20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© TongaPocketGuide.com
20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids

21 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids

© TongaPocketGuide.com

Travel Advice for Families Visiting Tonga

Tonga is not your average family holiday. Forget kids’ clubs and all day every day by the pool. Tonga is a destination for the adventurous family who wants to discover a unique culture, breathtaking island landscapes and majestic marine wildlife. To help you along with your out-of-the-ordinary vacation, we’ve put together a few essential tips for your Tonga vacation with kids.

Before we go through the essential tips for travelling in Tonga with children, be sure to bookmark The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families and the 15 Things to Do in Tonga with Kids for more holiday inspiration!

Is Tonga Good for Kids?

Tonga is one of the most exciting places in the South Pacific to travel with children, especially if you’re looking for something different from the usual tourist hotspots of Fiji, Rarotonga, Bali, etc. Rather than staying in a superficial resort, a family trip to Tonga brings things back to basics, which not only makes for a more affordable holiday but delights all ages with a playground of natural attractions and genuine cultural experiences.

1. Book Early!

Tonga is possibly going to be one of the quietest holiday destinations you’ve been to – that’s the glory of it. However, families especially will still want to book their accommodation early due to the fact that almost all of the accommodations in Tonga are boutique, i.e. very small! Most resorts, guesthouses, villas, etc. usually have two to seven rooms and, among that, only one or two family rooms. Needless to say, family rooms get snapped up quickly, so try to book your family room as early as possible.

10 Essential Tips For Travelling To Tonga With Children(c) Pixabay

2. When Booking a Rental Car, Ask if Baby Seats are Available

Tonga has the perfect islands for a family road trip; you’re never stuck in the car for too long until you come across an amazing historical site or beach to explore. On the downside, baby and child seats are not mandatory in Tonga, so many vehicle rental companies either don’t provide them or only have a limited supply. If you need one, make sure to request one upon booking! To get more vehicle rental tips head to our guide, What You Need to Hire a Car in Tonga.

20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© TongaPocketGuide.com

3. Use Sunscreen and Insect Repellent That Will Protect Them; Not Hurt Them

High-factor sunscreen and precautions against mosquito bites are a must for children. However, mainstream sunscreens and insect repellents are renowned for their harmful chemicals on sensitive young skin – especially if used together. On top of that, it’s sure that you’ll be doing a bit of swimming in waters shared with fragile coral, so skin protection needs to be “reef safe” too. Check out some of our recommendations in 5 Best Natural Sunscreens for Kids & Babies and 10 Best Natural Mosquito Repellents for Tonga.

20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© Pexels

4. Pack Medication and a First Aid Kit

What’s a holiday without a few cuts and bruises? Be prepared for any minor injuries or illnesses by putting together an appropriate first aid kit for your family. When buying medication, check the dosage for children and ask a pharmacist if you are unsure of what you can give to your kids. Your medication kit should include a pain and fever reducer, such as ibuprofen and/or acetaminophen, steroid cream for itching, antihistamine for allergic reactions, cough and cold medicine for older children, and a regular first aid kit with plasters/band-aids, antiseptic cream, etc. Check out our recommendations in What Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for Tonga.

10 Essential Tips For Travelling To Tonga With Children(c) tongapocketguide.com

5. Pack Some Games

There’s always some downtime when travelling, from taking your flight to Tonga to perhaps travelling to one of Tonga’s amazing outer islands. Games are an essential boredom-buster while getting the whole family bonding. That’s what a holiday is all about! Needless to say, you’ll want to pack something that is travel-size. Some of our favourites are Uno and Connect 4 Grab & Go! You can also check out some board games (that are also fun for adults) on our sister website, NZPocketGuide.com’s 20 Best Travel Board Games.

10 Essential Tips For Travelling To Tonga With Children Credit Amazon(c) Amazon

6. Educate Them About Tonga

Tonga is your dream destination; not theirs, so be sure to teach them about Tonga and get them excited for their trip. There are fascinating things to learn, from the number of islands Tonga has to facts about amazing humpback whales. Speaking of which, we’ve put together 30 Fun Facts About Tonga for Kids. You can also pull out a map and show them where they’re going to go!

10 Essential Tips For Travelling To Tonga With Children(c) tongapocketguide.com

7. Stay Hydrated

With playing out in the sun possibly much more than usual, kids need to stay hydrated much more than usual! Tonga is one of those countries with questionable water, at least on visitors’ stomachs, so do remember to take precautions when it comes to drinking water in Tonga, as we outline in our guide, Is the Water Safe to Drink in Tonga? One of the easiest methods we’ve found for families on the go is water purification bottles, such as the Lifestraw Filter Bottle. Plus, they come in lots of child-friendly colours.

10 Essential Tips For Travelling To Tonga With Children(c) tongapocketguide.com

8. Bring Your Own Snorkel Gear and Lifejacket

Snorkelling and being out on the water is a huge part of anyone’s trip to Tonga. While snorkelling masks, snorkels, fins and lifejackets are standard on most tours in Tonga where you’ll need them, the same cannot be said for child-size snorkel gear and lifejackets. Ask the tour operators if they provide appropriate gear for children before you arrive in Tonga. If they don’t (or you don’t know which operators you’ll be using before you arrive), then it’s best to bring your own snorkelling gear and lifejackets for the kids. We like Stearns Child Lifejacket and TUSA Sport Snorkelling Gear. See more things to pack in The Complete Packing List for Tonga.

20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© Matafonua Lodge - Tonga Ministry of Tourism

9. Pick a Child-Friendly Accommodation

Sure, it’s an obvious one, but you’re going to not only pick an accommodation that has the layout which you prefer but also has things to do for the kids. That’s why resorts are so popular with families, usually providing plenty of entertainment between building sandcastles on the beach and having a place to snorkel and kayaks to hire (usually free of charge). Luckily, we’ve compiled the perfect list of the 20 Best Family Accommodations in Tonga.

10 Essential Tips For Travelling To Tonga With Children(c) tongapocketguide.com

10. Pick Child-Friendly Activities

It’s their holiday too, so be sure to pick activities that are suitable for your whole tribe. Most of the time, kids are happy to swim, snorkel and get dad to paddle them around in a kayak, but when you decide to get out and about as a family, pick tours and activities that all the family will be able to participate in and enjoy. Check out the 15 Best Things to Do in Tonga with Kids for inspiration.

20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© TongaPocketGuide.com

11. Assign Roles

It’s important to assign roles between parents or between the whole family before jetting off to Tonga. Who is going to be in charge of the food? Who is going to choose the activities? Who is going to book the activities? Who is going to handle the airport check-in while the other watches the kids? Communicate these roles early so you avoid hick-ups in Tonga, giving more time for everyone to enjoy themselves. Plus, assigning small roles to the children is a great way to teach responsibility.

20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© TongaPocketGuide.com

12. Don’t Rely on Babysitting and Kids’ Clubs

Ok, Tonga isn’t Fiji. At the time of writing, there are no kids’ clubs and babysitting services at resorts. Otherwise, Tonga is a destination best spent together as a family.

20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© TongaPocketGuide.com

13. Split Up for Some Activities

Ok, so there may be some experience that half the family aren’t too keen on, and that’s fine. Instead of booking spots (and paying the extra bucks) for tours for the whole family, make the decision to split, for example, mum and the kids or dad and one kid, etc. In the meantime, the rest of the family can do something else they’d rather do and, likely, make sure their travel budget is better spent!

20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© Tonga Ministry of Tourism

14. Don’t Try to Fit in Too Much

On the flip side, packing your itinerary to the brim with sights and activities is probably just going to exhaust everyone. Allow a free day or two in your holiday to relax and enjoy more the simple pleasures; a day by the pool or at the beach is plenty (and kids love hermit crab hunting)!

20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© TongaPocketGuide.com

15. Prepare for a Rainy Day (and for Sunday)

With a tropical climate and rain being a possibility no matter what time of the year you visit, it’s a good idea to have one or two rainy-day backups. There are some fantastic markets, all-weather cultural tours, caves with swimming pools, and much more. Head to the 15 Things to Do in Tonga on a Rainy Day for ideas!

Also on the subject, you’ll notice that Sundays are a little quieter in Tonga, so have a look at what attractions are open in the 10 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday.

20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© James Blackwood - Tonga Ministry of Tourism

16. Bring Baby Food and Snacks for the First Few Days (and for the Outer Islands)

If you’d rather jump into holiday mode than buy baby food or snacks for the family from the supermarket upon arrival, then bring a few snacks for the first couple of days in Tonga. You can bring food to Tonga as long as it’s commercially prepared and packaged and you generally avoid fresh fruit and vegetables – see Taking Food to Tonga: What You Need to Know. The same goes if staying at remote island resorts; take enough of these supplies with you.

On the subject, if there’s a particular brand of baby food that you want to stick to in order to avoid any stomach upsets, it’s best to bring it with you. Tonga has a few brands like Watties and SMA in the supermarkets.

20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© TongaPocketGuide.com

17. Kids’ Menus are Rare in Tonga

That’s right, kids’ menus are rarely available in Tonga’s cafes and restaurants, so you sometimes have to get quite creative with what younger kids can eat. Look out for “snack” or “entree” menus instead, which are usually good portions for kids. If push comes to shove, you can always just order them a side or share Tonga’s infamously huge portions!

Check out some of the best places to eat across the islands in the 20 Best Restaurants in Tonga.

10 Essential Tips For Travelling To Tonga With Children(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

18. Be Discreet When Breastfeeding in Public

Tonga is quite a conservative and religious country. With that in mind, it’s best to be discreet and respectful of the local culture when breastfeeding. Using a breastfeeding cloth is recommended when out in public or perhaps feeding at your accommodation will allow you to avoid some dirty looks, as some mothers have reported having while breastfeeding in public places.

For more cultural etiquette, take a look at Tongan Etiquette: Tonga Customs & Traditions.

20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© TongaPocketGuide.com

19. Pack a Baby Carrier and Waterproof Diapers

Although we have a full packing list in What to Pack for Tonga: A Full Tonga Packing List, those with infants will need to consider a couple of holiday extras. As mentioned, a core part of your Tonga family holiday is spending some time in the water so waterproof nappies/diapers are a must for the packing list! Normal nappies/diapers are usually quite limited in supermarkets or simply not available if travelling to remote island resorts. Don’t get caught out!

Additionally, a baby carrier is the way to go, as there are not many places that are stroller-friendly in Tonga.

20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© Unsplash

20. Rashies and Reef Shoes are Highly Recommended

For an extra piece of protection while spending so much time in the water, as well as to respect the local custom of being more “covered up” when swimming, we highly recommend that you get rashies (rash vest/swimming T-shirt) for younger ones that are more prone to sunburn, especially as sunscreen otherwise needs to be applied much more often when swimming (and no kid likes being pulled out of the water every couple of hours for a sunscreen slap-on). We like Sharkskin for their rapid-dry rashies which have SPF 50+ protection, come in fully recyclable packaging and are saltwater, chlorine and UV-resistant so can be used for many more holidays to come.

We also recommend packing some reef shoes to protect little feet when standing on rocks or bits of coral. Speedo Kids and Toddlers Water Shoes are a great choice for little ones.

20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© Tonga Ministry of Tourism

21. Make Sure Children are Up-to-Date with Their Immunisations

For children over five years old, make sure that they have up-to-date vaccinations. See your family doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip in order to discuss what vaccinations are needed, as it takes a few weeks for vaccinations to take effect. Check for yourself too, as adults need boosters for some vaccinations. See Do You Need Vaccines to Travel to Tonga? for more advice.

20 Tips for Your Family Tonga Vacation with Kids© Pixabay

More Essential Tips for Travelling to Tonga with Kids

That’s it for our tips for your family Tonga vacation with kids. For more insightful articles, take a look at the following:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families.


Robin (Lopini) C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before settling in the South Pacific, so he knows a thing or two about planning the perfect trip in this corner of the world. Robin works and consults regularly with the Ministry of Tourism of Tonga. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides and is a regular host of webinars with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.

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