Planning your Holiday to Tonga



This article was researched by our local South Pacific travel experts:
What to Do on Holiday in Tonga  —  Five Great Ideas  —   Get Active, Land & Water Activities  —   Tonga Tourist Information

A lot of tropical island nations like to say they occupy "Land where time has stood still" but in Tonga it is as close to the truth as you can find. It's the only South Pacific nation that has never been colonised, and never been under the control of a foreign power; it is also the very last remaining Polynesian monarchy. With a little time and a spirit of adventure you'll discover uninhabited coral islands where yours will be the only footprints, delightful snorkelling lagoons and happy go-lucky fishing villages to explore.

map of tonga in the south pacific

Reasons to Visit Tonga

  • Honeymoon / Romantic Escape
  • Whale Watching (July - Oct)
  • Island Cruises & Sightseeing
  • Snorkelling, Scuba Diving & Fishing
  • Backpacking & Exploring

Five Great Ideas for your Tongan Holiday

1) Find an uninhabited island and claim it as yours for the day

2) Go spot a humpback whale, and if game, get in the water to hear their singing

3) Visit the Trilithon, an ancient archaeological site at Mua on the eastern side of Tongatapu

4) Mingle with the village ladies as they make tapa cloth or weave a mat - best in Ha'apai

5) Attend a Tongan Feast and dance performance, preferably within a village environment

What to Do on Holidays in the Tonga Islands

One of Tonga's unique attractions is whale watching and the islands are one of only 3 places in the world where you can swim or snorkel amongst the humpback whales. Whale watching is most popular in Vava'u, but you can enjoy them throughout the group.

On Tongatapu, the main island, you can see the Mapu'a 'a Vaca Blowholes, which stretch along 5 km of rugged coastline and shoot seawater through limestone holes 30m into the sky. Also on Tongatapu are several outstanding archaeological sites to wander around highlighting Tonga's role as the powerhouse of Polynesia. Offshore from Nuku'alofa are tiny coral islands, mostly uninhabited but a couple have romantic resorts and ideal for a beach holiday with excellent snorkelling lagoons.

The outer islands offer an even more laid back holiday ambience and traditional society. A 30-minute flight to the north of Tongatapu is the Ha'apai Group. This scattering of islands has traditional fishing villages but only two beach resorts. The Vava'u Group, 20-minutes flight further north is the main centre for adventure holidays this myriad of islands and secluded bays has world class sailing and game fishing, excellent snorkelling and some great kayaking adventures.


Compared to other South Pacific Islands Tonga is most popular amongst sailors and discerning travellers with fabulous uninhabited islands to explore, great snorkelling reefs and is the best place in the world to watch humpback whales. Tonga is a very uncommercial destination with only around 50,000 tourists visiting the islands annually. Tonga is also very conservative – you should be aware of local customs, and that little happens on a Sunday.

The high season for tourism is between June and September which coincides with the arrival of the migrating humpback whales, the end of the tropical cyclone season (Nov to April) as well as being the much cooler winter months in New Zealand and Australia where the majority of tourists arrive from to escape the cold back home.

Tonga holidays offer some of the best value in the South Pacific although there are only a handful of beach resorts to choose from. There are no large brand hotels in Tonga - the largest hotel has only 120 rooms and this is a decidedly business style hotel in Nuku'alofa Town.


Get Active - Land & Water Activities

The Tonga Islands has an excellent reputation for its game fishing and sailing. But what many people come for is whale watching as the islands are reputed to be one of the best places in the world to see humpback whales up close (July to Sep) - you can even get into the water with snorkelling gear and listen to their songs. Tonga is an historic live museum of the people of this ancient land. Visit the many burial tombs and mounds that are dotted across all of the Tongan islands.

Tonga Land Activities & Sightseeing Guide

Tonga Water Sports Guide

Tonga Tourist Information

Tongatapu is the main island of Tonga with the capital Nuku'alofa and International Airport. There are direct flights from Auckland, Sydney, Fiji and Los Angeles and serviced by Virgin, Air New Zealand and Fiji Airways.

Find out more about where to stay in our comprehensive Tonga Accommodation Guide