The Tonga Travel Specialists

coral islands in a beautiful tongan lagoon

Proud, independent and religious, the Kingdom of Tonga has never been colonised by a European power. A unique island culture and one of the last few remaining absolute monarchies anywhere in the world, Tonga's friendly people are unlike any other. There are many sights and activities related to Tongan culture, including sacred tombs, dancing displays and craft workshops. As you'd expect from an island paradise, the sea and beaches are star attractions and although there are only a handful of hotels in Tonga aimed at the beach holiday market, these small island resorts represent some of the best value in the South Pacific for a honeymoon or romantic holiday. Humpback whales migrate here every year between June and October, and you can take a trip to watch and it's one of only three places in the world where you can get in the water close by to marvel at their size and listen to their enchanting singing. You can also enjoy surfing and snorkelling in the clear blue ocean; whatever you do, relax into the Tongan pace of life.

Explore the Tongan Islands :

yahts in vavau harbour
Holidays in Vavau

Whale-watching, snorkelling and sailing

Tonga Holidays Planner

Despite being one of the better known Pacific island nations, the Kingdom of Tonga receives less than 30,000 holiday-makers per year (compared to 650,000 in Fiji). This might seem a positive for travellers: empty beaches and few sightseers to jostle with. But there's also a reason for this: Tonga's travel infrastructure is poor making it difficult to get around, there are very few decent accommodation choices, service is lacking and Sunday is renowned as a strict day of rest when nothing is open except church.

Come to Tonga to enjoy a very slow pace of life, uninhabited coral islands (if you can get to them: there are no day cruises so you'd have to hire a boat and captain), and spectacular whale watching. The deep protected bays is where the Southern humpback whales come to give birth and mate so they linger here for several months at a time. In fact, whale-watching is what most people visit Tonga for, but there's a hitch: make sure you arrive sometime between May and September otherwise you'll miss them.

Tonga Travel Guide

Tonga is divided into four main groups. The largest island is Tongatapu in the south, where the capital Nuku'alofa is located as well as location of the international airport at Fua'amotu and within its lagoon are many fabulous uninhabited islands. Beach lovers will enjoy the remoteness of the Haapai group which has many uninhabited islands – if you don't have access to your own boat, you can hire one to explore. Vavau is the main tourism centre of Tonga with a good selection of holiday resorts. The Vava'u Island Group is a popular location to anchor a yacht, and apart from being the best place to see humpback whales it is a great spot for snorkelling and scuba diving. Finally, the sparsely populated Niuas are difficult to reach, and consequently the best place to observe traditional island life.

Tongatapu - The Main Island

The flat island of Tongatapu is the main population centre with lots of large villages and the small town of Nuku'alofa, the nations capital. Nukualofa doesn’t have much of interest: a small market, the royal palace but otherwise uninspiring architecture - much of the capital was burnt down during the riots of 2006. The island has some decent beaches but much of the coastline is rugged limestone cliffs with blow-holes, caves and eroded arches. By far the the most beautiful aspect of Tongatapu is its lagoon, scattered with many small uninhabited coral cays, ideal to kayak and fish, snorkel around sand bars, or simply relax at one of the small beach resorts. The "Kingdom" was once the powerhouse of Polynesia and ruled over Samoa and much of Fiji. There are several archaeological sites worth visiting around Tongatapu including royal tombs and ancient monoliths. Adventurous types should try trekking around the magical island of 'Eua, just offshore from Tongatapu, to explore both the coastline and the rainforests.

Ha'apai Group - The Coral Islands

Beach-lovers will enjoy the simple life on the Haapai Islands which is also a great place to interact with the locals, learn about village culture and buy locally produced handicrafts. The drawback: there's only a couple of places to stay and flights are unreliable.

Vavau Islands - The Tourist Centre

The Vavau Islands is Tonga's tourist hub being a haven for humpback whales who spend up to five months in the shallow waters and protected bays resting, mating and giving birth. Tonga is one of the few countries in the world where you can get in the water up close to a whale and the industry is carefully monitored. Vavau is also a great spot for kayaking, sailing, game fishing and snorkelling and is well known for being the adventure centre of the Kingdom.

Kingdom of Tonga Travel Info
There are several weekly flights from Auckland, LA and Sydney and Nadi arriving at the international airport on Tongatapu. Fiji Airways also has a weekly flight between Nadi and Vavau. Domestic air travel has been plagued by financial and organisation mis-management and is not reliable. There are inter-island ferries connecting Nukualofa, the capital and Haapai and Vavau, but again, this faced disaster too in 2007 when a passenger ferry sank with 74 people losing their lives.