Tofua Island

Tofua Island is an island in Tonga. Its size is 19 768 acres (80 km2), and its maximum length/width is around 9,75kmX8,45km. The height of the island is 520 meters. It is a volcanic island with step sided crater-hill with a big lake in the middle of the island. Tofua is connected to the nearby island of Kao by a submarine ridge. The island is oval in shape, and its sides rise steeply to the rim of the caldera, which is partially filled by a volcanic crater lake.

there is occasionally fire and smoke from this crater

Its lake measures are around 3,9kmX3,1km, and is down to 500 meters deep. Often small fires and smoke can be seen from one of its smaller craters on the northern side. Tofua Island is heavily wooded and has dense vegetation in almost all parts of the island except in the northern parts where is somewhat less vegetation, especially in the northern part of the caldera and its slopes. Vegetation varies from various bushes to palms and trees.

lake inside the crater

There are also many coconut trees and some the fruits, such as banana trees. There is also a small plantation with various plants in the northern part of the island. Tofua Island was designated a national park in 2001 and has been designated an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International, as there are a lot and various types of Pacific birds. The island has the largest area of undisturbed Tongan tropical moist forests in Tonga.

palm trees, hut and rocky shore

Seems that there is no classical sandy beach on Tofua Island, as it has mostly rocks, pebbles, and cliffs at the edges of the island. In some areas of the island, there are high waves during stronger storms. There is not much infrastructure on the island besides a few houses and old ones. In past, Tofua island was inhabited. This island is really beautiful and unique with its shape, caldera, lake, and jungles.

hut for adventurers

Tofua Island is a part of historical events as well. According to Pacific Science (1970), the Geology of Tofusa Island (Glenn R. Bauer) there are mentioned some events.

In 1643 Abel Tasman became the first European explorer to sight Tofua Island. He made note of sailing near two high islands ( Tofua and Kao ) and seemed surprised at their height, for he had just left the low limestone islands that lie east of Tofua.

The volcanic nature of Tofua was first noted by Capt. James Cook in 1774 when he wrote of Tofua Island in his journal. Cook sailed a mile north of the island and noted that it was in eruption. His crew reported that raindrops from a localized rainstorm, caused by the eruption cloud, created a burning sensation in their eyes.

The famous mutiny ,,Mutiny on the Bounty” took place on 28 April 1789, about 56 km from Tofua. The first island they tried to land on was Tofua actually. One crewman was stoned to death by the natives of Tofua. Bligh and eighteen loyalists found refuge in a cave to increase their meager supplies.

island’s jungle

During WWII, on 30 April 1943, a Japanese submarine sank one USA boat near Tofua Island, a lifeboat containing 23 survivors. They survived by eating coconuts and shellfish there on the island and were found during May.

Swiss adventurer Xavier Rosset spent 10 months on Tofua Island, making a very educative TV doccumentary ,,300 Days Alone”. Many interesting things can be seen there, and I just made separated blogpost about this providing links both to Youtube documentary and their website. It is here

beuatiful nature on the island. These hills provide panoramic views

There is research ,,The Geology of Tofua Island, Tonga” by G LENN R. BAUER

here, we will provide small quote from it:

The largest structu ral features on Tofu a are
faults associated with the caldera collapse. These
can be grouped into three main classes: (1) the
main faults bounding the sunken block of the
caldera, (2 ) faults parallel to the main caldera-
boundary faults along which volcanic eruptions
have taken pl ace, ( 3) faults along the rim
of the caldera along which eruptions have not
taken place.
Th e maximum displacement of the caldera-
bound ary faults is more than the 1,500-foot
height of the caldera wall, since the base of
the wall is buried by later volcanics.

Even though part of the caldera-boundary fault zone
is buried, its trace is visible as recent scarplets
in the volcanics of the Lofia Formation.
Although the caldera-boundary fault is shown
in Figure 2A as a single continuous fault, in
actuality it appears to be a zone of many closely
spaced fractures . Along the southern lakeshore
the caldera-boundary fault zone consists of two
major faults, between which is a large down-
dropped portion of the rim that has the form
of a giant step, with its surface sloping west-
ward approximately 9°. Cinder cones along the
fault that forms the east side of the step
have erupted the unconsolidated tephra of the
Kolo Formation.

the seaplane can easily land there in the lake


Recently I had the honor to talk with a professional pilot, Peter Goldstern, who visited Tofua back in the 90s with a seaplane. He landed a seaplane in the crater lake and took a swim. We can see some of those pictures here actually. He showed me his memoirs where he wrote about his visit to Tofua, and I will share that part here as good someone’s personal experience information and contribution to the post. Here is a quote:

After unloading my passenger I successfully took off and landed on
the shallow lagoon in the center of the island. Then I had no
trouble getting off, with the two of us on board, and we
headed to a volcanic lake inside the 1500 ft. deep crater on
the island of Tofua.

Tofua’s volcano (up) and swim in the lake (down)

This thrilling experience was celebrated by a swim in the
sweet waters of the lake followed by a take-off and circling
climb out of the crater.

Now you will get a link from our gallery with over 145 pictures! A large gallery, make sure to check it, just be patient a little until lots of these pictures load.

HERE IS OUR TOFUA ISLAND GALLERY (145+ PICTURES)! Click on the picture, wait for a little until they load in the gallery, and scroll them. (additionally, you can press F11 to enlarge the gallery even further)