Set adrift

The island reveals itself, albeit slowly. From the top deck I spot it, just a thin line on the flat Pacific, like a single stroke of a pencil, a barely visible line drawn on a page that’s both blue and unimaginably enormous. But as we approach, there’s more. First, the smells, a unique mix of wood smoke and flowers.

Then sounds, horns and engines, a busy town going about its business, everyone a little too busy to notice the massive ship that’s headed their way. And then, just as the island’s flanks begin to wrap themselves around us, I can actually feel it, the rhythms of a kingdom built on coral, a fascinating and beautiful place set in a very far-flung corner of the world.

I’m approaching the island of Tonga, a South Pacific paradise – and just one of the very few ports of call on my voyage across this vast ocean, one that covers more than one-third of the Earth’s surface… [read more]