What Drinks to Order in Tonga
Sampling the local flavours is all part of experiencing the culture when travelling. In Tonga, you couldn’t have a more diverse array of beverages, from narcotic drinks ingrained in the Tongan culture to punchy coffees made from beans grown on the islands. Beers, tropical fruit drinks, cocktails, coconut water… It is all done well and produced with passion here in the islands. All you have to do is try them for yourself! See some of our recommended liquid recommendations in this list of the drinks in Tonga you have to try!
And to accompany your drinks, be sure to also try the 10 Unique Foods in Tonga You Have to Try.
Kava is the national drink of Tonga, made with the ground-up kava root mixed with water. It is a narcotic drink, which is typically only drunk by men in kava circles, also called a kalapu (club) or faikava (to drink kava). Don’t worry, you have to drink quite a lot to feel any effects. For visitors of any gender, it’s possible to try kava in some resorts or some local guesthouses will even take you to an authentic faikava.
Learn more about this experience and how to participate in our guide, Where to Try Kava in Tonga.
A refreshing drink popular across the South Pacific, ‘otai is a refreshing fruit drink usually accompanying large meals, but can also be found at markets in Tonga. A common ‘otai recipe is blending water with shredded coconut flesh with watermelon. However, there are other popular renditions of the drink, such as watermelon and pineapple or just mango, pineapple or ambarella fruit (vi). Traditionally, the drink was made with fekika, a mountain apple, before watermelon was introduced to Tonga.
‘Otai is typically made in Tongan homes but can be found for sale at the Tu’i Mata Moana Market at Faua Wharf, Nuku’alofa – learn more in the 5 Best Markets in Tonga.
3. Pacific Brewing Co. (Maui, Tiki and More)
One of the most recognisable beer brands across the islands of Tonga, Pacific Brewing Co. crafts a range of beers, ginger ales and RTDs. Maui Pacific Larger and the similarly tasting Tiki Pale Ale are the easiest to find on tap and in bottles in bars, restaurants and resorts across The Kingdom, while Pulotu Coconut Stout is a darker beer with strong coffee and barley components well worth scouting out. Also available are Hikule’o Ginger Beer and Koai Bourbon & Cola.
Check out some bars where you can try Tongan beers in the 10 Best Bars in Tonga.
4. Tupu’Anga Coffee
Tupu’Anga Coffee is coffee handpicked, roasted and packaged in Tonga. Their cafe and roastery can be visited in eastern Nuku’alofa just off Umusi Road where the coffee can be tasted and informal roastery tours are available. Tupu’Anga also prides itself on ethical trade where they pay Tongan Arabica bean farmers a fair price above the worldwide commodity rate, as well as only using local Tongan workers throughout the farming, roasting and packaging process.
The best place to try Tupu’Anga Coffee is at their cafe in Nuku’alofa. Learn more about visiting the cafe in the 10 Best Cafes in Tonga.
5. Kingdom Koffie
Another fantastic Tongan coffee you can try on the islands is Kingdom Koffie! It’s one of the main coffees sold in cafes, made from coffee beans harvested on a plantation in Vaini on Tongatapu. Kingdom Koffie is also widely available to buy in bags in gift stores and supermarkets in Tonga – see The Guide to Food Shopping in Tonga to learn more.
6. Niu (Drinking Coconut)
You can hardly do fresher than drinking water straight from the coconut! Many cafes, bars and restaurants across the islands sell coconuts (niu) ready to drink with a straw, giving you a true tropical island experience. Don’t underestimate how much liquid those coconuts hold though; they’re definitely not something you can drink in a hurry!
7. Pure Nonu Juice (Noni)
Not particularly drunk for its taste, nonu juice is said to have all sorts of health benefits. Nonu juice, with juice derived from the noni fruit known for its unappealing smell, is admittedly harsh on the palette. Nevertheless, Ene’io Naturals at the Ene’io Botanical Garden on Vava’u produces a range of pure nonu juice drinks as a dietary supplement to provide a “mixture of essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes and trace elements”. Learn more about the Ene’io Botanical Garden in the 15 Best Foodie Experiences in Tonga.
8. Tropical Cocktails
Being a tropical island nation where tropical fruit is available in abundance, Tonga is a place where cocktails are extremely well-done! You’ll find cocktail menus in just about any bar, restaurant or resort where fresh fruit is usually a keen component of the drink, as well as a bit of alcohol, of course! Check out The Ultimate Guide to Nightlife in Tonga for places to try your Pina Colada.
9. Tropical Fruit Smoothie
In the same vein as above, the abundance of tropical fruit available on the islands all year round makes Tonga a place where tropical smoothies are done oh so well. Juicers and smoothies feature on most drinks menus, but a juice bar we can’t help but recommend is Moli Green Cafe in Nuku’alofa – find out more in 20 Best Restaurants in Tonga.
Check out some of the fruit grown in Tonga the 10 Exotic Fruits in Tonga You Have to Try!
10. Maka (Lion New Zealand)
Available across The Kingdom in glass beer bottles, Maka is sold as the “Friendly Islands Lager”. The dirty little secret, however, is that Maka is actually produced in New Zealand by Lion New Zealand. Nevertheless, the light lager with a cute depiction of Tonga’s Ha’amonga ‘a Maui (see 10 Best Historical Sites) on the label might just be your best friend after a hot day in the sun.
More About Drinks in Tonga
That’s it for our list of the drinks in Tonga you have to try! For more tasty goodness, check out more of our insightful guides:
- 10 Unique Foods in Tonga You Have to Try
- 20 Best Restaurants in Tonga
- The Guide to the Food in Tonga