves, two protected underwater parks, and to nearby 'Eua Island, which has one of the largest underwater caves in the South Pacific (the entry is 28m/92 ft. deep). A two-tank dive costs about T$140 (US$70/£35), including equipment. Nondivers can go on many of his diving trips for T$40 (US$20/£10), including equipment.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.