Magic Carpet Journals


Cruising through Paradise continued: 

The Dawn Princess sails to The Kingdom of Tonga and the

Society Islands


In the Kingdom of Tonga Heather and Barry  Minton found The Friendly Islands of Vava'u and Tongatapu   then sailed to Papeete on the island of Tahiti



Our first two ports of call were in the Kingdom of Tonga (called The Friendly Isles by Captain Cook), to the island Vava’u and the port of Nuku’alofa, which is the Capital on the island of Tongatapu.  This fiercely independent nation has a constitutional monarch, King George Tupou V and is a protectorate of Britain and part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Compared to other island nations they are rather poor by our living standards and live a subsistence lifestyle.  Their vehicles are old and battered almost to the point of being un-roadworthy and there was very little in the shops in the way of consumer goods.  However, the people were friendly and the children were well fed, clean and happy.

The Tongans are strongly Christian and there were many denominations present on the island. Education is a high priority and many children travel to Australia or New Zealand for higher education and for work, so most of the people were fluent in English.

Royal Palace

The King has relinquished many of his powers to an elected parliament and is now ambassador for his Kingdom.  He is in the process of building a tourist industry, but a large injection of funds is needed to really get things “up and running.” However, Princess Cruises and other lines now call on a regular basis so hopefully things will gradually improve.

Although we were unlucky to visit on a very rainy day and therefore did not see the Tongan islands at their scenic best, this however meant that the blowholes that we visited were particularly spectacular.




Our next stop was French Polynesia and the capital of Papeete on the large island of Tahiti (404 sq.miles). We were greeted with music and song by the local Hei Tahiti Folkloric Group in full costume and were also entertained by them in the ship’s theatre that evening.

Hei Tahiti Folkloric Group Dancers

Also known as The Society Islands they were originally colonized by the French and, although they are now self governing, are still a French territory. The islanders are prosperous, very friendly and outgoing, and speak Tahitian, French and English.  We enjoyed exploring the streets, shopping, and touring the island.

Captain Cook spent some time here to witness the transit of Venus in 1769, and a lighthouse, built in 1867, still stands at Point Venus and remains operational.


The drama of the “Mutiny on the Bounty” was played out on these islands and this story is well known (We went into more detail in our Norfolk Island story). The National Geographic Society erected a monument to commemorate the naval feats of Captain Bligh. The breadfruit tree under which this monument is erected is an offshoot of one of the original trees Captain Bligh introduced to the Caribbean Islands in 1793.

Bligh memorial

We also viewed some of the scenic views of this lovely island including the Faarumai Valley with its spectacular waterfall. 


Faarumai Valley Waterfall


Cruising Through Paradise continued: the next ports of call on this Magic Carpet are Morea and Bora Bora

This is the link to Heather and Barry's story and pictures of  Norfolk Island


Story and pictures by Heather and Barry Minton


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Last Updated on November 04, 2011 by M. Maxine George editor.

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