What to see & do
The largest island in Tonga is Tongatapu, home to more than two-thirds of the country’s population. It is also where the capital, Nuku’alofa, is located. This island is surrounded by coral reefs and nice beaches suitable for snorkelling. Tongatapu also boasts of ancient tombs and coastal blowholes that tourists can visit. Nuku’alofa is good place for backpacking, as it offers quality accommodation and guest houses. To the north of Tongatapu are resorts. Southeast of Tongatapu is the unspoilt island of ‘Eua, the highest island in Tonga. The island is characterised by beaches on the west coast and dramatic cliffs on the east coast, as well as the largest tropical rainforest in Tonga, which offers great trekking opportunities. 150 miles north of Tongatapu is Vava’u, a group of approximately 50 islands that are either raised coral limestone or coral atolls. Its main town is Neiafu, and opposite it is a beautiful harbour that is often visited by yachties sailing the South Pacific. The area is also a nice place to see humpback whales from June to November, where organised tours can also be arranged. Activities to be enjoyed in Vava’u include diving, renting a yacht, kayaking, game fishing, and kite surfing. South of Vava’u is a group of about 60 islands, collectively called Ha’apai. This group has several beaches and good diving, snorkelling, and whale watching opportunities. Weekly flights from Vava’u can take travellers to the Niuas where beautiful white beaches can be found, especially on the northwest side.
How to get around within Tonga
Flying or sailing is the way to get between the island groups. Real Tonga Airlines provide flights between the major islands, from Tongatapu to ‘Eua, Ha’apai, and Vava’u, as well as from Vava’u to Niuafo’ou and Niuatoputapu. Within the islands, particularly on Tongatapu, Vava’u, and Ha’apai, motorbikes, scooters, and bicycles can be rented. Tongatapu also has car rentals and taxis. Teta Tours and Toni’s guest house on Tongatapu also offer day tours of all the main tourist destinations on the island.
How to get there
The main airport of Tonga is Fua’amotu International Airport on the south side of the main island Tongatapu, 35 kilometres from Nuku’alofa. International airlines that serve the airport include Air New Zealand, Fiji Airways, Fiji Airways operated by Fiji Link, and Virgin Australia, with flights from Auckland, Nadi, Suva, and Sydney. Charter flights from Apia are also available at Fua’amotu International Airport, operated by Polynesian Airlines. Tonga can also be reached by private boat, where Vava’u is a common stop on the around-the-world circuit.