These islands were first discovered by Captain Tasman, in January, 1642-3, and by him called Amsterdam and Middleburg. But the former is called by the natives Ton-ga-ta-bu, and the latter Ea-oo-wee. They are situated between the latitude of 21 deg. 29’ and 21 deg. 3’ south, and between the longitude of 174 deg. 40’ and 175 deg. 15’ west, deduced from observations made on the spot.
Middleburg, or Eaoowee, which is the southernmost, is about ten leagues in circuit, and of a height sufficient to be seen twelve leagues. The skirts of this isle are mostly taken up in the plantations; the S.W. and N.W. sides especially. The interior parts are but little cultivated, though very fit for cultivation. However, the want of it added greatly to the beauty of the isle; for here are, agreeably dispersed, groves of cocoa-nut and other trees, lawns covered with thick grass, here and there plantations, and paths leading to every part of the island, in such beautiful disorder, as greatly enlivens the prospect.
The anchorage, which I named English Road, being the first who anchored there, is on the N.W. side, in latitude 21 deg. 20’ 30” south. The bank is a coarse sand; it extends two miles from the land, and on it there is from twenty to forty fathoms water. The small creek before it affords convenient landing for boats at all times of the tide; which here, as well as at the other islands, rises about four or five feet, and is high water on the full and change days about seven o’clock. The island of Tongatabu is shaped something like an isosceles triangle, the longest sides whereof are seven leagues each, and the shortest four. It lies nearly in the direction of E.S.E. and W.N.W.; is nearly all of an equal height, rather low, not exceeding sixty or eighty feet above the level of the sea. This island, and also that of Eaoowee, is guarded from the sea by a reef of coral rocks, extending out from the shore one hundred fathoms more or less. On this reef the force of the sea is spent before it reaches the land or shore. Indeed, this is in some measure the situation of all the tropical isles in this sea that I have seen; and thus nature has effectually secured them from the encroachments of the sea, though many of them are mere points when compared to this vast ocean. Van Diemen’s Road, where we anchored, is under the northwest part of the island, between the most northern and western points. There lies a reef of rocks without it, bearing N.W. by W., over which the sea breaks continually. The bank does not extend more than three cables length from the shore; without that, is an unfathomable depth. The loss of an anchor, and the damage our cables sustained, are sufficient proofs that the bottom is none of the best.