‘Eua is a large hilly island near Tongatapu. Off the beaten tourist track, it can be reached by taking the short flight from Fu’amotu Airport departing daily from Tongatapu (except Sundays), or by taking a boat ride across the sea passage separating ‘Eua from Tongatapu.
‘Eua is one of the oldest islands of the Pacific, 19km long and 7.5km wide with the highest point 312m. Millions of years ago sections of the sea floor were pushed up and tilted by huge earth movements. Sedimentary rock is round on the ridgetops. On the narrow eastern side different limestone layers have eroded away forming high cliffs and steep valleys. There are spectacular views and deep limestone holes, passages, caves, pools, springs and streams. On the western side the land slopes in three terraces and the villages are on a wide plain about 100m above sea level. The last remaining stands of thick Tongan rainforest are found clinging to the steep south eastern spine of the island, where unfortunately it is still being destroyed by slash and burn farmers. These rainforests host 14 species of land birds, including the cheeky red and green ‘Eua parrot. ‘Eua is a large hilly island near Tongatapu. Off the beaten tourist track, it can be reached by taking the short flight from Fu’amotu Airport departing regularly from Tongatapu (except Sundays), or by taking ferry ride across the sea passage separating ‘Eua from Tongatapu. For the locals, the wonder of ‘Eua is the abundance of rich soil for farming. Sinilau brought Hina from Samoa to Tonga and they came to the main island at dawn. To make sure the Samoans did not find her, he hid Hina in a big cave, and he told a rat to protect her from anyone trying to take her. While he was away to find food an octopus came. The rat fought it and bit one of its arms off, but the octopus stole Hina, taking her away to the sea. When Sinilau came back he found the rat busy eating the arm. The rat told him what happened and they rushed to the beach, but it was tool ate ’ they could see the two heads floating towards another island. He called that island ‘e ua ’ ’the two’ ‘Eua is one of the oldest islands of the Pacific. It is 19km long and up to 7.5km wide; the highest point, 312m, is on the north/south ridge. On the narrow eastern side of the island, different limestone layers have eroded into high cliffs and steep valleys. There are many spectacular views, and deep limestone holes, passages, caves, pools, springs and streams. On the wide western side the land slopes in three terraces. All the villages are on a wide plain about 100m above sea level. This was once a lagoon and the steep Lakataha stream was the lagoon’s opening to the sea. Most of the forest has been cleared and replaced with fern, introduced timber trees, and farms. Slopes of exposed red soil are eroded by wind and rain, and are less fertile because nutrients leach away. There are large areas of grassland; some areas were there even in Cook’s time, and sheep farming until the 1930’s created more. A National Park is proposed in the southeast to protect some remaining native forest, and keep the great variety of vegetation and bird life. The villages of ‘Eua have people of different origins; Houma, ‘Ohonua, Tufuvai and Pangai are of ‘Euans; the nine villages of ‘Euafo’ou were settled by the people shifted off Niuafo’ou in 1946; Ha’atu’a and Kolomaile were settled by people shifted off ‘Ata last Century; ‘Ahau has developed as people migrate from Tongatapu and Ha’apai.
The forest on ‘Eua is special. ‘Eua is one of the oldest islands in the Pacific, and its ancient forest has had time to develop unique plant species in the many different environments. The steep-sided valleys, which are sheltered and extra warm, grow many ferns. On the western slopes of the summit ridge the trees are lower growing, such as feto’umaka, because of the wind, mist, and lower temperatures. There is no bush undergrowth, but many mosses, ferns and lichens. There are more varieties of plants on ‘Eua than on any other Tongan island. For example, of all the 83 known ferns in Tonga, 54 are on ‘Eua; 14 are only on ‘Eua and 11 are only on Tafahi. The great variety of plant life on ‘Eua will only continue if forest is kept.
‘Eua Island Tonga has more information on ‘Eua.
Rory Travel recording amazing scenes with the whales off ‘Eua.
Underwater Ally Adventures, does the trip to ‘Eua from Tongatapu for a hike.
And the hectic view of getting there and hanging around with family (and cows?)