20 Essentials You NEED to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com
20 Essentials You NEED to Pack for Tonga

20 Essentials You NEED to Pack for Tonga

© TongaPocketGuide.com

Packing Essentials for Tonga

What are the things you can’t forget to pack for Tonga? You already know you need some sunglasses and probably a few pieces of undies, but what else are absolute essentials? Although we have a complete packing list in What to Pack for Tonga: A Full Tonga Packing List (which you absolutely need to browse through, by the way), there are some handy items and essentials that are worth talking about in detail. We go through them all in this list of the essentials to pack for Tonga!

1. Passport and Departure Flight Information

It’s kind of obvious, but a passport is certainly essential to enjoy a trip to Tonga! Make sure your passport is up-to-date and that it’s not going to expire within six months of your intended departure day – find out why in our Tonga Tourist Visa Guide. Plus, if you’re not from one of the 70+ countries on the visa-waiver list for Tonga, you might need to apply for an Entry Permit for Tonga.

One thing that’s not quite so obvious is that one of the entry requirements for Tonga is having a flight booked out of Tonga, whose details like the flight number and departure date you’ll need to provide on the Passenger Arrival Card. Oh, and you’ll need to also know the name of at least one of the accommodations you’ll be staying at while in Tonga, as you’ll need to supply that too. You’ll be surprised to find out how many people don’t know the name of where they’re staying!

More details on this can be found in What Documents Do I Need to Travel to Tonga? which also lists any other essential documents you need to prepare.

10 Essentials to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

2. Swimwear

The amount of water activities available in Tonga is countless! But you probably were already well aware that you need swimwear for Tonga. However, what you might not know is that Tonga is a conservative country, where it’s customary to wear shorts and a T-shirt/rash vest when swimming on public beaches or swimming holes. You might also want to consider more “stable” swimwear for certain watersports, such as whale swimming, kitesurfing, scuba diving, etc. For more tips on what clothes to pack, see What Clothes to Pack to Travel Tonga.

10 Essentials to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

3. Rashies (Rash Vest)

As mentioned, you’ll likely be spending a lot of time on the water, which is, quite frankly, hell to manage sun protection! Sunscreen needs to be reapplied pretty regularly (more on that below) and we’d rather spend more time snorkelling than getting out of the water for a sunscreen top-up. And your kids agree! So whether it’s to cover up to respect the local customs at a public beach or even for swimming at your resort, we strongly recommend adding a rash vest/rash guard/rashie to your packing list. 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.

10 Essentials to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

4. Snorkelling Gear

Snorkelling gear will be provided on whale swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving tours. However, for those who have their own, it’s always easier to just pop on a mask and snorkel that fits you well rather than struggling with rental gear. Additionally, some resorts and accommodations on the beach with amazing snorkelling don’t have snorkelling gear available to hire, so we always recommend bringing your own to Tonga! Our favourites are by TUSA Sport, as they are made with high-grade pure silicone and have a high-flow purge valve that makes clearing your snorkel a breeze. They do kids’ masks too!

10 Essentials to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

5. Tongan Pa’anga (Or Cash to Exchange for Tongan Pa’anga)

The official currency of Tonga, Tongan Pa’anga is essential to have available while visiting Tonga. Cash is by far the most accepted form of payment in Tonga. Meanwhile, any vendors that do accept credit/debit cards usually charge around 4% on the transaction! Therefore, you may want to bring some cash with you to exchange on arrival, then withdraw as much Tongan Pa’anga from local ATMs as you’re comfortable with throughout your trip.

For much more of a deep dive into the subject, check out What is the Best Way to Pay in Tonga?

10 Essentials to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

6. Reef-Safe Sunscreen

The sun is pretty glorious in Tonga, yet harsh on the skin with UV levels of around 5-12 on the UV index. Whatever time of year you come to Tonga, it’s essential to wear sunscreen. We don’t recommend just any old sunscreen though, as you’ll ideally want something water-resistant, kind on the skin, and kind on the fragile marine environment you’ll be encountering in Tonga. The perfect solution is water-resistant reef-safe sunscreen, which we list a whole bunch in 10 Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens for Tonga, as well as 5 Best Sunscreens for Kids & Babies. We recommend one full bottle per person for a 14-day holiday, as reef-safe sunscreen is rarely available to purchase in Tonga should you run out.

10 Essentials to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

7. Mosquito Repellent

In a country that’s prone to Dengue Fever and Chikungunya, having some mosquito repellent is absolutely essential for your trip to Tonga. Rare few resorts have mosquito control in place and while urban areas like Nuku’alofa aren’t quite as bad, it’s always a good idea to have some repellent with you. You’re bound to come across those annoying little buzzies sooner or later!

See our recommended repellents in the 10 Best Insect Repellents for Tonga and alternative mosquito control methods in the 10 Ways to Avoid Mosquito Bites in Tonga.

10 Essentials to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

8. Seasickness Pills

Even the hardiest sailor can get a gippy feeling in their stomach on the small tour boats in Tonga. With Tonga’s 170 islands and some amazing experiences on boats, like fishing or swimming with whales, you’ll be glad to have a few seasickness pills with you. Take a pill about an hour before getting on the boat and one on the boat if/when you start to feel unwell. See more medication to pack in What Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for Tonga.

10 Essentials to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

9. Purification Water Bottle

Staying properly hydrated in a less-developed tropical country is always a concern. You don’t always have access to facilities to boil water and buying bottled water is not only a strain on your bank account but also on the environment. The answer, we’ve found, is Lifestraw Bottles. They have a sophisticated filtration system that removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan, allowing you to drink tap water in Tonga safely. Check out more about water safety in Tonga in our guide, Can You Drink the Water in Tonga?

10 Essentials to Pack for Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

9. Your Medication

Don’t forget your meds! Although there is a very small selection of pharmacies in Tonga, you can’t guarantee that they’ll have what you need. For prescription medication, make sure you have a copy of your prescription, just in case they ask you about it at the border. As for everything else, get prepared with What Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for Tonga.

20 Essentials You NEED to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

10. Digital Copies of Your Travel Documents

And just in case you forget your flight bookings, lose your passport, or can’t remember the place where you are staying; make sure you have everything also as a digital copy that you can access even without the internet.

20 Essentials You NEED to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

11. Modest Clothing

With tropical temperatures all year round, it can be pretty tempting to just pack a singlet and a pair of short-shorts and be done with it. However, as we mentioned, Tonga is a conservative country. When going outside of your resort, it’s best to be respectful and cover your knees. An easy way of doing this is to pack a lavalava (sarong) in your day pack which you can easily slip on. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. There are plenty for sale in gift stores and markets in Tonga. Additionally, we recommend light fabrics such as sustainable bamboo by Moso Morrow that provide a good cover-up while keeping you cool (and looking great). Remember, it’s also illegal to go out in public topless (including for the guys), so have something to cover your top half too!

For more outfit advice, take a look at What to Wear in Tonga: Clothes Packing List.

10 Essentials to Pack for Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

12. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

Don’t assume your accommodation provides beach towels (sometimes even bath towels). Even if they do, a compact travel towel is much easier to carry around on boats or road trips to the beach than bulky beach towels. We always find a use for a quick-dry travel towel, which you can find at any outdoor store, but we like 4Monster Camping Towels that fold up nice and tight. For more nifty accessories like this, check out the 10 Travel Gadgets & Accessories for a Tropical Holiday.

20 Essentials You NEED to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

13. An Extra Layer

The islands that most people visit in Tonga are actually further away from the Equator than many other South Pacific Islands. Although still tropical, there are times when you’ll be glad to have a light cardigan, shirt or something to cover up, such as after your whale swim or while you’re enjoying evening drinks by the beach.

20 Essentials You NEED to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

Not Really Essentials But Highly Recommended …

14. Driver’s License

Planning on hiring a car? You absolutely need your overseas driver’s license. Most overseas driving licenses are accepted in Tonga otherwise, you’ll need to apply for a Tonga Visitor’s Driving License. Learn more about the requirements for renting vehicles in What You Need to Hire a Car in Tonga.

20 Essentials You NEED to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

15. Reef Shoes or Water Shoes

If you have them, they’re great to have in Tonga. Although the beaches are mainly sandy, there are broken bits of coral and rock that you will not want to stand on with exposed feet! A good pair to have are the unisex Mishansha Water Shoes while Speedo Kid’s and Toddler’s Water Shoes are great for little ones.

20 Essentials You NEED to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

16. Flip-Flops (Jandals)

Speaking of feet, with tropical temperatures, endless stretches of sand and probably a lot of time on your feet, you bet that flip-flops (or “jandals” if you’re Kiwi or “thongs” if you’re Australian) are going to be the first thing you throw in your suitcase. Make sure you bring a pair that’s comfortable.

20 Essentials You NEED to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

17. Reusable Straw

With so many tropical drinks to try, between ‘otai, tropical fruit smoothies and cocktails, you’re bound to be offered plastic staws quite a few times in Tonga (yes, still). Proudly say no to the plastic straw by packing your own reusable straw! That way, you’ll be a responsible traveller by not contributing easily avoided plastic to the oceans. See some of our recommended straws, Scurry Reusable Metal Straw and the Dinostraw Silicone Travel Straw. For more eco-tips, check out the 30 Ways to Travel More Sustainably in Tonga.

10 Essentials to Pack for Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

18. School Stationery Supplies

Some of the accommodations in Tonga encourage guests to bring stationery to donate to the local schools. Ask your chosen accommodation whether they offer such programs. Or, if you know your guided tour includes a school visit, be sure to bring some school supplies along, such as pencils, pens, crayons, paper, etc, which will be most appreciated by local schools in need.

10 Essentials to Pack for Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

19. Travel Adapter

If you’re coming from a country that doesn’t use a Type 1 electrical socket then you’re going to need the appropriate travel adapter – not an essential for all but certainly an essential for some! Check out the 5 Best Travel Adapters for Tonga for recommendations and our guide, Tonga Electrical Outlets & Power Plugs to learn more about charging your devices on the islands.

20 Essentials You NEED to Pack for Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

20. Binoculars

With whales swimming offshore in the whale season, bats returning to roost at sunrise, and rare birds like the red shining parrot to spot in the forests, any nature-lover will be stoked to have a good pair of binoculars. Go for something lightweight and travel-friendly, though; you don’t want to be lugging weighty lenses around. Occer has always been our go-to for high-quality travel binoculars.

20 Essentials You NEED to Pack for Tonga© Unsplash

More Essentials to Pack for Tonga

That’s it for our list of essentials to pack for Tonga. For more on the packing list, make sure you scroll through the following guides:

Finally, get more essential tips for your holiday using the 30 Tips for Travelling in Tonga.


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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