Budget Activities in ‘Eua Island
‘Eua might be Tonga’s oldest island but it still feels undiscovered with large tracts of rainforest full of bird song, rugged cliffs left to form incredible archways and beaches, and small communities with many unchanged traditions. With that, ‘Eua has a feeling of locals keen to share their island with you than overcharging for tours, so you’ll find many of the experiences here cheap and sometimes even free! We’ll go through just a few examples worth talking about in this list of free and cheap things to do in ‘Eua!
While you’re here, you might also be interested in The Guide to ‘Eua on a Budget.
1. Go on a Self-Guided Hike
Hiking is the number one thing to do in ‘Eua, so let’s start with one of the cheapest versions of hiking on the island which is the self-guided walks. Most accommodation providers offer affordable transport to well-marked hiking trails, along with maps/information on where to go. Popular self-guided walks include the Forest Plantation Hike, taking you through a lush forest of varying tree species to lookouts over the ‘Eua National Park, and the Rock Garden Hike with amazing rock formations, cliffs and a natural archway. These walks are a good option on a Sunday when most other activities are unavailable.
Location: Learn more about walks and their locations in the 5 Best Hikes in ‘Eua.
2. Do a Guided Hike Through the ‘Eua National Park
Alternative to self-guided walks, guided walks take adventurous travellers to amazing locations across ‘Eua that require some local knowledge. What’s more, most guided walks are extremely affordable, especially with The Hideaway and Taina’s Place where local guides are less than TOP$100 to hire. Epic guided hikes include the Lokupo Beach Hike through the verdant ‘Eua National Park and the Fangatave Beach and Caves Hike taking you to around 11 amazing limestone caves on the way down to a secluded beach.
Location: East side of ‘Eua. Find out more about both hikes in the 5 Best Hikes in ‘Eua.
3. Jump on a 4WD Tour
You don’t have to walk your legs off to enjoy the sights of ‘Eua. Almost all of the accommodations on the island offer their own 4WD tours, taking you to most of the major highlights within a day. Many trips check out sights like the famous ‘Ovava Tree, the Rock Garden and Lakufa’anga Cliffs, the Li’angahuo ‘a Maui natural archway, the Matalanga ‘a Maui sinkhole, secluded beaches and snorkelling spots. Tours cost approximately TOP$70-85.
Location: 4WD tours are available from The Hideaway, Taina’s Place, Blue Water Retreat and Seta Homestay
4. Go Horse Trekking on the Beach
‘Eua might be known for its wild horses, but at least some are tame to provide a unique way to explore the island. Horse riding is an affordable experience, costing approximately TOP$15 for a half-day hire or TOP$30 for a full day to hire independently if you know how to ride a horse. Rates will be a little more expensive with a guide, which is a good option for inexperienced riders. Either way, there are many quiet roads and dirt tracks to enjoy exploring the island on horseback, a popular choice being from the village of ‘Ohonua riding down to ‘Ufilei Beach for a beach ride.
Location: Available from Taina’s Place, The Hideaway and Blue Water Retreat.
5. Do Some Bird-Watching
‘Eua is renowned for its wealth of birdlife, the icon of the island being the red shining parrot, locally known as a “koki”. Other bird species encountered include noddies, white-tailed birds, swiftlets and Pacific pigeons. Watching birdlife is particularly good in the ‘Eua National Park of the east side of the island, as well as the south coast of the island where the seabird population is especially vibrant in the Lakufa’anga Cliffs area. Also lookout for the native fruitbats, known as “peka”.
Location: ‘Eua National Park and south coast of ‘Eua.
6. Spot Whales from the Shore
Between July and October, humpback whales from the Antarctic make an amazing migration to the warm waters of Tonga to mate and calve. While there are some spectacular whale watching and whale swimming experiences from ‘Eua, it is possible to enjoy the view of whales breaching and diving from the shores of ‘Eua, free of charge! Accommodation and beaches between ‘Ohonua and Tufuvai on the west side have a prime position for watching whales on the horizon. Otherwise, the national park lookouts, such as Lokupo Lookout and Laua Lookout, also provide excellent views of whales on their migratory path as you look out to the world’s second-largest ocean trench. Learn more about the whale experiences in ‘Eua in The Best Whale Tours in ‘Eua.
Location: Between ‘Ohonua and Tufuvai on the west coast and from the lookouts in the ‘Eua National Park on the east coast.
7. Learn Tongan Arts, Crafts and Dance
‘Eua island has a rich island culture, where traditional arts, crafts and dance are a part of everyday life. Immerse into the Tongan way of life through cultural classes, from weaving to tapa cloth-making to traditional Tongan dancing. Classes are offered by the local villagers and organised through accommodations on the island, often for a very small fee. It’s also a fun activity to do in ‘Eua if you’re travelling with kids.
Location: All over ‘Eua, inquire with your accommodation.
8. Go to Church on a Sunday
Aside from doing self-guided hikes on a Sunday, budget travellers can also experience an integral part of the Tongan culture in a Sunday church service. The main reason to do this is to experience the heavenly singing of the church choirs flowing through the villages. Services usually take place in the morning around 9am/10am and in the afternoon around 3pm/4pm. Visitors of any religion are welcome (for free) to experience a service for themselves.
Location: Ask at your accommodation for the nearest church. A good one to visit is the Free Wesleyan Church of Pangai ‘Eua.
9. Go to the Weekend Disco
While Sunday might be the day of rest, it’s certainly Ok to party on a Friday and Saturday at the Maxi Disco in Futu Village. The disco is run by the hosts at Taina’s Place, so if you’re staying there, let them know you want to go and they’ll take you. It’s a light-hearted island-style disco with refreshing drinks and ice cream. Entry is under TOP$5.
Location: Futu Village
10. Experience an Umu
An umu is a traditional method of cooking in Tonga using an underground oven to slow-cook root crops and meat. Umu are mostly saved for Sundays and special occasions, with accommodations like The Hideaway and Taina’s Place offering their own Sunday night umu for around TOP$30. The affair usually also includes a spit-road pig – a Tongan favourite!
Location: The Hideaway and Taina’ Place