The Best Port of Call Tours and Tours for Cruise Ship Passengers in Tonga
Tonga is the highlight of many remarkable cruises across the South Pacific – just see the 10 Cruises That Visit Tonga. As any savvy cruise-goer will know, booking your own shore excursions is a surefire way to save money on activities compared to booking shore excursions through your cruise liner. With that in mind, we’ve put together a quick list of Tonga shore excursions to help you plan for your next South Pacific sailing.
1. East Coast and ‘Anahulu Cave and Beach Tour – Teta Tours & Travel
Join Teta Tours & Travel for a shore excursion to one of Tonga’s most mesmerising natural attractions, ‘Anahulu Caves! The half-day tour takes you to the stunning limestone caves with a cave pool to have a refreshing dip – so bring your swimwear! You’ll also visit some interesting historical sites, from the Ha’amonga ‘a Maui (also known as the Stonehenge of the South Pacific) to the ancient burial tomb of kings at Langi. Pick-up is right from the port in their branded vehicles.
2. Tongatapu Island Tour – Tonga Holiday Villa
One of the most affordable shore excursions, this “Tongatapu Island Tour” with Tonga Holiday Villa provides a real local experience. The flexible tour can last 3-6 hours, depending on what you want to see and what you want to do. Otherwise, let your local guide show you the attractions around Tonga’s main island, including the mesmerising ‘Anahulu Cave, the giant boulder of Tsunami Rock, the Royal Palace and the intriguing Three-Headed Coconut Tree! Traveller pick-up is offered and water and tropical fruits are provided throughout the tour.
3. ‘Anahulu Cave and Culture Tour – Teta Tours & Travel
Combine visiting one of Tonga’s most stunning natural attractions with engaging in a vibrant island culture in this “‘Anahulu Cave and Culture Tour” with Teta Tours & Travel. The 3-hour tour takes you to the beautiful limestone cave of ‘Anahulu Cave, incorporating live food and crafting demonstrations for intriguing insights into the Tongan culture. After a traditional kava ceremony, witness tapa cloth-making, watch coconut climbing (if the weather permits) and see how coconuts are husked and grated to be used in everyday cooking and crafting. The experience also includes tastings of Tonga’s most iconic tropical fruits! For more like this, head to the 10 Best Culture Tours & Experiences in Tonga.
4. Private Mainland Tour – Tonga Travel Troupe
Get the VIP experience on a shore excursion with Tonga Travel Troupe. This 6-hour tour of Tongatapu is exclusively for you and your group, where you’ll get to choose where you want to spend time the longest and see any additional highlights along the way. Otherwise, your local guide will take you to all of the major attractions across the island of Tongatapu! Learn more about this tour and others in the 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in Tonga.
5. Tour of Tongatapu – Raea’s Taxi & Tour Services
Meet Loa, your friendly Tongan tour guide who is passionate about his island and showing visitors Tongatapu‘s breathtaking sights. Whether you’re a solo traveller, a couple or a group of up to six, Raea’s Taxi & Tour Services offers a range of rates and itineraries to suit. A typical tour has you heading up west to the Abel Tasman Landing Site, then following the coast down to Ha’atafu Beach and Tsunami Rock. Be amazed by the ocean’s power at Mapu’a Vaea Blowholes and Hufangalupe Natural Land Bridge. Then, it’s time to head east to the Terraced Tombs, Fishing Pigs, Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon and finally, a dip in ‘Anahulu Cave. Tours include a drinking coconut, smiles and good times – you bring the rest. Tours last approximately 5/6 hours.
6. Vava’u Island-Hopping Tour – Jones Travel & Tours
If Vava’u is your port of call, a good go-to for exploring the area is with Jones Travel & Tours who specialise in shore excursions in Tonga. Their three-hour boat tour in Vava’u incorporates plenty of snorkelling for those who are keen, as well as whale watching in the right season (but not whale swimming). The tour includes a stop at the idyllic uninhabited Nuku Island with its glorious white sands, as well as the iconic Swallows Cave etched into the cliff face of Kapa Island. The tour includes refreshments, but bring your own snorkelling gear. The team will meet you at the wharf and/or organise a taxi for the less-mobile to get to the boat’s launch point.
7. Vava’u Sightseeing Tour – Steven’s Island Tour/Hansen Tours
Explore the causeway-connected islands of Vava’u with a local on Steven’s Island Tour (also known as Hansen Tours). Either curate an island tour visiting your selected sights and attractions or choose from three preplanned tours. Tour #1 is the “Capital Tour“, taking you to the top sights in and around the main hub of Vava’u, Neiafu. Tour #2 is the “Local Points Tour“, which also takes you to some more active highlights of the Neiafu area, such as Mt Talau and Veimumuni Cave. Tour #3 is the “Beach Tour” to explore Vava’u’s best beaches and stop by some lookouts along the way.
Tours last approximately 3-4 hours, are suitable for groups of up to eight guests and include refreshments such as local fruit and a drinking coconut.
8. Tongatapu Shore Excursion – Toni’s Island Tour
A popular option for cruise ship passengers wishing to explore the sights of Tongatapu, Toni and Leni from Toni’s Guesthouses offer island tours! The Tongan/palangi duo have been operating their tourism business for more than a decade, showcasing the sights and sounds of Tongatapu with all of the usual 10 Best Sights & Natural Attractions on Tongatapu included on the tour. This is a full-day tour, lasting anywhere between five to seven hours depending on your group and what you want to do. The price is cheaper per person the more you tour with, so it’s ideal if you can get a group together. Note that you’ll need to bring your own lunch. For more options on Tongatapu, check out the 5 Best Guided Island Land Tours of Tongatapu.
9. Vava’u Land Tour – Grace City Taxis/Vava’u Taxi Council
Most taxi companies in Vava’u double up as island tour guides, which is especially the case for Grace City Taxis. Their guided island tours of Vava’u are the perfect option for cruise passengers who haven’t got a plan and want a suggested itinerary. The four-hour tour takes you to the likes of Mt Talau, Pouono, Veimumuni Cave, ‘Esi ko Salote, ‘Utula’aina Lookout and Hila ki Tapana Lookout. They sometimes have fruit and light refreshments but it’s recommended to bring your own water (or they will stop for you to buy refreshments). Tours are suitable for up to six people. For more tours of Vava’u, head to the 5 Best Guided Island Land Tours of Vava’u.
10. Culture Tour – Ancient Tonga
For something a little different, experience the rich island culture of Tonga with Ancient Tonga! The cultural centre in Nuku’alofa offers “Half” and “Full Culture Tours” revolving around Tongan arts, crafts, dance and food. The interactive tour begins with preparing a traditional cooking method called an “umu“, where you’ll learn to husk and grate a coconut and prepare lu by wrapping meat and coconut cream in leaves. While the umu is cooking, take a guided tour of a private museum and stop by various stations that showcase the arts, fashion, food and drink of the islands. By being based in Nuku’alofa, you may also have enough time to explore the capital once the tour is done – see A Self-Guided Day Tour of Nuku’alofa: One Day Itinerary for ideas.
More About Tonga Shore Excursions
That’s it for our list of the best shore excursions in Tonga. For more advice on cruising Tonga, see the guides below:
- The Guide to Taking a Cruise to Tonga
- 10 Ways to Save Money on a Cruise to Tonga
- 10 Best Cruises That Visit Tonga
Finally, get inspired by the array of experiences in The Kingdom with the 101 Best Things to Do in Tonga: The Ultimate List.