Amazing Experiences in Tonga on the Water
Tonga is an island nation around 750km2 (290mi sq) of land area across a whopping 700,000km2 (270,000sq mi) of the Pacific Ocean. Needless to say, Tonga is mostly about the water, which is used to both work, travel and play. As a visitor on an island getaway, you’re probably going to want to do more of the latter, so check out some of the amazing experiences to be had out on Tonga’s waters with this list of the top water activities in Tonga!
1. Whale Swimming
Arguably the most popular water activity in Tonga, swimming with humpback whales is surreal and unique. Tonga is one of very few countries in the world where you are allowed to swim with humpback whales, where there is a wide array of whale swimming boat tours available across in almost all island groups. There are lots to unpack when it comes to whale swimming, so take a look at The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga for more information.
2. Scuba Diving
Tonga is the underdog of scuba diving in the South Pacific. While it’s not loud about its dive sites, those in the know come to Tonga to dive in the South Pacific’s largest sea cave, dive in incredibly clear water among pinnacles, arches and vast coral gardens. Both PADI and SSI dive centres can be found across Tonga, offering both recreational dives and courses. Learn more in The Guide to Scuba Diving in Tonga.
For those looking for something a little less complicated when it comes to exploring the underwater world, snorkelling is certainly a spectacular thing to do in Tonga. There are many resorts with amazing snorkelling just off the beach, while it’s always worth paying a little for a snorkelling boat tour to get to those untouched hard-to-reach places. Learn more about this water activity in The Guide to Snorkelling in Tonga.
One that catches many visitors by surprise is how awesome the kitesurfing is here. Particularly in the island groups of Ha’apai and Vava’u, the tradewinds combined with placid lagoons make for ideal conditions for kitesurfing. Only a limited number of resorts have gear for hire, so it’s usually best to bring your own. Check out The Guide to Kitesurfing in Tonga for more information.
Resorts and other waterfront accommodations in Tonga come hand in hand with kayaking, where many accommodations offer kayak hire for their guests for free. Aside from paddling from your resort to explore nearby bays, beaches and islands, there are also guided kayaking tours to take you to some of the stunning yet less-visited reaches of Tonga. Guided kayak tours range from two hours to 10 days! Find out more in The Guide to Kayaking in Tonga.
6. Stand-Up Paddleboarding
While not as easy to find as kayaking in Tonga, stand-up paddleboarding is slowly becoming a thing here in Tonga. A good selection of resorts offers SUP boards and paddles to hire to explore their surrounding tranquil lagoons and reefs. Some resorts like Matafonua Lodge in Ha’apai also have a comprehensive range of SUP experiences, from sunset tours to SUP yoga classes. Find out more in The Guide to Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Tonga.
The surf breaks in Tonga are still being established, but your best option for surfing is from Ha’atafu and Kanokupolu Beach on the western side of Tongatapu. Here, you can paddle just 100m (330ft) to get out to some awesome surf breaks, most of which are best for intermediate to advanced surfers. Alternatively, adventurous surfers will want to take a boat out in the Vava’u group to take on some of the epic reef breaks around the islands. Check out The Complete Guide to Surfing in Tonga to dive a little deeper into the subject.
Sports, game and spearfishing are kinds of a big deal in Tonga, being home to an internationally renowned blue marlin fishery. Just about any game species found in the South Pacific are prevalent in Tonga’s waters, where there are fishing charters across the kingdom keen to show you their favourite spots. Take a look at The Complete Guide to Fishing in Tonga for more information.
Tonga and Vava’u, in particular, are often described as the best sailing grounds in the South Pacific, but it’s not only the yachties who have the privilege to experience this. Sailing charters in Vava’u can give you a taste of yacht life, anchoring at a different island each night, checking out some snorkelling hotspots, and even swimming with whales in the right season. Learn more in the 5 Best Sailing Charters in Tonga.
10. Boat Tours
Finally, another fantastic way to get out on the water and see more of Tonga is by taking one of the boat tours. There is a range of small-boat cruises available in Tonga, taking you to uninhabited islands, caves you can snorkel in, to visit traditional Tongan villages and more. Check out some of your options in 10 Best Boat Trips in Tonga.