Why Visit Tonga?
Looking for a new place to go on holiday? Perhaps seeking a unique backpacking destination or have a week off work that you have no idea what to do with? Well, perhaps Tonga is your calling… Tonga is a nation of 170 islands scattered across the South Pacific Ocean. It’s home to a unique culture, diverse wildlife and stunning island landscapes. If that’s all you need to know, head to How to Plan a Trip to Tonga to start planning! Otherwise, scroll down if you need more reasons to visit Tonga!
1. It’s One of the Only Places You Can Swim with Humpback Whales
You might have heard of swimming with dolphins, manta rays and maybe even swimming with seals, but in Tonga, you can check one incredible experience off the bucket list: swimming with whales! Yes, we’re talking about 30,000kg (33 ton) giants that you can join in their natural element! Between June and October each year, Humpback Whales migrate to Tonga to mate and calve. During this time, you can also legally swim with these gentle giants in Tonga, one of the very few places in the world you can do so. Learn more about this life-changing experience in The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga.
2. The Culture is Unique, Authentic and Easy to Immerse in
Tonga is home to one of the South Pacific’s most fascinating cultures, the Tongan culture. The nation is proud to be the only Pacific nation to never have been colonised and is home to the South Pacific’s only monarchy. With around 98% of the population being Tongan, the culture is easy to immerse in as soon as you step off the plane. Cultural tours here are super-authentic, where it doesn’t feel like you’re getting rehearsed speeches or people and “putting on a show” (except for the cultural dance and song shows, because, well, they are a show!) Learn more about how you can interact with the locals in The Guide to the Tongan Culture for Travellers.
3. The Snorkelling and Scuba Diving are Incredible
How about snorkelling into a cave full of shoals of fish or scuba diving into the South Pacific’s largest sea cave? In Tonga, you have access to incredibly varied snorkelling and scuba diving sites. Caves, coral reefs, tunnels, pinnacles, shipwrecks, drop-offs, tunnels… It’s all here in the crystal clear waters of Tonga! Check out some of the 10 Best Places to Snorkel in Tonga and the Guide to Scuba Diving in Tonga.
4. It Can Be Super Affordable if You Want it to be
Food, accommodation and transport are super affordable, so you can relax when it comes to your travel budget. Guesthouses, which are accommodation mostly run by locals, provide a range of rooms for around TOP$20 for a dorm and around $120 for a private room. Pick up cheap produce from the local markets for self-catering, or eat out at one of the Top Cheap Eats in Tonga. As for getting around, take the bus for TOP$1, grab a taxi for TOP$20 or travel all the way from Tongatapu to Vava’u on a ferry for around TOP$80! Plan your budget with our What is the Cost of Travelling in Tonga?
5. Resorts Provide a Real Castaway Experience
Forget your over-developed luxury resorts with fake palm trees where tourists stay by the pool all day. The resorts in Tonga are the real deal. Stay in quaint fales (beach huts), often made with local materials with thatched rooves and walls decorated in tapa cloth and/or woven panels. There are often only two to seven fales in one resort, often giving you the whole beach lined with coconut palms to yourself. There’s often watersports equipment for you to make the most of the surrounding natural environment. But don’t worry, you won’t have to collect your own coconuts, as the resort restaurant will keep you well-fed with a mix of Tongan and international cuisine! Start browsing resorts in our Tonga Resorts & Hotels category.
6. It’s a Less-Visited Pacific Destination
Tonga is a country where you can truly get off the beaten track. Even in the high season, which is during the whale season, it never feels too crowded with tourists. Finding yourself at the most popular tourist attractions, the beaches or even a whole accommodation all to yourself is just another day-in-the-life of travelling Tonga.
7. Each Island Group is So Different
How can you feel like you’re in a different country each time you travel to a new island group yet be in the same country? Somehow, Tonga seems to manage it with each island group having very different landscapes and vibe! For instance, ‘Eua is a single rocky island with weathered formations and a national park forest. Ha’apai is a scattering of small islands with beaches and palm trees. Tongatapu is a developed island awash in villages, plantations and historic sites. Vava’u is a labyrinth of inlets and tightly compact islands. The Niuas are a snapshot of the past. Compare all of the island groups further in The Best Islands to Visit in Tonga.
8. It’s Safe
You don’t have to wander around holding onto your handbag or looking over your shoulder in Tonga. Crime rates are super low! Plus, dangerous animals are hardly an issue, with the only venomous sea snake not able to break through human skin (and don’t attack humans anyway). Tonga is also free of major diseases. However, that’s not to say that you should throw all caution to the wind. Check out How to Keep Safe in Tonga for advice.
9. There’s So Much to See on Land
In South Pacific countries, the water activities can take all of the limelight, but in Tonga, there’s so much to see on land! Check out incredible historical sites, like the mysterious Ha’amonga ‘a Maui trilithon or Tsunami Rock! There are royal palaces and tombs of ancient chiefs. Not to mention the natural wonders, from miles of blowholes to giant banyan trees to majestic limestone caves.
10. Tonga is a Year-Round Destination
When is the best time to travel to Tonga? Well, it’s when the best time is for you to travel to Tonga! As we’ve already established in our other points, there’s so much to do and see in Tonga. However, there are subtle differences in the tropical climate throughout the year and a very small selection of activities are seasonal. Check out The Best Time to Visit Tonga should you want to dive deeper into the subject.