What are the Drinks 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 drinks, from narcotic drinks that have been ingrained in the Tongan culture for centuries to punchy coffees made from coffee beans grown on the islands. Beers, tropical fruit drinks, cocktails, coconut water… It is all done well and produced with passion in the islands. All you have to do is try them for yourself! See some of our recommended drinks in this list of the drinks in Tonga you have to try!
And to accompany your drinks, be sure to try the 6 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. Kava is a narcotic drink, which is typically only drunk by men in kava circles or a kalapu (club). For visitors, it’s possible to try kava in some resorts in Tonga that put on kava nights. Otherwise, you will need to ask locally for kava circles. Learn more about the Tongan culture in The Guide to the Tongan Culture.
2. Tonga Lager
If you’re looking for a local beer, then keep an eye out for Tonga Lager. The lager is produced by Tonga Breweries based in Maufanga in Nuku’alofa. They also produce other famous lagers you may see served in bars throughout the kingdom, such as Ikale Lager.
A refreshing drink that’s popular across the South Pacific, ‘Otai is a refreshing fruit drink usually accompanying large meals. A common ‘Otai recipe is blending water with shredded coconut flesh and a mix of watermelon, mango and pineapple, watermelon being the fruit most commonly used fruit in Tonga. Traditionally, the drink was made with fekika, a mountain apple, before watermelon was introduced to Tonga.
4. Maui Pacific Larger
One of the most recognisable beers across the islands of Tonga, Maui Pacific Larger is a local favourite crafted by the Pacific Brewing Co. You’ll find Maui and its similarly tasting TIKI Pale Ale served on tap and in bottles in bars, restaurants and resorts across the kingdom. Check out some of the bars where you can try Tongan beers in the 5 Best Bars in Nuku’alofa.
5. 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 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. Learn more about visiting the cafe in 8 Things to Do in Nuku’alofa for Foodies.
6. Coconut Water
You can hardly do fresher than drinking water straight from the coconut! Many cafes, bars and restaurants across the islands sell coconuts ready to drink straight from with a straw, giving you a true tropical island experience. Don’t underestimate how much liquid those coconuts hold though, as they’re definitely not something you can drink in a hurry!
7. 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 across Tongatapu, 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.
8. Pulotu Coconut Stout
For a real craft beer experience, try this other beer made by the Pacific Brewing Co! Pulotu Coconut Stout is your darker beer with strong coffee and barley components. The stout can be tried on tap or in the bottle at various bars across the islands.
9. 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 Gardens in the 7 Things to Do in Vava’u for Foodies.
10. 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!