House of Travel logo
Tonga

Tonga

The Pacific’s last kingdom is a paradise for seekers of pure peace. Its beautiful islands, divided into four groups, are scattered like pearls across 700,000 square kilometres of ocean. There is no shortage of deserted beaches and pristine anchorages here, and the swimming, snorkelling and diving are exceptional.

The main island, Tongatapu, is home to the capital, Nuku’alofa, and to most of the kingdom’s resorts. Many of these are family-owned and personal, because Tonga likes to welcome its visitors in low-key style – this is a place for simpler living and genuine encounters with the local people. Tongans know that what they can offer visitors doesn’t need dressing up. It’s already perfect!

If possible, do try to see more during your stay – head out to the scenic archipelagos of Vava’u and Ha’apai. Tonga’s tropical waters are renowned for their abundant marine life, including large schools of humpback whales which breed around Vava’u in winter. If you want to see these magnificent creatures, be sure to book your visit for some time between July and October. It’s even possible to swim with them: a truly unforgettable experience. Vava’u is also a sailor’s dream destination, with beautiful natural harbours and sheltered coves. The best known of these is the deep-water Port of Refuge, where you’ll find Tonga’s most picturesque town, tiny Neiafu. And of course, the opportunities for relaxation – right throughout Vava’u – are endless. Even more remote and completely unspoiled is the Ha’apai group, with its coral atolls, glistening lagoons, pure white beaches and just a handful of inhabited islands. The way of life here really is timeless, and while it can’t offer any luxury resorts, Ha’apai is ideal for adventure and brilliant for kayaking – paddle up to a near-deserted shore, stay at beachside fale and tuck into a traditional feast with the friendly islanders!

 
(Image: ©Tonga Tourism)


OUR FAVOURITE PLACES TO EXPLORE IN TONGA


 



Tongatapu
Tongatapu

Nuku’alofa, Tonga’s capital, will be almost certainly your first taste of the kingdom. With about a third of all Tonga’s population living here, Nuku’alofa can be a surprisingly bustling place but its size also means there’s a great array of restaurants, nightclubs and dynamic cultural shows. There’s plenty to see too, such as the Talamahu Markets with its mounds of fresh produce and selection of handcrafts, including wood carving and jewellery. Although the Royal Palace is not open to visitors, you can admire this white-timber 19th century building from the waterfront. Try to time your visit to town to include a Sunday. Tongans are ardent churchgoers and their singing is legendary. Everyone’s welcome but make sure to pack your Sunday best. (Image: ©Tonga Tourism)

Haapai
Ha’apai

Ha’apai, on the other hand, has no towns at all. It’s a faraway world of atolls, lagoons and white sand – an untouched slice of pure Polynesia, where most islands are tiny and uninhabited. The main centre is the friendly village of Pangai on Lifuka, with a lone bank and a few small stores. Ha’apai is way off the beaten track, and if you’re looking for somewhere untouched by time, you’ll love it here. Sea-kayaking, either for short island-to-island hops, or multi-day adventures, is an ideal way to explore these islands. Whale watching, swimming with whales and kite-surfing are on offer and there’s history too: it was in these islands that the Bounty Mutiny took place. Life is simple in Ha’apai so accommodation for visitors is also no-frills. But there’s nowhere better for that back-to-nature island experience and for a genuine introduction to traditional Tongan culture.

Vavau
Vava’u

If you’re in search of empty white sands and brilliant blue waters, Vava’u is your perfect choice. This tropical archipelago has one large island and a host of smaller ones, all with shimmering lagoons, hidden coves and superb diving sites. Neiafu, the main centre, lies on the shores of the Port of Refuge, a magnificent deep-water harbour. It’s the prettiest town in Tonga, and has a Saturday market, plus shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. There is spectacular diving and snorkelling among coral gardens, shipwrecks and in mysterious sea caves. With a reputation as one of the best game-fishing locations in the Pacific, Vava’u has boats available for exhilarating searches for marlin and tuna. While Vava’u is a magnet for lovers of the outdoors, there is no need to rough it as accommodation ranges from camp sites to comfortable resorts. (Image: ©James Blackwood)

 
 




OUR FAVOURITE WAYS TO EXPERIENCE TONGA


Sea Kayak Tonga

See Kayak Tonga

The lush tropical islands of Vava’u and Ha’apai are home to Friendly Islands Kayak Company. Whilst the islands are separated by reefs or open water, they are not great paddling distances apart so there’s plenty of time to kayak the warm waters, snorkel amidst colourful coral and inside legendary marine caves, and observe the traditional way of life of the Tongan people. Your most difficult choice will be deciding on which kayak tour to do. Vava’u’s hilly terrain is perhaps more interesting and scenic and it’s relatively sheltered waters are conducive to more reliable whale sightings between July and October. However if it’s white sand beaches you’re after, there’s no shortage of these in Ha’apai. Snorkelling’s superb in both island groups, but soft corals and sizeable fish are more abundant in Ha’apai waters. There are a range of itinerary’s available including 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 days for Vava’u or 7 and 11 days for Ha’apai with various departure dates throughout the year, so you’re sure to find something to suit.

ENQUIRE NOW TO FIND YOUR EXPERIENCE HOLIDAY >







SOME THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN TONGA




Sailing in Vavau SAILING IN VAVA’U

Tonga’s protected coral reefs, atolls and safe anchorages make it one of the best locations for sailing and Neiafu Harbour on Vava’u is one of the Pacific’s key sailing hubs. The Moorings and Sunsail are part of the largest skippered charter boat operations in the world. They operate 20 yachts, all modern, fully equipped and spacious with well trained staff onboard to ensure a fantastic sailing holiday.

 

Swim with Humpback Whales SWIM WITH HUMPBACK WHALES

From July to October Humpback Whales travel up from Antarctica to Tonga to enjoy the warmer waters. There’s an array of interesting behaviour to be seen from the boat from graceful spyhops, powerful tail slaps and full body breaching or curious approaches to the boat. This can be a life changing experience, one that few people will ever get the chance to enjoy. Thrill-seekers can get into the water, up close and personal with these beautiful creatures.

Shipwreck PANGAIMOTU ISLAND DAY TRIP

Take a day cruise out to Pangaimotu Island to enjoy a day of snorkelling, soaking up the sun and diving off a ship wreck – the islands main attraction where the brave can jump from the hull of the ship. The island is just a 10 minute boat ride from Tongatapu so you’ll be off the boat and in the water in record time. A tasty lunch at Big Mama’s Yacht Club is included.

Nukualofa City Tour NUKU’ALOFA CITY TOUR
 

This fun walking tour is a great way to familiarise yourself with the kingdom’s capital, Nuku’alofa. See the Royal Palace and Royal Tomb as well as the Talamahu Market, the kingdom’s main fresh produce hub. It’s a hive of activity here, especially on Saturday mornings. Visit the Langafonua Handicrafts Centre which has the best range of traditional Tongan handicrafts and fine arts including tapa cloth, jewellery and wooden carvings.

Scuba Diving in Haapai SCUBA DIVING IN HA’APAI
 

Board your dive boat and head out to one of the dozens of nearby reef systems which offer some of the South Pacific’s most unspoiled and rarely visited dive experiences. Regular sightings of sharks, tuna and manta rays are common as you meander through the soft coral gardens. A full range of dive courses are on offer from one day dive experiences for the non-qualified diver right up to the full open water courses.






TONGA ACCOMMODATION



Here's a taste of some of our favourite resort options in Tonga.
Come in-store or send us an enquiry to help us find the best accommodation for you.

Fafa Island Resort
FAFA ISLAND RESORT
★★★half star

Fafa is tiny and unspoilt, with just a handful of fales on its palm-fringed shores – they are just gorgeous! Privacy and peace are paramount here, with fales built as far from one another as possible. They are stylishly furnished, and in true Tongan style have high, cathedral ceilings, thatched walls, big coconut beams and poles and wooden shingle roofs. Each has its own outdoor space, with hammock, beach beds, shady palms, and a bathroom opening out to a secluded flower garden and outdoor shower.  
Tanoa International Dateline Hotel
TANOA INTERNATIONAL DATELINE HOTEL
★★★★
Located right on the waterfront, the Tanoa International Dateline offers superior accommodation, great facilities, complimentary WiFi and a range of dining options. It is a handy hub from which to base yourself as it’s only a two minute walk to town, close to local shops, markets, cafés, bars, restaurants and main sights to see. Step out of the hotel and discover an array of activities on your doorstep including snorkelling, kayaking, diving, hiking, bird watching and whale watching in season.
Sandy Beach Resort
SANDY BEACH RESORT, HA’APAI
★★★half star

Sandy Beach Resort is situated along one of the most beautiful beaches in the South Pacific. In the small island group of Ha’apai, this secluded resort is quiet, relaxing and far from the hustle and bustle from everyday life. Offering a wide range of actives such as scuba diving, snorkelling, kiteboarding, kayaking, horse riding, paddle boarding and whale watching (seasonal), Sandy Beach Resort is the gem of Ha’apai - the best kept secret in Tonga.
Tongan Beach Resort
TONGAN BEACH RESORT, VAVA’U
★★★half star

If you are lucky, you’ll wake in time for an incredible sunrise at this intimate, laid-back resort. With 12 modern beachfront guest rooms, you’ll never feel overcrowded. Six are larger rooms and suited to families. Snorkel, kayak, sport fish, sail, scuba dive and whale watch (in season). Enjoy a tropical cocktail in the Sandpit Bar, dine in the traditional Fale Restaurant, or overwater in the Tiki House. Experience the real Tonga: peaceful and perfect.





NEED TO KNOW



 
Tonga

COUNTRY NAME


Kingdom of Tonga

Capital

CAPITAL


Nuku’alofa

Clock

TIME DIFFERENCE


Current time in Tonga
Same as New Zealand

Currency

CURRENCY


Tongan Pa’anga (TOP)

Electricity

ELECTRICITY


Current is 240V, 50HZ. Plug is a 3 point rectangle-pin adaptor

Language

LANGUAGE


English and Tongan

Banking

BANKING


ANZ has ATMs in Nuku’alofa and Vava’u.

Meidcal

MEDICAL


Hospitals are located in Nuku’alofa, Neiafu and Pangai.

Visa Information

VISAS


If you’re travelling on a NZ Passport, a Visa is not required but you are required to have proof of return or onward ticket.

Flight times

FLIGHT TIMES


2 hours and 50 minutes from Auckland to Nuku’alofa, 5 hours and 20 minutes from Wellington to Nuku’alofaand 5 hours and 30 minutes from Christchurch to Nuku’alofa.

Air hostess

AIRLINES


Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia







Our Tonga Holiday Packages & Deals
TONGA ON SALE




Our best Tonga packages right now, created by our travel experts to offer you incredible holidays at serious value. Find even more deals on accommodation, flights, touring and sightseeing on our Rest of Pacific Islands On Sale section.
 

 


INSPIRE ME
Tonga holiday planning articles



Are you planning your next trip to Tonga? Want to learn more about this destination? Or looking for ideas and inspiration for your next holiday? Here is where you can find our featured articles on Tonga.

 






WE'RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU ALONG THE WAY




This is just a taste of the information and advice we have available through our House of Travel consultants.
Enquire below or pop in-store and talk to one of our travel experts today.

The best holidays are created together.