While the majority of travelers flock to popular islands in the Caribbean, many Polynesian islands remain untouched making them perfect for those seeking a secluded island vacation. Tonga is one of such underrated islands that can be tagged as a hidden gem in the Polynesian groups of islands although earlier this year, the Island was ravaged by a volcanic eruption and a Tsunami that destroyed a lot of its infrastructure. Information about the level of damage caused by this volcanic Tsunami remains scanty but while the island slowly rebuilds, here are some things about Tonga you probably didn’t know before the eruption.

8 Mapu’a ‘a Vaea Blowholes

Tonga is an island of many natural attractions and Mapu’a blowholes are some of the most spectacular. This natural attraction is characterized by the constant blowing of water into the air from channels in the volcanic rocks when waves from the sea hit the reef. The attraction is located on the island of Tongatapu on Tonga’s South coast and its name translates to “Whistle of the Noble.” The fate of Mapu’a ‘a Vaea Blowholes is not known as the impact of the eruption was heavily felt in Tongatapu, although the natural attractions will most likely remain unspoiled and may still be available for viewing in the future.

7 A Great Place To Swim With Humpback Whales

Swimming is an amazing thing to do in Tonga as the island offers lots of beaches to enjoy the activity. But not just swimming as the Island is known for its abundance of humpback whales which come to the waters of this to mate and give birth to their young ones. For the large part of the year starting from July to November, one can swim and catch sights of these large magnificent creatures from close range. Only a few places on earth offer this unique experience and even though there are fears of the water getting contaminated by ash, swimming with whales is definitely a thing to look forward to doing in the future while in Tonga.

Related: Whale Watching: The Best Places Around The World To See These Majestic Animals

6 Hiking In Eua

Eua was (and probably still is) Tonga's most popular hiking destination and also the oldest island in the country. The island’s landscape is made up of natural attractions from the unique rock formations to lush forests, and impressive hills and cliffs. Popular hikes here before the eruption included; Taina’s Place - for views of lush forests, Rock Garden Hike - for views of unique rock formations, and Forest Plantation Hike - for more views of lush forests. The fate of Eua remains largely unknown and so are its amazing hiking trails but it could remain the best place for hiking even though it was hit hard by the disaster.

5 Mesmerizing Sunsets At Ha’atafu Beach

Ha’atafu beach was unarguably the most popular beach in Tonga. With its beautiful turquoise water and soft sand, it presented amazing scenery during the day and mesmerizing sunsets at dusk. Unfortunately, Ha’atafu beach was destroyed by the Tsunami leaving the beach resort with ash contaminated sand, and collapsing structures. The people are persistent rebuilders which means the resort will probably be back to this same spot in little time.

4 Tonga Was Known For Its Trilithon

Located on the island of Tongatapu, Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon is a stone trilithon built in the 13th century by a king named Tu'i Tatui. It is also known as Stonehenge of the Pacific and is characterized by two giant stones standing side by side with a lintel on top. The weight of the stones is perhaps the attraction’s most exceptional feature as they each weigh approximately 30 to 40 tons. In the island’s local language, Ha’amonga ‘a Maui translates to “The burden of Maui” and just like many megalithic monuments, an interesting legend is associated with this Stonehenge. According to the legend, the structure was built by the god Maui who brought the giant stones from ‘Uvea to Tonga with his giant canoe. This belief can also be because no mortal would be able to handle the weight of such stones. This attraction still stands strong in Tonga even after the recent tsunami just like it has done for hundreds of years.

3 Amazing Markets

The markets in Tonga are great places to explore the island’s locally grown vegetables, fruits, and hand-made crafts as well as clothing. In Tonga, Saturdays are the best days to enjoy a more vibrant atmosphere as well as more goods to browse from. Talamahu market located in Nuku’alofa - the capital of Tonga was the most popular in the country and since its host island was severely hit by the tsunami, its current state is not known.

Related: The Best Tips For Navigating Your Local Farmer's Market

2 Great Destination For Sailing

Sailing was a great way to see Tonga from the beautiful South Pacific Ocean before the eruption and still is. The best place for sailing in Tonga was Vava’u as lots of yacht charters were available on the Island to offer this experience to visitors. The amazing scenery of the island, the blue color of the ocean, and the sights of humpback whales were some of the things visitors would enjoy on this adventure. Sailing will remain a great thing to do since the island is still surrounded by water.

1 Anahulu Cave

Anahulu Cave is a popular geological feature located in Haveluliku, Tonga. The limestone cave features a freshwater pool which offers an amazing stage for scuba diving and exploring what lies below the surface. Being a geological feature, the attraction has stood the test of time and survived several tsunamis in the past which means visitors still have hope for future exploration of the cave.