Lighthouses of Tonga

Tonga is a Polynesian kingdom located in the central part of the tropical South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Fiji. It is the only Polynesian monarchy that survived the colonial period intact, although the kings of Tonga did accept a British protectorate from 1900 to 1970. The islands of the country stretch in a north to south line about 800 km (500 mi) long and are separated into three groups: the Vava'u Group in the north, the Ha'apai Group in the center, and the Tongatapu Group in the south. Tongatapu is the largest island and the location of the capital, Nuku'alofa. The inhabited islands are generally low coral limestone or sandy islands, but in the west of the country there are several high volcanic islands.

No traditional masonry-style lighthouses were ever built in Tonga. The country's navigational aids are generally mounted on skeletal towers like the one at right. The Directory lists only the taller towers.

The Ports Authority Tonga is responsible for navigational aids at Tongatapu, and probably throughout the islands.

None of the lights of Tonga are listed by ARLHS. Admiralty numbers are from volume K of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 111.

General Sources
World of Lighthouses - Tonga
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Tonga Physical Map
A useful map posted by Ezilon.com.

Muifuiva Light
Muifuiva Light, Ha'apai Group, November 2010
Panoramio photo copyright Frank Taylor; permission requested

Vava'u Group (North Tonga) Lighthouse
Foeata (Foiata)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 59.5 m (195 ft); three quick white flashes every 10 s. 9 m (30 ft) skeletal tower. No photo available, and the light is not seen in Google's satellite view. This light marks the southwestern extremity of the Vava'u Group. Located atop the island of Foeata. Site status unknown. Admiralty K4624; NGA 3180.

Ha'apai Group (Central Tonga) Lighthouses
Muitoa Point (Ha'ano)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 9 m (30 ft) skeletal tower. No photo available; the shadow of the light is possibly visible in Google's satellite view. This light marks the northern extremity of the Ha'apai Group. Located on the northern tip of the island of Ha'ano. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K4628; NGA 3182.
Makuata Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); white flash every 10 s. 9 m (30 ft) skeletal tower. No photo available; the light is not seen clearly in Google's satellite view. This light marks the northern extremity of the Ha'apai Group. Located on a tiny island about 25 km (15 mi) west of Pangai, the principal town of the Ha'apai Group. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K4636; NGA 3194.2.
Kito Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); three quick white flashes every 10 s. 9 m (30 ft) skeletal tower. No photo available, but Bing has an indistinct satellite view. Located on a tiny island about 40 km (25 mi) southeast of the high island of Tofua and 65 km (40 mi) southwest of Pangai. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K4638.5; NGA 3198.5.
Nukulai Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 24.5 m (80 ft); white, red or green light, depending on direction, 4 s on, 3 s off. 9 m (30 ft) skeletal tower. No photo available, and the light is not seen in Bing's satellite view. This sector light guides vessels approaching a reef system southwest of Pangai. Located on a tiny island about 50 km (30 mi) southwest of Pangai. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K4639; NGA 3200.
Tokulu Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); white flash every 3 s. 9 m (30 ft) skeletal tower. No photo available, but there is a photo taken from atop the tower (halfway down the page), and Bing has an indistinct satellite view. Located on a tiny island about 40 km (25 mi) southeast of the high island of Tofua and 65 km (40 mi) southwest of Pangai. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K4638.5; NGA 3198.5.
Muifuiva (Numuka Iki)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); two white flashes every 5 s. 9 m (30 ft) square skeletal tower. Frank Taylor's photo is at the top of this page, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on a tiny island about 2.5 km (1.5 mi) southwest of the village of Numuka Iki, in the southern part of the group. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K4640; NGA 3208.

Tongatapu Lighthouses
Malinoa Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 9 m (30 ft) square skeletal tower. The north face of the tower is covered by a daymark painted white with a red horizontal band. Ken Hellewell's view from the sea is at right, and in a distant view, the light tower is behind a tree at the right end of the island. However, the light is not seen in Google's satellite view. Located on Malinoa, a tiny island about 15 km (9 mi) northeast of Nuku'alofa. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K4644.51; NGA 3216.
Tongatapu Narrows Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); white light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 11 m (36 ft) square skeletal tower. Bing has a satellite view. This range guides vessels through a narrow passage between coral reefs north of Nuku'alofa harbor. Located about 8 km (5 mi) northeast of Nuku'alofa. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K4651.51; NGA 3235.5.
Malinoa Range Rear Light
Malinoa Range Rear Light, Tongatapu
photo copyright Ken Hellewell; used by permission

Minerva Reefs Lightbeacons
[North Minerva Reef (4?)]
2011. Active; focal plane 7 m (23 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 7 m (23 ft) square skeletal mast. The Minerva Reefs are two small, nearly awash atolls 435 km (270 mi) southwest of Tongatapu. Ownership of these atolls is disputed between Tonga and Fiji. A light tower is said to have been built on the south reef by Americans during World War II; nothing is known of this tower. In 2007 Tonga placed lights on steel masts on the north and south reefs; Jean and Scott Adam, sailing the sloop Quest, have a photo (halfway down the page) of this tower. Not long after the Adams visit, Fijian naval forces arrived and destroyed the lights. Tonga replaced the light on the north reef, only to have it destroyed again in 2011. Bruce Balan has happened on these events and has an account with photos of the old and new lights. The light was replaced again, and apparently it still stands. Located on North Minerva Reef. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K4658.
[South Minerva Reef (2?)]
2012. Active; focal plane 7 m (23 ft); white flash every 5 s. 7 m (23 ft) square skeletal mast. A 2008 photo of the original light is available. Located on South Minerva Reef. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K4659.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Samoa | East: Niue | West: Fiji

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Posted April 21, 2014. Lighthouses: 9. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.