Cruises to Niuafo Ou
Niuafo'ou is one of the most isolated specks in the Pacific. It is the Kingdom of Tonga’s most northerly island, located 600 kilometres north of the main island of Tongatapu.
Also known as Tin Can Island, it was the mail, or at least the unusual way in which it was delivered that gave Niuafo'ou this nickname. The island does not have a safe harbour for anchorage for large ships, and this is a particular problem during the cyclone season. The island’s earliest European settler, a plantation manager called William Travers, made arrangements with postal authorities and a shipping company to drop his mail in a sealed biscuit tin to a strong swimmer who would collect it for him. The swimmer would also convey mail from the island, with letters and packages securely waterproofed in grease-proof paper. This novel method of transferring mail caught on and became a regular and necessary part of life on Niuafo'ou until the second half of the 20th century. The method of ferrying the mail was changed in the 1930’s to an outrigger canoe after a shark claimed the life of a swimmer. The construction of an airstrip and the introduction of more reliable radio communications saw the end of Tin Can Mail in the 1980’s.
At A Glance