Random Photos From the Past Week


You meet the nicest people at the ice cream store.


A nice afternoon at Camp Mekeke.


Lots of steps getting down to the beach at Oholei.


I can visualize Captain Cook’s vessel, “The Endeavour,” sitting at anchor in the bay.

We do get in the water occasionally – this time at Pangai Motu.

We had a great time with Rick and Rosalee Ballard.


We’re hoping you will come and visit, too!


Oholei Beach Resort


Hina lived near the beach at Oholei. She fell in love with Sinilau, and they were married.


One day, Sinilau went fishing, but never returned. Hina lay down in the cave and died of a broken heart.


It is said that no matter how you feel outside the cave, when you enter, you will only be able to think of the your loved ones.


(Never turn your back to the sea.)


All we could think about at Oholei was the buffet dinner and the floor show.


Molokau  –  If these pre-historic looking creatures were human, they would ride Harleys, wear studded leather jackets, and be rude to your mom. They could have been created by the special-effects team on the set of Alien. Their bite is incredibly painful, and they will chase you across the floor, if you’re not quick enough. I use a large volume from our bookshelf (“Orthopaedic Anatomy & Surgical Approaches,” 515 pages) to kill cockroaches, although I did see one bench-press the volume and try to walk away.  But I would probably need the entire set of Encyclopedia Brittanica to kill a molokau.

IMG_6054The one pictured above was on the street in Nuku’alofa.  (Dead). Everyone who has lived in Tonga for more than a few months has a molokau story. One palangi describes how while using a can of bug spray to kill one, it chased after him down the hall. (Again, think “Alien.”)


They’re aggressive little buggers who especially like to come indoors when it’s raining. I am always looking over my shoulder during and after a storm. The molokau is made up of all the nastiness that somehow never made it to the rest of Tonga’s creatures.


Abel Tasman Landing Site

At the northwestern tip of Tongatapu is a monument commemorating Dutchman Abel Tasman’s ‘discovery’ of Tongatapu on 20 January, 1643.

He was in the employ of the Dutch East India Company, on his way back to Indonesia after firstly bumping into Tasmania, then New Zealand. With great European sensibility, he named Tongatapu “Amsterdam.” Luckily, the name didn’t stick.

In 1642, Tasman anchored in a bay off of Tasmania. The sea was too rough to bring a boat to shore so the ship’s carpenter swam through the surf and planted the Dutch flag. Tasman then claimed formal possession of the land. So it went in the 17th century of European exploration of the South Pacific.

For over a century after Tasman’s voyages, (until Cook’s voyages) the remote South Pacific was not visited by Europeans. Australia was only bumped into by accident.

Captain Cook Landing Site

Cook made three trips to Tonga. From Tongatapu, he traveled  to Lifuka, in the Ha’apai Group. There he was met with such entertainment, he wrote, “as would have met with universal applause in a European theater.”


Little did he know that the local chiefs planned to kill him and his crew and loot his ships. He sailed off before they could execute the plan. (William Mariner was the only survivor of a similar plot, when the Tongans did raid his ship, the Port au Prince, at Lifuka, in Ha’apai, many years later. Mariner spent four years living among the Tongans before he was rescued by a passing vessel. (See: “An Account of The Natives of Tonga, in The South Pacific Ocean,” 1827).


Cook was dissuaded by the Tongans from traveling to the Vava’u Group, having been told that there was no suitable anchorage there. In fact, its Port of Refuge is one of the world’s great harbors.


Ha’amonga ‘a Maui

The Burden of Maui  is a stone trilithon located on the north of the island of Tongatapu, near the village of Niutoua.


A trilithon is a structure that consists of two vertical stones with a third stone supporting the top. (The ones you are probably most familiar with, are at Stonehenge.) The Tongan “Stonehenge of the Pacific” is constructed from three coral limestone slabs, each weighing 30-40 tons. It was built around 1200 A.D..

It may have been made by Maui, the legendary demi-god who figures prominently in the traditions of Hawaiians, Tongans ,Tahitians, and Maoris.


If you have seen the movie “Moana,” you can see why Maui would be the only one strong enough to lift the stones into his canoe, and carry them to Heketa, the royal compound of the kings.


The Tongans were the most adventurous deep-sea voyagers of Polynesia at the time the Pacific was explored by Europeans. Their war canoes were a hundred feet long, and could hold up to 150 people.