When – Where – Why?
We decided to visit Tonga because it appeared before I discovered French Polynesia, it was the place to see and swim with humpback whales. I thought Tonga would be nice too but I was very disappointed. There is not much to do. People stay to see the whales and leave.
We stayed there for 17 days in September 2019 … we regret a lot. Swimming with the whales is amazing, but the way the tontines do is quite annoying I think … it does not bother everyone!
General & Important Information
* In Tonga there are some rules of life to respect. People must wear decent dress. That means :
– no one should have the bare chest, even at the beach (except in water for men)
– no one should wear clothes above their knees.
Plan appropriate clothes before leaving!
On Sunday there is nothing open and no excursion, plane, ferry, except to go on islands for the day.
* There are some campsites. Not sure that asking people to sleep in their garden works and be in the dying but you can try by still planning a rescue plan. Basically, if you do not have too many ways to avoid going on an adventure on Tonga.
* For the internet and phones There are two companies: TCC and Digicel. If you choose one of them, know that you will not be able to call the other if you do not have a big credit … it’s really bad luck! We have TCC price. They have offers with internet for several days or a month (the longer you take longer you will have GB), and a number of calls / SMS from CBT to CBT for several days too. Calls and internet are payable separately. The SIM card costs 5TOP. Internet seems to be very expensive here. So do not be surprised not to have unlimited internet in your home or that you are billed.
* You can eat cheap on the islands. There are restaurants that make dishes for less than 10 euros and it’s quite rich. The mini markets sell cheap products.
* Sunday try to eat a “umu”: the meal is cooked in the ground in the muffled.
* Do not be surprised if you are told that people eat dogs. It’s common here so do not judge them.
* Be careful, even if you have an international driving license you will have to pay a Tongan driver’s license to rent a car on Tongatapu. Maybe the landlord will not ask you but if the police stop you you may be fined! It’s 40TOP. Go to the Ministry of Transport on Alaivahamama’o Bypass.
There is a bus that goes on the island but no fixed schedules. You have to wait and raise your hand to stop it.
You can rent a car for cheap. The Sakura company rents from 35 TOP (about 15 euros a day!).
Address: On Hala Taufa’ahauen going to Hala Laifone Street. In front of Real Tonga Airline.
We came with Air New Zeland. The trip cost us about 350 euros one way from Papeete.
To go to the other islands of Tonga and Samoa there is the company Real Tonga. Airline There are several daily flights to Vava’u except Sunday. To go on Hapaii there are no flights every day. To go to two other islands in the north which I forgot the name is once a month and to go to Samoa is once a week. For details go directly to the agency because sometimes there are offers at half price! For example a trip Vava’u to Tongatapu cost us half price (168.4 euros for two people).
There is a ferry going to Hapaii & Vava’u. He leaves on Mondays and Wednesdays. The trip takes 24 hours to go on Vava’u. It stops on many islands but check the ferry returns to not be blocked there. The journey costs 99TOP and you settle anywhere (seats, ground, outside). Otherwise there are bunks with roaches (I specify because there are plenty); it’s 159TOP per person. For about 190TOP you have a bunk and meal. There is a “canteen” in the ferry that sells only cookies and others do not put healthy. Nothing hot so plan your meals.
There is a ferry going to Eua. It circulates every day. There are departures from Nuku’alofa at 11am in the morning, and return from Eua at 5am. The schedules are likely to change so inquire. The round trip costs 40TOP per person.
There are taxis in town. Here are some numbers in case:
* Fiemalie Taxi: Tel: 24270
* Holiday Taxi: Tel: 25655
* Wellington Taxi: 24744
The stop works pretty well and sometimes even without you asking anything to anyone!
The journey is by ferry from Tongatapu in 2h30. There are departures from Nuku’alofa at 11am in the morning, and return from Eua at 5am.
There are ferries every day.
The round trip costs 40TOP per person.
There is a plane that takes 7min to reach the island from Nuku’alofa.
The stop works pretty well and sometimes even without you asking anything to anyone!
We stayed in three different accommodations on Nuku’alofa:
* At Paea’s Guest House the manager, Paea, also runs the Tonga Holiday Villa. You will have private rooms with shared kitchen, toilet and bathroom. It’s very clean and she is very helpful but she is also very cunning. She will take you to town, you will think it’s free and then she will ask you for money! We did it and made us believe we could stay in one of his rooms when we got back from Vava’u; we had asked her to pick us up at the airport, she did not come and when we arrived at her house she told us that we could not stay and she tried to make us stay at her girlfriend who takes 50 euros per night … She offers a shuttle service to the airport at 40TOP (+ 10TOP if we pick you up between 8 pm-8am). The accommodation costs between 25 and 30 euros per night for two but it is off center and on foot it is an hour walk.
* Hotel Simon’s place. Great place. The rooms are spacious, clean and the walk-in shower is nice and the water is really hot. The night for two people costs about 40 euros. There is a very good restaurant whose prices are lower than in the main street. The food is good, plentiful and well presented. They have internet and it’s free. Very good address on Nuku’alofa.
* One’s guesthouses on airbnb. Large, spacious, clean and nice house a bit out of town. We share the house with the owner who is lovely and other guests. There is internet that works intermittently but it’s free. The food is great, there is everything to do! The rooms are very pretty and the bedding perfect. Excellent address for a long stay on Tongatapu.
Taina’s place: large family-run campsite. Some are very nice but three quarters will not be very concerned about your problems.
The camping costs 20TOP per person. They also have rooms for one or more people. You can cook but they also offer food service for 15TOP breakfast and lunch and 20-25TOP dinner. On Sundays you can see if they can make you a “umu”: the meal is cooked in the muffled ground.
They bring you and take you back to the ferry for 10-20TOP but watch out! they are super poorly organized … we almost missed the ferry because they had forgotten they had to bring us.
There are mini markets with some products. There are not fifty choices but on a short stay it will suffice. Prices are not excessive for an island.
There are plenty of fruit and vegetable stands on the side of the road; it’s cheap and good.
Prices are more expensive here because everything comes from Tongatapu.
If you can cook bring fruits and vegetables with you because they do not sell much on the island.
* There are nice and cheap restaurants (in the 10TOP flat). On Hala Taufa’ahaujuste before Hala Salote street, before the post office building.
* There is the Friends cafe tourist spot on Hala Taufa’ahau just past Hala Salote Street. We loved this place and made it our headquarters.
* Still on Hala Taufa’ahau after the Friend’s cafe go up the street and right after The Top cafe, there is a purple ice cream shop: Leihuni Waffle Bar. Their ice creams are brand Tip Topje ice creams but vanilla and chocolate are not bad. They make super good cones and they serve really very well!
* The Hot Pizza restaurant, a three-minute walk from Leihuni Waffle Barsur on the other sidewalk and just before the TCC shop. This restaurant does not look, it is tiny but their pizzas are very good. They are not like the ones we have in Europe but they are good and plentiful, and not expensive! 35TOP for I would say 40cm in diameter.
* The restaurant at the Simon’s Place hotel. The server is too nice and the food good, plentiful and well presented. It’s cheaper than on the main street.
* Tongan Mass
If you have the opportunity do not miss a Mass in Tongan.
* Traditional dance show with buffet
There are three hotels that offer it on Wednesdays and Fridays. They offer you a shuttle service for 15TOP.
* Oholei Beach Resort: Tel: 28864/7611783; firstname.lastname@example.org; oholeilbeachresort.com
We went for a walk in this resort. Honestly he is not very good. The boss and his staff are very hospitable.
* Vakaloa Beach Resort: Tel: 41233 / on Kanokupolu / email@example.com / www.vakaolabeachresort.com
We chose this resort finally. The staff is super nice. They have a large terrace facing the sea. The drinks prices are not higher than in town and the staff is very friendly.
* Liku’alofa Beach Resort: Tel: 41967 / on Kanokupolu / firstname.lastname@example.org / www.likualofa.com
* Whales and Diving
What: Seeing and swimming with whales is possible. There are several companies that offer day trips.
Who: We advise you Deep Blue Diving who is also on Water (half-day and more expensive).
Contact: Tel: 22840 / address: Faua warf, Nuku’alofa / email: email@example.com / www.deepbluetonga.com
Price: 350TOP the day.
* Excursions on islands to the day
What: You have time to spare and you want to swim and snorkel. Agencies and resorts offer tours to Pangaimotu, Fafa and Royal Sunset Beach. There are departures every day, even on Sundays! You can also sleep on site.
We chose Fafa Island and it was super nice. The resort is obviously run by rich Austalians but it still has charm. It’s quiet and with a nice beach. Lunch is included in; admittedly it’s disappointing compared to other much cheaper places in town but it does not matter if you stay the day (if you sleep on the spot tell them what you think they are trying to do a effort !). The drinks are not more expensive though. The restaurant has a beautiful terrace feet in the water. On the northern part of the island there are black tip sharks. Count 92TOP the day with transfer and lunch. Departure from Nuku’alofa is at 11am and return at 16h from the resort.
Price: Between 60-92TOP per adult and 15-46TOP per child.
Note: More information at the tourist office.
* Kayaking and fishing
Inquire at the tourist office or in your accommodation but there are these types of outings too.
* Tour of the island by car
What: If you have time, rent a car, there are some cool things (some on the map are still disappointing) to see.
Places of interest: From Nuku’alofa, heading to the left of the island and then looping through the south and west and returning to Nuku’alofa:
– Captain Cook’s Landing Place: Captain Cook arrived on Tonga for the first time. It is a platform in front of the sea.
– « Paepae ‘o Tele‘ a » : Royal tombs on one or more levels.
– « Ha’amonga ‘a Maui » : monument dating from 1200 BC. It consists of two vertical stones of 5m high on which is placed a stone of 5.3m long. People are not sure what it is: either a lunar calendar indicating the new year, or that it would indicate the shortest day and the longest day of the year.
– « Anahulu Cave » : Underground cave with impressive stalactites and stalagmites. The entrance costs 15TOP. It is possible to swim indoors.
–« ‘Oholei cave » : another cave by the sea. Inside there are the buffet shows of the resort of the same name. The beach is beautiful, the cave without interest.
– « Natural bridge & Cliffs Lookout » : Great place to admire the steep coast. There is a kind of natural bridge too. There are several nice views, you can have a good time.
– « Mapu ‘a Vaea » ou « Blowholes » : beautiful place for the sunset or just to admire the geysers that make waves crashing into the coral.
– « Tsunami rock » : A big coral stone on which many plants and trees grew. She was reportedly sent here during a volcanic eruption. Ancient tribes came to take refuge in its mini cave below and there had been cannibalistic rituals.
– « Sunset coast » : pretty beaches. Come in the afternoon to avoid low tide. There are many resorts where you can have a drink. Beware some beaches are paying! It’s stupid because going one step further is free.
– « Abel Tasman Landing place » : Another place not especially useful. Where Abel Tasman landed.
Conseil : Rent a car on a Wednesday or a Friday if you plan on going to a buffet show at a resort. The pick up per person costs 15TOP and the rental of the car for 24 hours costs 35TOP at Sakura.
*Baleines et Plongée
Quoi : Voir et nager avec les baleines c’est possible. Les compagnies proposent des excursions à la demi-journée.
Qui : Il y a plusieurs compagnies dont Deep Blue Divingqui est aussi sur Tongatapu.
Contact : Tel : 8714536 / adresse : Faua warf, Nuku’alofa / email : firstname.lastname@example.org / www.deepbluetonga.com
Tarif : C’est plus cher que sur Tongatapu. Ici c’est dans les 325TOP la demi-journée.
*Kayak et pêche
Renseignez-vous à l’office de tourisme ou dans votre hébergement mais il y a ce types de sorties aussi.
Quoi :Il y a quelques plages sur l’île. Vous pouvez y aller à pied si vous avez du temps sinon en stop.