The Top Tours, Activities and Experiences in Tonga
Tonga: it’s the place where you can swim with whales, right? Sure, but there’s so much more to it than that… Meet the locals, whether it’s to enjoy the richness of their arts, crafts and values or the close encounters with astonishing marine life including, indeed, humpback whales. Experience the islands’ serene beauty, from the shandy shores leading to lagoons or the rugged island interiors hiding caves and ancient banyan trees. And that’s just a general sense of some of the amazing things to do in Tonga…
Before we jump into this ultimate list of the 101 things to do in Tonga, be sure to bookmark The Complete Travel Guide to Tonga – it has some pretty essential tips in there!
1. Swim with Whales
That’s right, one of the top experiences in Tonga, if not the top experience in Tonga, is swimming with humpback whales. The whale season is between June and October, with whale swimming tours available in Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Ha’apai and Vava’u.
There’s much to unpack about swimming with whales so check out The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga for more advice.
2. Scuba Dive in the Tropical Ocean
More adventure can be found in Tonga’s tropical waters through scuba diving. Caves, coral gardens, tunnels, pinnacles, arches and shipwrecks can all be explored in the visibility of around 30m (100ft). Combine that with the hundreds of species of corals and fish, as well as sharks, turtles and rays, and you have some of the best dives in the South Pacific.
Check out The Guide to Scuba Diving in Tonga to learn more.
3. Relax on the Sandy Shores
Tonga has around 170 islands, some are mighty volcanoes while most are postcard-perfect paradises with swaying coconut palms encircled by stunning white-sand beaches. If you’re looking for a beach holiday without the crowds, Tonga is ideal.
4. See Historical Sites Like Ha’amonga ‘a Maui
Tonga has a history of kings, colonising other South Pacific Islands, being the only island nation in the South Pacific to never be officially colonised, tribal warfare, visits from the Western world, and more. With that, you’ll find some interesting historical sights around the islands, most famously the megalithic structure of the Ha’amonga ‘a Maui constructed in the 13th Century on Tongatapu.
Check out the 10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga for some amazing places to visit.
5. Discover Natural Wonders Like the Mapu ‘a Vaea Blowholes
As well as features that man has created, there are some interesting natural wonders to discover in Tonga. One such wonder is the kilometres and kilometres of blowholes across the Tongatapu coastline known as the Mapu ‘a Vaea Blowholes.
Check out the 10 Best Natural Attractions in Tonga as a place to start discovering more of Tonga’s natural wonders.
6. Experience the Tongan Culture with Ancient Tonga
Tonga has a rich and interesting island culture that can be engaged further at cultural centres like Ancient Tonga. The cultural tour operator offers a wide range of experiences, such as drinking kava, dancing, weaving and cooking. Find out more about Ancient Tonga on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Find out the many ways you can immerse in the Tongan culture in How to Have Real Cultural Experiences in Tonga.
7. Swim in Swallows Cave
A top snorkelling spot and hotspot for most boat tours in the Vava’u group, Swallows Cave is a must-do in Tonga. Carved into the side of Kapa Island, this towering cave provides a safe harbour for large schools of fish, which create mesmerising patterns.
Check out some of the tours that will take you there in the 10 Best Boat Tours of Vava’u.
8. Go to a Tongan Feast and Cultural Show
Food, fun and fantastic dancing can be experienced at the dinner shows found around Tongatapu and its outer islands. Resorts, such as Vakaloa Beach Resort, Fafa Island Resort, Liku’alofa Beach Resort and Oholei Beach Resort, all host Tongan cultural nights complete with grand feasts.
Find out more in The Best Cultural Shows on Tongatapu.
9. Snorkel Over Coral Reefs
There is so much snorkelling to be done in Tonga, where you can get up close to tropical fish, coral reefs and more! The snorkelling is particularly fantastic off the western shores of Tongatapu, from just about anywhere in Ha’apai, and from the outer islands of Vava’u.
Check out The Guide to Snorkelling in Tonga for more advice on the subject.
10. Hike in the ‘Eua National Park
Another side of Tonga is the rugged interior of some of its larger islands. The island of ‘Eua, in particular, is home to the ancient forest of ‘Eua National Park where the hiking here is simply amazing. You’ll pass by giant banyan trees with their tangling roots on your way to caves and lookouts over remote beaches.
Check out some of our favourite hikes in the 10 Best Walks & Hikes in Tonga.
11. Admire Stalactites and Swim in a Freshwater Pool in ‘Anahulu Cave
After ducking through the entrance to ‘Anahulu Cave, you’ll be in a 400m (1,300ft) long chamber lit up for you to admire the limestone formations hanging from the ceiling. At the end of the cave is one of Tonga’s only freshwater swimming holes – a must-do on Tongatapu.
Learn more about this attraction and more in the 10 Amazing Natural Attractions in Tongatapu.
12. Fish for the Pacific’s Pelagics
Fishing has been a way of life in Tonga for centuries but has developed into an exciting sport to catch the biggest fish in the southern Pacific Ocean. Whether you want an easy trawling charter or want to give spearfishing a go, Tonga has plenty of options.
Plan your fishing trip to Tonga in The Complete Guide to Fishing in Tonga.
13. Go On an Island Day Trip from Nuku’alofa
Just because you’re staying on Tonga’s main island doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the small tropical island experience. Island day tours depart from Nuku’alofa, where you’ll spend the day at your chosen resort snorkelling, exploring the island, kayaking and having lunch at the resort’s restaurant.
Check out each day trip in detail in the 7 Best Island Day Trips from Nuku’alofa.
14. Browse an Array of Crafts and Produce at the Talamahu Market
Well worth a look, the central Talamahu Market has an awesome array of arts and crafts filling just about every available space of this huge market building in Nuku’alofa. See intricately woven baskets, Tongan clothing, tapa-cloth paintings, carved jewellery, carved ornaments and so much more. On top of that, the market has a huge fresh produce section. It’s one of the must-dos in Nuku’alofa!
15. Hike to the Top of Mt Talau
Visiting the islands of Vava’u? A great place to start with your exploration is from the top of Mt Talau! Located in the Mt Talau National Park, the Mt Talau walk is a 10-20-minute climb through the forest and up some steep (and slippery) steps to a rewarding view.
Check out more recommendations for Vava’u in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Vava’u.
16. Take a Tour of Nuku’alofa and Tongatapu
At only 260km² (100 mi²), Tongatapu is easy enough to travel around in a day by either renting a car or taking a guided tour. Visit highlights like the limestone ‘Anahulu Caves, the Mapua ‘a Vaea Blowholes and many attractions we feature on this list of 101 things to do in Tonga!
Find a tour in The Best Guided Tours of Tongatapu.
17. Experience an Umu
An “umu” is a traditional style of cooking where food is slow-cooked in an underground oven for several hours. It’s a cooking style usually saved for special occasions, but visitors can experience an umu at experiences like Ancient Tonga in Nuku’alofa (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), as well as some accommodations across Tonga.
Learn more about where to try an umu in the 10 Best Foodie Experiences in Tonga.
18. See the Laku Fa’anga Cliffs and Rock Gardens
There are tons of features of natural beauty to admire on the island of ‘Eua, many of which can be seen on the Rock Gardens Walk. First, check out the rocky outcrops on the clifftops that make up the “Rock Gardens” often surrounded by wild horses, then look out over the Laku Fa’anga Cliffs to see an array of seabirds.
Learn more about getting to these attractions in the 10 Best Things to Do in ‘Eua.
19. Explore the Islands by Kayak
A watersport that’s easy to access in Tonga is kayaking. Many of the waterfront resorts in Tonga offer complimentary kayaks for guests to use to explore the coast, glide over crystal clear waters and reach epic snorkelling spots.
Check out The Guide to Kayaking in Tonga for more inspiration.
20. Go Kitesurfing on Flat Lagoons
The lagoons and reefs lining the shores of Ha’apai and Vava’u provide an awesome natural playground for kitesurfing. Some resorts specialise in the sport, while others can take you to the hotspots if you bring your own gear.
Head over to The Guide to Kitesurfing in Tonga for much more details.
21. Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
It wouldn’t be a South Pacific paradise without a spa or two to help you truly unwind. There are several day spas in Nuku’alofa, while some of Tonga’s island resorts offer spa treatments.
Start planning a day of relaxation with the 6 Best Spas in Tonga.
22. Delve into the Tropical Paradise of the ‘Ene’io Botanical Gardens
Learn about all sorts of interesting tropical plants and trees on a walking tour at ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden. Alternatively, there are birdwatching tours and cultural tours with cultural demonstrations. You can also join on a Sunday for a Tongan Sunday feast.
It’s also a worthy option if you’re travelling as a family, as are the 10 Things to Do in Tonga with Kids!
23. Experience the Glorious Singing of a Tongan Sunday Church Service
Sundays are a time to slow down in the islands of Tonga. Harmonious singing drifts through the villages and towns in the morning and afternoon church services, where visitors can immerse themselves a little further into Tongan culture.
Check out 10 Best Churches in Tonga for Tourists for some suggestions on churches to attend.
24. Watch the Flying Foxes of Kolovai
On Tongatapu is the village of Kolovai where you’ll find tens, even hundreds, of flying foxes residing in colonies in the village’s trees. Visiting this attraction is as easy as walking around the village and looking up.
Check out more wildlife wonders like this in the 7 Best Wildlife Experiences in Tonga.
25. Snorkel and Relax at Houmale’eia Beach
As mentioned, Tonga has so many stunning beaches, but one well worth mentioning is Houmale’eia Beach in the Ha’apai Group. Not only is Houmale’eia Beach easy to get to, but it has amazing snorkelling at the 400m (1,300ft) long reef. The beach is even backed by a couple of resorts, should you want to stay there or at least pop in for a bite to eat at their restaurants.
Check out more of Ha’apai’s attractions in the 10 Best Things to Do in Ha’apai.
26. Get a Pic of the Royal Palace
An iconic structure on the waterfront of the nation’s capital, Nuku’alofa, the Royal Palace stands as a symbol of the Kingdom of Tonga. The palace is made of kauri timber and was built in 1864 for King George Tupou I. To this day, it remains the residence of the royal family.
Check out more attractions to visit in the city in the 10 Best Things to Do in Nuku’alofa.
27. Marvel at the Hufangalupe Landbridge and Cliff Lookout
Yet another impressive natural feature of Tongatapu is the Hufangalupe Landbridge. Check out the coastal archway then walk along the clifftops to a nearby cliff lookout and the stunning Hufangalupe Beach.
See more amazing attractions on Tonga’s main island listed in the 10 Best Things to Do in Tongatapu.
28. Watch the Fishing Pigs in Mu’a
A wildlife encounter in Tonga that is verging on the strange, the Fishing Pigs, also on Tongatapu, is essentially a bunch of pigs in the village of Mu’a that have decided that they prefer seafood to the usual land fodder. Watch pigs sticking their heads in the mudflats in search of briny goodness.
Learn more about Tonga’s wild side in A Traveller’s Guide to Wildlife in Tonga.
29. Get an Obligatory Photo of the Three-Headed Coconut
Ok, if you thought the “Fishing Pigs” weren’t strange enough, then you might prefer to see a coconut tree with three heads?! The Three-Headed Coconut is said to be the only coconut tree in the South Pacific with three heads! Find it on the side of Loto Road on Tongatapu.
For more unusual sights, check out the 10 Unique Experiences in Tonga.
30. Learn Tongan Arts, Crafts and Dance
Immerse into the Tongan way of life through cultural classes, from weaving to tapa cloth-making to traditional Tongan dancing. A few affordable ways to get involved is through cultural classes offered by the local villagers in ‘Eua and organised through accommodations on the island. Alternatively, in Ha’apai, the Fonongava’inga (Langi Langi) Guesthouse also offers handicraft lessons.
Learn more about trying Tongan handicrafts in Where to Learn Tongan Handicrafts.
31. Admire the Liangahu’o ‘a Maui Landbridge
Found on one of the amazing walks on ‘Eua, Liangahu’o ‘a Maui is an archway or a “landbridge” that nature has carved into the cliffs. A wooden platform gives you the perfect lookout to peer through the archway to the ocean beyond.
See more romantic walks and activities like this in the 10 Romantic Things to Do in Tonga for Couples.
32. Check Out the Captain Cook Landing Site
On the edge of the Fanga’utu Lagoon on Tongatapu is the landing site of British Explorer Captain James Cook. A plaque is in the place where a banyan tree once stood to commemorate the occasion that took place in 1777, as well as when Queen Elizabeth II visited the landmark in 1970.
It’s one of many landing sites listed in the 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do in Tongatapu.
33. Scratch Your Head at Tsunami Rock
Also known as “The Maka Sio’ata”, Tsunami Rock is just one of Tonga’s gigantic boulders in an unusual place. Surrounded by coconut fields and some distance from the coast, Tsunami Rock is explained by geologists to be a rock that could have been deposited here by a tsunami.
Seeing fun attractions like Tsunami Rock is just one of the 10 Things to Do in Tongatapu with Kids.
34. Jump On a 4WD Tour of ‘Eua
We’ve already mentioned quite a few walks to enjoy the sights of ‘Eua but there’s another way to see it all! Almost all of the accommodations on ‘Eua offer their own 4WD tours, taking you to most of the major highlights within a day.
See more experiences like this in the 5 Things to Do in ‘Eua with Kids.
35. Shop for Arts and Crafts in Neiafu
The Tongan culture is renowned for its incredible arts and crafts, which can be sampled at the many gift shops, especially in Neiafu on Vava’u. From gorgeous whale tapa paintings to beautifully woven bags, check out crafts in the Vava’u Pearl Centre, VA Connect Craft Shop, Leonati Arts and more!
36. Read the Plaque (and Enjoy the View) From the Abel Tasman Landing Site
As you can see, when it comes to landmarks for where the first Europeans landed in Tonga, Tongatapu has you sorted. This time with the Abel Tasman Landing Site. An information panel at the site tells about the first encounter between the Tongan people and the Dutch explorer’s crew that occurred on 21 January 1643.
37. See Ancient Tombs at Papae ‘o Telea Royal Tomb
Ancient tombs are the most frequent historical site you can find in Tonga, with some of the most famous being the Papae ‘o Telea royal tombs. In the village of Mu’a on Tongatapu, the Papae ‘o Telea are examples of just two of around 28 royal tombs found in the area, each in a pyramid-like stone memorial.
38. Go Horse Trekking on the Beach
Explore the many quiet roads and dirt tracks of ‘Eua on horseback or ride across the pristine beaches of Ha’apai. Both island groups give you the opportunity to get around the islands the way that many of the locals do.
Get more horsey inspiration from the 5 Best Places to Do Horse Riding in Tonga TTD362.
39. Tour the Vava’u Pearl Centre
Vava’u is renowned for its production of mabe pearls. See some amazing mabe pearl art and jewellery and learn all about the production process at the Vava’u Pearl Centre in Neiafu.
By the way, you might like to check out the other 10 Best Things to Do in Vava’u while you’re here.
40. Explore Fangatave Beach and its Caves
Another stunning side of ‘Eua, the Fangatave Beach and Caves Hike mostly consists of scrambling down rocks until you eventually reach Fangatave Beach. First, you’ll reach a view of Kahana Spring, before coming across around 11 caves to explore along the way.
And yes, we do have a complete list of the 10 Best Things to Do in ‘Eua!
41. Charter a Yacht and Sail Vava’u
Vava’u is one of the most renowned sailing grounds in the South Pacific thanks to its labyrinth of inlets, bays and compacted islands. If you don’t have your own yacht (which, ya know, who does?), there are charter yachts to hire from Vava’u, whether it’s for one day or 10.
42. Check Out the Historical Site of the Velata Mound Fortress
An example of a traditional ditch fortification that was used throughout the South Pacific from the 15th to the 19th Century, the Velata Mound Fortress is a historical attraction in Ha’apai. Also nearby is the historical site of Olovehi Tomb.
Learn more about its exact location and other attractions nearby in the 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do in Ha’apai.
43. Go On a Bird Watching Excursion to Maninita Island
Real nature-lovers can jump on a boat in the Vava’u Group to visit Maninita Island from some of Vava’u’s resorts. This uninhabited island provides an important habitat for 19 species of birds, including the endemic Tongan Whistler.
Find out more in the 5 Best Places for Bird Watching in Tonga.
44. Take a Look Around Tupou College
Check out Tonga’s oldest school, Tupou College. Driving around the complex offers a few interesting sights between the central Moulton Memorial Chapel, the Tuku’aho Museum and the Toloa Forest Reserve – more on the latter later in this list of the best things to do in Tonga.
See more activities like this in the 10 Things To Do on Tongatapu with Kids.
45. Browse the Langafonua Handicrafts Centre
We’ve talked a lot about the handicrafts in Tonga but another crafting attraction you won’t want to miss in Nuku’alofa is the Langafonua Handicrafts Centre! All of the crafts are uniquely handcrafted by local women.
We also list this as one of the 7 Luxury Activities in Nuku’alofa.
46. Try Tongan Influenced Cuisine and Tour a Coffee Roastery at the Tupu’Anga Cafe
For some downtime combined with a Tongan foodie experience, head to Tupu’Anga Cafe. The cafe roasts its own coffee beans and is known across the island of Tongatapu for its irresistible Tongan snack, manioke (cassava) chips! Treat yourself to Tongan-inspired treats and tour the small factory.
See more experiences like this in the 8 Things to Do in Nuku’alofa for Foodies.
47. Spot Whales From the Shore
By now, you know about the spectacular whale swimming experiences in Tonga. But from ‘Eua and a few islands in Vava’u and Ha’apai, it is possible to enjoy the view of whales breaching and diving from shore.
48. Browse the Neiafu Market
A must-do in Neiafu, the Neiafu Market is where you can get a great insight into grocery shopping in the South Pacific. Admire piles of tropical fruit and vegetables, mingle with the locals, and check out the handicrafts for sale in the section next door.
49. Go for a Dip in the Hihifo Freshwater Spring
We couldn’t reach almost halfway through our list of the best things to do in Tonga without mentioning Tonga’s often forgotten island group, The Niuas. One attraction here is a crystal clear freshwater spring cracking open the earth’s surface on Niuatoputapu. A small set of steps leads into the spring, begging for a refreshing dip!
See more ways to experience Tonga’s most remote island group in the 10 Best Things to Do in The Niuas.
50. Soak Up the Views From the ‘Utula’aina Lookout
In the north of Vava’u’s main island, ‘Utu Vava’u, the ‘Utula’aina Lookout provides a stunning photo stop and a whale-watching lookout. After a drive down a rough dirt road (make sure your rental car has high clearance), you’ll reach the ‘Utula’aina Lookout with breathtaking views over Vava’u’s rugged cliffs, turquoise waters and white-sand beaches.
Check out more like this in the 10 Amazing Natural Attractions in Vava’u.
51. Do an Island Land Tour of Vava’u
Speaking of Vava’u and some of its harder to reach attractions, one way to see it all is on an affordable land tour. Enjoy insights from your local guide as you discover some of Vava’u’s best photo stops and learn about the culture and history of the islands.
Compare tours in The Best Guided Tours of Vava’u.
52. Try Kava
Engage in the local culture is by trying the national drink, kava. In the Tongan culture, typically men sit in a circle around a kava bowl and socialise. Nevertheless, both men and women visitors can try the narcotic drink, made with the ground-up root of a pepper plant.
Find out more on where you can try kava, as well as similar activities, in the 10 Adults-Only Activities in Tonga.
53. Get a Castaway Island Experience
Ready to be whisked away to your own private island for the day or even overnight? Sandy Beach Resort and Matafonua Lodge in Ha’apai offer couples the opportunity to spend some time on their private island, Luahako Island.
Learn more in the 10 Romantic Activities in Ha’apai for Couples for more activities like this.
54. Browse the Pangai Market
Another fantastic centre of a community in Tonga is the Pangai Market, the largest gathering of tropical fruit and vegetables in Ha’apai. Mingle with the locals and browse the tropical fruit and vegetables presented in pyramid-shaped piles, bundles and in woven baskets.
Plus, if you’re a bit of a foodie, don’t miss the 6 Best Foodie Experiences in Ha’apai.
55. Do a Cultural Tour of a Tongan Village
A real village tour is a little harder to come by in Tonga compared to other South Pacific Islands. The Women’s Group of Ha’ano village, however, works with Ha’apai resorts to give visitors a tour around the village with handicraft demonstrations while local school children perform traditional dancing. Most importantly, the experience includes an authentic Tongan feast.
56. Try Keki at a Local Bakery
Keki is a Tongan-style doughnut that you can buy in bakeries on Tongatapu, Vava’u and, more specifically, the Matuku-ae-tau Bakery on Ha’apai.
57. Go Scuba Diving into Cathedral Cave
Experienced divers have access to some of the best dive sites at their doorstep in Tonga. Tackle the renowned Cathedral Cave, the South Pacific’s largest underwater cave at 100m/330ft long, 50m/165ft wide and 30m/100ft deep. The dive site can be found in ‘Eua.
Compare scuba diving operators in The Best Scuba Diving Tours in ‘Eua.
58. Look Out for the Red Shining Parrot
That’s right, not only is the underwater world full of interesting wildlife, but the land provides too! The red shining parrot, also known as the “koki”, is the icon of the island of ‘Eua. It’s often seen and/or heard on the forest walks of the island.
59. Get Awesome Views From Hulu’ i Paongo Point
More sights await at the south of Lifuka Island in Ha’apai where the road ends at Hulu’ i Paongo Point. Here, you’ll get amazing views of a sweeping white sand beach, as well as Uoleva Island. Just before you reach the point, there is also the Hulu’ i Paongo Tomb, a burial site of a long line of chiefs.
60. Do Some Rock Climbing
Keen rock climbers, set your sights on ‘Eua. Ascend the dramatic cliffs of Fangatave Beach, which boast steep limestone climbs ranging in grades 18 to 23. More than 50 routes have been established in ‘Eua so far with more being discovered as the sport develops on the island.
61. Explore the Coast and Reefs on a Stand-Up Paddleboard
A peaceful way to explore the coast and reefs from your resort is on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). The resorts listed in the 8 Best Resorts for SUP in Tonga hire out usually for free. A couple of resorts in Ha’apai even offer guided SUP tours.
Plan the SUPping portion of your Tongan adventure in The Guide to Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Tonga.
62. Peak (or Splash) Inside Veimumuni Cave
An interesting natural feature hidden in a village in Vava’u, the Veimumuni Cave is a sea-facing cave filled with a freshwater pool. The cave is free to visit and well-signposted from the main roads when travelling south from Neiafu.
Check out more interesting caves to visit in the 10 Incredible Caves in Tonga.
63. Hit the Surf
Who would have thought this little-known island nation is a pretty awesome surf destination? You don’t know the meaning of “uncrowded” surf breaks until you have blasted along the remote reef breaks of Vava’u or taught your kids to surf from the beaches of Ha’apai.
Incorporate a little surf into your getaway by following the advice in The Complete Guide to Surfing in Tonga.
64. Explore Vava’u by Land Kart
Explore Vava’u‘s wild side on a self-drive quad bike or UTV tour with Explore Vava’u! You’ll follow your guide through ‘Utu Vava’u (the main island of Vava’u) on the various dirt roads, passing plantations and tropical forest on your way to some stunning lookouts.
65. Follow the Rainforest Trails of the Toloa Rainforest Reserve
Well maintained forest trails wind their way through the 6ha (14-acre) Toloa Rainforest Reserve on Tongatapu. Located on the grounds of the Tupou College near Fua’amotu Airport, the rainforest is one of the last remaining natural forests in Tonga.
66. Catch the Heilala Festival
Tonga’s largest festival is a multi-week event starting on July 3 or 4 each year. The event kicks off with the King’s Birthday and has talent shows, brass band performances, singing competitions and much more. The highlight of the event is the Miss Heilala Beauty Pageant.
See more events worth timing your trip with in the 10 Biggest Events in Tonga.
67. Play at Tonga’s Only Golf Course
If you’re looking to enjoy a relaxing round of golf in paradise or play golf in possibly one of the remotest courses you’re likely to play on, then the Royal Tonga Golf Club is one to tick off the list!
Find out more about Tonga’s only golf course in The Complete Guide to Golf in Tonga.
68. Be Treated to a Private Dinner on the Beach
For something a little special to do with your loved one, enjoy a private dinner on the beach of your resort. Resorts such as Sea Change Eco Retreat in Ha’apai and Treasure Island Eco Resort in Vava’u can prepare an evening under the stars.
Check out the 10 Romantic Activities in Vava’u for Couples for more experiences like this.
69. See the Mala’ekula Royal Tombs
Impossible to miss in a large grassy clearing in the centre of Nuku’alofa, the Royal Tombs are the burial grounds of the Royal House of Tupou dating back to 1893. While the historical site is fenced off to the public, visitors can read about its significance on various interpretation panels around the perimeter.
See more free attractions like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Nuku’alofa.
70. Witness the Giant ‘Ovava Tree
Also called the “Big ‘Ovava Tree”, anyone referring to the ‘Ovava Tree is referring to an incredibly large banyan tree is the ‘Eua forest. See hundreds of the tree’s roots draping from above, some of which delve down into a sinkhole.
71. Tour a Vanilla Plantation
Vava’u provides the perfect conditions for growing vanilla beans, where a drive around the main islands alone provides travellers with the opportunity to check out vanilla plantations. To amp up the experience, do an informal vanilla tour with Heilala Vanilla, who works with local farmers to grow ultra-fresh vanilla and create all sorts of vanilla products.
For more experiences like this, check out the 7 Best Foodie Experiences in Vava’u.
72. Check Out Vai Lahi
Vai Lahi means “Big Lake” and it’s a large freshwater lake sitting in the crater of Niuafo’ou Island in The Niuas. The lake contains four islands, one of which is only visible when the water level drops. Locals may be able to take you to one of the vantage points for a good photo opportunity.
Find out more about these far-flung islands in the 10 Must-Dos in The Niuas.
73. Stop By the Christianity Landing Site
To commemorate the arrival of the Christian religion to Tongatapu with the landing of pioneering missionaries, Rev. John Thomas and Rev. John Hutchinson, there is a plaque telling the story of the arrival of the missionaries in English on one side and Tongan on the other.
74. Explore the Islands by Bike
Soak in the scenery and have some two-wheeled fun by cycling in Tonga. Bike hire is available in all of the island grounds (except The Niuas) where our favourite routes to explore can be found in The Best Bike Trails in Tonga.
75. Have a Picnic at Popua Park
What used to be an area only ventured to dump rubbish (apparently you could smell the stench all the way down the waterfront), Popua Park in Nuku’alofa was transformed into a recreational haven. Check out the flower gardens, play on the beach volleyball court, let the kids loose at the playground, and have a picnic.
76. Take a Look at the Port Au Prince Memorial
Visit a monument just north of the airport runway in Lifuka, Ha’apai, to see the place where the captain and around half of the crew of the Port au Prince were massacred on 26 November 1806.
77. Treat Your Tastebuds at a Local Restaurant
Tonga has plenty of options when it comes to dining out, from the local dishes to try at your resort’s restaurant to the multitude of international cuisines represented in the towns of Nuku’alofa and Neiafu.
Check out the Guide to the Best Eats & Restaurants in Tonga to get some recommendations.
78. Soak in the Views From Lokupo Lookout, Laua Lookout and Rats Cave
For those delving into the ‘Eua National Park, there are some amazing vantage points to find. The Lokupo and Lau Lookouts are destinations on some of the guided hikes available in the ‘Eua National Park, as is Rats Cave, which frames amazing views of the national park’s forest and beaches through a cave opening.
Learn how to get there in the 5 Best Hikes in ‘Eua.
79. Swim into Mariner’s Cave…
Another cave in the Vava’u Group, Mariner’s Cave is a worthy cave to explore only for strong snorkellers who can swim underwater for about 4m (13ft). You’ll emerge in an airtight chamber with an eerie fog created by the outgoing surge making the pressure and temperature drop.
See how you can get to Vava’u’s highlights on the water in the 10 Best Boat Tours of Vava’u.
80. … Or Dive into Shark’s Tooth Cave
On the subject of caves, Divers should definitely give a go to Shark’s Tooth Cave in Vava’u. The cave has three openings joined by a 16.5m (54ft) tunnel. Inside are several chambers with schools of fish decorating the waters, as well as crayfish, nudibranchs, butterflyfish and more.
See more amazing dive sites nearby in the 10 Best Dive Sites in Vava’u.
81. Surf, Swim and Check Out the Resorts at Ha’atafu Beach
There are many great beaches on Tongatapu. One of the most popular, however, is Ha’atafu Beach, not only for its surfing, marine reserve and snorkelling but because it looks pretty darn good.
Learn more about beaches to visit on Tonga’s main island in The Guide to Beaches on Tongatapu.
82. Snorkel at the Japanese Coral Gardens
Tonga has quite a few amazing snorkelling spots. One definitely worth mentioning is the Japanese Coral Gardens in Vava’u. This collection of bommies is teeming with coral, fish and all sorts of colourful and crazy creatures!
See more amazing snorkelling spots in the 10 Best Places to Snorkel in Tonga.
83. Relax on the Pristine White Sands of Nuku Island
Vava’u is made up of around 50 islands, many of which are great examples of your picture-perfect paradise island. One such island is Nuku Island, not too far from Swallows Cave, which also makes it a popular stop for boat tours. Relax on its white sands, have a picnic, and even snorkel around the island to spot eels in the sand.
84. Explore the Volcano of Tofua
If you get the opportunity for a boat excursion in Ha’apai, try to visit Tofua. The volcanic island, with a once recorded population of “two”, makes for an interesting visit for its volcanic activity and bird sanctuary.
See more interesting islands to explore in the 10 Less-Travelled Islands of Tonga.
85. Hike to Tonga’s Highest Peak on Kao Island
Next to Tofua is the stratovolcano of Kao Island, which is also the highest point in Tonga at 1,030m (3,379ft). Take a boat trip out to the island to hike to Tonga’s highest peak and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding Pacific Ocean and Tofua Island.
86. Scuba Dive into Hot Spring Cave
An interesting and unique cave for divers to check out, Hot Spring Cave has a hydrothermal vent gushing hot water into the cooler waters of the cavern. The dive site in Ha’apai has a 15m (49ft) high ceiling, as well as interesting sponges and corals near the entrance.
See more dive sites in this island group in the 5 Best Dive Sites in Ha’apai.
87. Watch the Sunrise From Keitahi Beach
Tonga’s easternmost beach is an ideal place to wake up early and watch the sunrise. This rugged beach on ‘Utu Vava’u (the main island of Vava’u) has rocks and tiny islets just off the sweeping coastline, making for a stunning silhouette against the early morning sun.
Find more stellar sunrise spots in the 8 Most Beautiful Sunrise & Sunset Spots in Tonga.
88. Try ‘Ota Ika
The easiest Tongan dish to find on restaurant menus across the islands is ‘ota ika; raw fish marinated in coconut cream and citrus juice. It’s a light meal, which is good for either lunch or an entree to an evening meal.
For some restaurants to try this at, take a look at the “Tongan Restaurant” section of The Guide to the Best Eats & Restaurants in Tonga.
89. Stargaze at Ultra-Clear Skies
Unpolluted by artificial lighting, Tonga’s skies at night display amazing views of the Southern Cross and the distinct shades of our Milky Way Galaxy. Any of the 170 islands of the remote nation in the Pacific Ocean gives you sensational stargazing on a clear night.
Nevertheless, you can check out out some especially good stargazing locations in our 5 Best Places for Stargazing in Tonga.
90. See a Culture Show in Hina Cave
Hina Cave is not only an impressive coastal cave on the beaches of eastern Tongatapu, but it’s also the venue for one of the most popular cultural shows in Tonga. Oholei Beach Resort hosts cultural performances in the cave followed by a Tongan feast at the resort every Wednesday and Friday night.
Find out more in The Best Cultural Shows on Tongatapu.
91. Do an Island Yoga Session
In Ha’apai and Vava’u, there are resorts with their own gorgeous yoga pavilions either nestled in coconut trees or hanging over the beach. Could there be a better setting to find your zen?
Learn more about where to do yoga in the 5 Beautiful Places to Experience Yoga in Tonga.
92. Have a Sip of ‘Otai
A refreshing drink that’s popular across the South Pacific, ‘otai is well worth ordering if you see it on the menu. A common ‘otai recipe is blending water with shredded coconut flesh and a mix of watermelon, mango and pineapple.
See more drinks to order in the 10 Drinks in Tonga You Have to Try.
93. Hit the China Town Dive Site
Many of the top natural attractions in Vava’u are, in fact, under the ocean’s surface. Discover some unusual coral formations that look like Chinese architecture – not to mention that they hold an array of mesmerising tropical marine life, at China Town.
Check out more dive sites worth having a scuba in the 10 Best Dive Sites in Vava’u.
94. Join a Wellness Retreat
Yoga, art, writing, meditation, dance, cooking, wellness, church groups, business… There are all kinds of retreats happening in Tonga. The retreats are enhanced further with their beautiful resort environments on stunning islands. Retreats typically take place at resorts in Vava’u and Ha’apai.
Take a look at the guide to Wellness & Yoga Retreats in Tonga for more information.
95. Take the World’s Shortest Flight
That’s right, Tonga has claimed the world’s shortest commercial flight with their seven-minute flight between Tongatapu and ‘Eua. During the whale season, keep an eye on the ocean to see whales from above for a unique perspective!
Learn more about domestic flights in The Guide to Flights in Tonga.
96. Sample Some Lu Pulu…
A semi-common dish you’ll find on restaurant menus in Tonga, lu pulu combines coconut milk, onions, tomatoes and canned corned beef (Tongans love their corned beef!). These ingredients are then wrapped in taro leaves and baked in an oven or umu for two hours.
97. … Or Dare to Try the Niuafo’ou Grub
If you manage to make it to this extremely remote island in the northern reaches of Tonga, you can pat yourself on the back. You can also pat yourself on the back if one of the locals of Niuafo’ou manages to convince you to eat the Niuafo’ou grub, a grub that is considered a delicacy and can only be found on this island.
98. Add the Shirley Baker Monument to Your Must-See Monument List!
The final historical site to see on this list of 101 things to do in Tonga is the Shirley Baker Monument and the European Cemetary found in Ha’apai. He was Tonga’s first prime minister and advisor to King Tupou I.
Learn more about Tonga’s social history in A Brief History of Tonga.
99. Drink From a Coconut
Don’t forget to enjoy the simple pleasures of island life, like sipping fresh coconut water from a coconut. Fresh coconuts are available to purchase from cafes and resorts across Tonga. Some resort staff might even get you a coconut straight from the tree if you ask.
100. Hike to the Summit of Tafahi Island
A prominent feature in The Niuas, Tafahi Island is a towering cone-shaped island volcano reaching 656m (2,152ft) above sea level. The island sits approximately 9km (5.6 miles) north of Niuatoputapu, where boat trips and hiking guides can be organised with villagers or fishermen. Be prepared for a steep hike. On a fine day, you’ll be able to see Samoa from the top!
As we reach the end of this whopping 101 things to do in Tonga, it’s worth reminding yourself to relax. With warm soothing temperatures all year round and stunning paradise islands to admire, you can be forgiven for wanting to simply relax in Tonga.
Check out the 10 Glorious Ways to Relax in Tonga for ideas.
More Things to Do in Tonga
Thanks for sticking with us for the 101 best things to do in Tonga. We hope that this has helped you complete your Tonga bucket list, but if not quite, how about these articles for extra ideas?
Finally, plan the ins and outs of your trip using The Complete Travel Guide to Tonga or the Tonga Travel Tips: 31 Tips for Travelling in Tonga.