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Tonga

TONGA TRAVEL GUIDE

Tonga is a Polynesian kingdom of more than 170 South Pacific islands, many uninhabited, most lined in white beaches and coral reefs and covered with tropical rainforest. The main island, Tongatapu, is protected by lagoons and limestone cliffs. It’s home to the rural capital of Nuku'alofa, as well as beach resorts, plantations and the Ha'amonga ʻa Maui, a monumental coral gate from the 1200s.

 

Primarily volcanic in origin, Tonga rises from the sea ringed by low coral reefs, making it ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving. Relatively cooler than most tropical islands, Tonga has the perfect weather for a vacation - not too hot, not too cold. A chain of 83 islands about 800 km. west of Fiji reminded Capt Cook of the dark, forbidding, wind buffeted islands off the Scottish coast and he named them New Hebrides. The islands range from towering volcanoes to those covered in dense rainforests to those with wide beaches with deep natural harbours.

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TONGA QUICK FACTS

  • Capital: Nuku'alofa
  • Government:Hereditary constitutional monarchy
  • Currency: pa'anga (TOP)
  • Area; 748 km2
  • Population: 103 197 (2018)
  • Language: Tongan, English
  • Religion:Christian
  • Electricity: 230V, 50Hz (Australian plug)

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TONGA PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

  • 25 April, ANZAC Day
  • 4 June, Emancipation Day
  • 4 July, King Tupou VI’s Birthday
  • 17 September, Birthday of Crown Prince Tupouto’a Ulukalala
  • 4 November, National Day (Constitution Day)
  • 4 December, King Tupou I Day
  • 26 December, Boxing Day

Also, Good Friday and Easter Monday.

FESTIVALS IN TONGA

Tonga

BEST TIME TO VISIT TONGA

Tonga has two seasons: the dry season, which runs from May to October, and the wet season, which runs from November to April. During the dry season, temperatures are mild and there is little rainfall, while during the wet season, temperatures are warmer and there is more rainfall.

 

The best time to visit Tonga is during the months of April to November, when the weather is dry and sunny. The months of December to March are considered the rainy season, and although the islands still receive plenty of sunshine, it can be quite wet during this time. Additionally, the months of June to October are the best time to visit for those interested in experiencing the kingdom's famous humpback whale watching season.

TONGA WEATHER SYNOPSIS

Tonga’s climate is tropical and is defined by a wet season from November to April with moderate and variable rainfall, and a dry season from May to October. The wettest months are January, February, and March with precipitation exceeding 250 mm of rainfall per month. During the dry season, precipitation per month is less than 250 mm. The mean annual temperature in Tonga varies from 26°C to 23°C. During the wet season, the average temperature ranges from 25–26°C, whereas during the dry season the average temperature ranges from 21-24°C.

Tonga

TONGA TOURIST SEASONS

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

Read more...

Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

JANUARY

HOT

COLD

MODERATE

DRY

WET

FEBRUARY

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COLD

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WET

MARCH

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COLD

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WET

APRIL

HOT

COLD

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WET

MAY

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COLD

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WET

JUNE

HOT

COLD

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WET

JULY

HOT

COLD

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WET

AUGUST

HOT

COLD

MODERATE
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WET

SEPTEMBER

HOT

COLD

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WET

OCTOBER

HOT

COLD

MODERATE
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WET

NOVEMBER

HOT

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DECEMBER

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SPORT & ACTIVITIES

SNOW SPORT IN TONGA

HIKING & CYCLING IN TONGA

The best months for outdoor activities in Tonga is from June to August. Whales also arrive sometime around mid-June and stay till early October.

BEACH OPTIONS IN TONGA

Tonga enjoys a hot, tropical climate suitable for beach going all year round. The driest months are typically from May to December, so these are best for enjoying the beaches. Whales also arrive sometime around mid-June and stay till early October.

SURFING IN TONGA

Tonga enjoys world class surfing year round with two very distinct seasons. You can enjoy the North Pacific Winter Swell from November to March, while the Southern Hemisphere winter swell season runs from April to October. Just note that pretty much all surfspots break over coral reefs, some dangerously shallow and require intermediate to advanced skill levels.

KITESURF IN TONGA

Kitesurfing in Tonga is mostly in the outer island groups of Vava'u and Ha'apai, where the southeast trade winds provide ideal conditions from May to late October.

For more details on kite surfing in Tonga expand this section!

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TRAVEL SAFETY IN TONGA

Always consider the current safety risk of each destination and do not travel without travel / medical insurance

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HEALTH RISKS IN TONGA

Be aware of possible health risks in 

Tonga

Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.

Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.

For the latest travel health notices and recommended precautions click

TONGA TRAVEL COSTS

The cost of traveling to Tonga can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the time of year, the method of transportation, and the type of accommodation.

  • Airfare: The cost of a round-trip ticket from the United States to Tonga can range from around $800 to $1,500, depending on the departure city and the time of year.
  • Accommodation: The cost of accommodation in Tonga can also vary greatly, with options ranging from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to luxury resorts. Prices can range from around $20 to $300 per night.
  • Food and transportation: Food in Tonga is relatively inexpensive, and you can expect to pay around $5 to $10 for a meal at a local restaurant. Transportation costs will depend on the type of transportation you choose. You can rent a car or bike, or take a bus or taxi.
  • Activities: The cost of activities in Tonga will depend on what you want to do. Many activities, such as snorkeling, diving, and island hopping, can be booked through tour operators. Prices for these activities can range from $20 to $200 per person, depending on the activity and the length of the tour.

Overall, you should budget around $100 to $150 per day to cover your expenses while in Tonga, depending on your preferences and travel style.

 

A sample budget for a trip to Tonga might look something like this:

  • Airfare: $1,200 (round-trip from the United States)
  • Accommodation: $50 per night (staying in a budget guesthouse)
  • Food and transportation: $20 per day (eating at local restaurants and using public transportation)
  • Activities: $100 for a snorkeling tour

Total cost for a 7-day trip: $2,040

 

This is just a rough estimate and the actual cost will depend on many factors, such as how much you plan to travel, your accommodation preferences, and the activities you plan to do. Additionally, this budget doesn't include other expenses such as travel insurance, visa or vaccinations, personal shopping and etc.

TONGA TRAVEL TIPS

Here are a few travel tips for Tonga:

  • Pack for the weather: Bring lightweight, breathable clothing for the warm weather, as well as a rain jacket or umbrella for the wet season. Also, pack sunscreen and a hat or sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Know the customs: Tonga is a conservative country, so it's important to be respectful of local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, especially when visiting temples or other religious sites.
  • Get vaccinated: Some parts of Tonga are at risk for certain diseases, such as dengue fever and typhoid. Be sure to check with your doctor or a travel clinic to find out what vaccinations you need before you go.
  • Bring cash: Many places in Tonga, especially on the outer islands, do not accept credit cards. Be sure to bring enough cash to cover your expenses.
  • Learn some basic words: Even if you don't speak Tongan, learning a few basic words can help you communicate with locals.
  • Be prepared for power outages: Power outages are not uncommon in Tonga, so be prepared for them by bringing a flashlight or headlamp.
  • Be respectful of the environment: Tonga is home to some unique and fragile ecosystems, so be sure to follow all instructions when visiting national parks or other protected areas. And always leave the beaches and natural environment as you found them.
  • Be prepared for long travel: Some of the outer islands can only be reached by small planes or ferry, so be prepared for long travel times and delays.
  • Enjoy the culture: Tonga is a beautiful country with a rich culture, so take the time to learn about it. Visit local villages, try the traditional food, and attend cultural events.

SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF TONGA

Tonga is an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean consisting of four main island groups: Tongatapu, Ha'apai, Vava'u, and Niuas. Each island group has its own unique highlights and attractions.

  • Tongatapu: The main island of Tonga, Tongatapu is home to the capital city of Nuku'alofa, as well as several historical and cultural sites. Visitors can see ancient burial mounds, visit the royal palace, and attend a traditional Tongan dance performance. The island also has beautiful beaches and is known for its bird watching, especially the unique Tongan megapode bird.
  • Ha'apai: This group of islands is known for its unspoiled beauty, with white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and coral reefs. Visitors can go snorkeling, diving, and island hopping, as well as explore traditional villages.
  • Vava'u: This group of islands is known for its stunning landscapes, which include lush green hills, crystal-clear waters, and white sandy beaches. Visitors can go sailing, diving, and explore the beautiful beaches. The island also has some of the best whale watching in the world from July to October.
  • Niuas: The least visited island group but it is a great destination for those looking for a more off-the-beaten-track experience. Visitors can explore traditional villages, go diving, and see the unique wildlife of the islands.

All over Tonga, visitors can see and experience the local culture, traditional dances, and friendly people. Each island group is unique, so you can choose the one that best suits your interests and travel style.

There are many things to see and do when visiting Tonga, depending on your interests. Here are a few popular options:

  • Visit the Royal Palace of Tonga: This palace is the residence of the King of Tonga and is a great place to learn about the country's history and culture. Visitors can take a guided tour of the palace and see traditional Tongan artifacts and artwork.
  • Explore the ancient burial mounds: Tongatapu is home to several ancient burial mounds, which are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visitors can take a guided tour of the mounds and learn about the history and culture of the ancient Tongans.
  • Go swimming with humpback whales: Tonga is one of the best places in the world to swim with humpback whales. Visitors can book a tour and swim alongside these gentle giants from July to October, an experience you will never forget.
  • Visit the Tongan villages: Tonga is home to many traditional villages, where visitors can learn about the local culture, see traditional houses, and meet friendly locals.
  • Go island hopping: Tonga's islands are known for their unspoiled beauty, visitors can go island hopping and discover beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and coral reefs.
  • Snorkeling and diving: The waters around Tonga are rich in marine life, visitors can go snorkeling or diving and discover the colorful coral reefs and tropical fish.
  • Attend a traditional dance performance: Visitors can attend a traditional dance performance and see the locals dressed in colorful costumes, performing traditional dances and singing.
  • Visit the Tongan National Centre for Pacific Arts: Visitors can learn about the Tongan culture, art and history and learn how to make traditional crafts, such as tapa cloth and lei.
  • Visit the Tongan National Museum: Visitors can learn about the history of Tonga and the Pacific Islands. The museum has a wide collection of artifacts and artwork, including ancient Tongan weapons, tools and pottery.

These are just a few of the many things you can see and do in Tonga. With its rich culture, beautiful landscapes, and friendly locals, Tonga is a great destination for any traveler.

Tonga

WHAT TO EAT IN TONGA

Tonga has a rich culinary tradition, with a mix of Polynesian, European, and Asian influences. Here are a few traditional Tongan foods that you should try when visiting:

  • Umu: Umu is a traditional Tongan method of cooking food underground. Meats, fish, and root vegetables are wrapped in banana leaves and buried in an underground oven. The result is tender and flavorful food that is a staple at traditional Tongan feasts.
  • Poke: Poke is a traditional Tongan salad made from raw fish, onions, and coconut cream. It is usually served as an appetizer or side dish and has a refreshing and light taste.
  • Lu pulu: Lu pulu is a traditional Tongan dish of taro leaves cooked with coconut cream and meat or fish. It has a rich and savory flavor and is a staple of Tongan cuisine.
  • Fekei: Fekei is a traditional Tongan dish of baked breadfruit with coconut cream. It is a great staple food and goes well with meat or fish.
  • Taro: Taro is a root vegetable that is a staple of Tongan cuisine. It is often cooked in coconut cream and eaten with meat or fish.
  • Kava: Kava is a traditional Tongan drink made from the ground root of the kava plant. It has a relaxing and calming effect, and is often served during traditional ceremonies and social gatherings.
  • Fresh fruits: Tonga has a rich variety of tropical fruits such as papaya, banana, coconut, pineapple, and passion fruit which you can try and enjoy.

 

When visiting Tonga, you can also try some international food options in the capital Nuku'alofa, there are some restaurants that serve Chinese, Italian, and Indian food.

 

It's worth noting that Tonga is a conservative country with strong Christian values, so it's best to dress modestly and be respectful of local customs and traditions when eating.

LGBTQ IN TONGA

Tonga

WHERE TO STAY IN TONGA

When visiting Tonga for the first time, you have several options for where to stay, depending on your budget and preferences. Here are a few options:

  • Nuku'alofa: The capital city of Nuku'alofa is a great place to stay for first-time visitors. It has a range of accommodations, from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxury resorts, as well as plenty of restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions. It's also a good base from which to explore the rest of the island.
  • Beach resorts: Tonga has several beach resorts located on the main island of Tongatapu, as well as the outer islands. These resorts offer comfortable accommodations, beautiful beaches, and a range of activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
  • Eco-lodges and camping: For a more immersive and authentic experience, you can stay at an eco-lodge or camp on one of Tonga's outer islands. These options offer a chance to experience the natural beauty of Tonga and to interact with the local community.
  • Homestays: Homestays are a great way to experience Tongan culture and hospitality. You can stay with a local family, learn about their way of life, and enjoy home-cooked meals.
  • Private Island Retreats: Tonga has a few private island resorts that offer the ultimate luxury island experience. These resorts are perfect for honeymooners and those looking for a romantic getaway.

It's worth noting that Tonga's peak season runs from June to September, and during that time, prices tend to be higher and accommodations may be more difficult to find. It's best to book your accommodations well in advance during this time.

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