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Tonga Travel Guide

In Travel by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

With authentic island culture, untouched beaches, and everything in between Tonga has something for everyone.  

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History and Culture | Currency

Where is Tonga?

Tonga is located across an approximately 800 kilometre stretch of the South Pacific. Fiji and Wallis and Futuna are to the northwest, Samoa can be found to the northeast, Niue is in the east, Kermadec is southwest, while New Caledonia and Vanuatu lie to the west of Tonga.

When is the best time to visit Tonga?

June to October is the best time to visit Tonga with great weather and ample restaurants and services for tourists to enjoy. April to August is a little cooler while November to March is a bit warmer but still great if you want to enjoy the ocean.

oceania map tonga australia south pacific ocean

Getting around Tonga

You have the option to rent a car, although you may have to pay T$40 to get a local license. Traffic can be very slow in parts of Tonga so although private buses are available they are also not the quickest. Getting between islands can be done by boat or, more conveniently, by plane.

Language in Tonga

Tongan and English are the official languages in Tonga. For the most part you should be able to get by fine with just English.

Discover Tonga

Ha’apai | Tongatapu (Nuku’alofa) | Vava’u

Tongatapu

tongatapu tonga island water land capital nuku'alofa

The name of both the main island and the group in which it resides, Tongatapu is the first destination for any would be visitor to Tonga. Home to the vast majority of the population, Tongatapu is where you can put your finger on the pulse of Tongan culture.

There are small villages, a few resorts, idyllic beaches, caves, hidden coves, archaeological sites, and more. If you want to see what the surrounding islands in the eponymous group are hiding, you can take easy day trips at a moment’s notice. There’s more than enough on Tongatapu to eat up your whole vacation, especially when you consider…

Nuku’alofa

nuku'alofa tonga cathedral religion christianity

…the capital and largest city! Nuku’alofa may not have the immediate draw of some of the prettiest tropical cities, but there is no better place to see what a day in the life of a Tongan is like than here. There are bustling markets, some great food and drink options, and stunning sea views (as should be expected). Even if you don’t plan on spending much time here, Nuku’alofa serves as a good home base while you set out to explore the outlying sights.

Vava’u

vava'u island water coast trees cloudy

As another one of the three main island groups (as well as the main island of the same name), Vava’u will be the highlight of your trip. There are 61 islands in Vava’u, with sheltered reefs, clear blue waters, and more activities available than you could hope to partake in. Diving, surfing, kayaking, and sailing – anything you want to do to unleash your inner sea captain can be done in Vava’u. Yachters love this area above all else, so if that’s something you have in your wheelhouse look no further.

Ha’apai

ha'apai beach boat sandy cloudy tonga

The third and final island group in Tonga can be found in the middle of the kingdom. Known as Ha’apai, these 62 islands are among the most untouched and sparsely populated parts of the country. Large volcanoes and mountains give way to hidden beaches, and palm trees. Whale watching is a popular activity but beyond the pristine setting and ideal climate, there isn’t a whole lot here. To us though, spending the day on a deserted beach away from the resorts and crowds sounds like a vacation to remember nonetheless.

Flights to Tonga

Unfortunately round trip flights between Toronto and Nuku’alofa can be pretty pricey, often costing around $2200 Canadian. Shop around and see if you can get any tourist deals, but know that it might cost quite a bit to get to your destination.

Prices in Tonga ($$)*

Prices in Tonga vary but for the most part you can get by pretty cheaply. An inexpensive meal could be as low as $3 Canadian while a one-way ticket for local transportation will be less than $1. Overall, you should be able to save on essentials compared to Canada, the US, or Western Europe.

*Cost rating on a scale of ‘$ to $$$$’, or ‘cheapest to most expensive’

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Is Tonga safe?

Before we get into safety, we have to touch on the current health issue with regards to the Zika virus. Spread by mosquitos, the sickness is usually mild and short term, resulting in fever, headaches, rashes, muscle pain, and other flu-like symptoms. That being said, pregnant women (and women considering becoming pregnant) should avoid the country for the time being. Be sure to talk to a healthcare professional before deciding to travel to Tonga.

Besides that, Tonga is a safe country with normal security precautions recommended throughout. Petty crime is an issue in parts, especially after dark. Assaults have also been known to occur. Finally road safety varies, with many roads unpaved and poorly lit. Overall though, as long as you’re careful, you shouldn’t have any issues.

For more on travel safety, check out the Canadian Travel Advisory for Tonga.

GET THE REST OF OUR TRAVEL GUIDES (AND MUCH MORE) WITH CONTINENTAL’S COUNTRIES!

You can learn more about Tongan history and culture in the Country Profile as well as its currency with our Spotlight.

Check out the official Tongan tourist gateway.

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