Tongatapu’s Most Upscale Tours and Activities
If you find luxury in discovering lesser-known islands and engaging in a rich culture, then you will love the island group of Tongatapu. Tonga’s southern island group, also known as the “Sacred South”, offers a wealth of premium cultural, natural and historical experiences. Swim with humpback whales, play golf on The Kingdom’s only golf course, see the sights on an exclusive private tour and more. We’ll go through all of the premium tours and activities in this list of the best luxury experiences on Tongatapu.
While you’re here, get more advice on luxury travel (and set your expectations right for the standards of “luxury” in Tonga) by taking a look at The Luxury Guide to Tongatapu.
1. Play at Tonga’s Only Golf Course
Want to tee off in every country in the world? Be sure to tick Tonga off the list at the Tonga Golf Club. The Tonga Golf Club provides a relaxing nine-hole golf course in an attractive park-like setting. This year-round golf course is the only one in the entire Kingdom. Learn more about the golf course in The Complete Guide to Golf in Tonga.
Location: Taufa’ahau Road, ‘Atele, central Tongatapu (south of Nuku’alofa).
2. Indulge in an Island Massage
Tonga is an incredibly relaxed country as it is, but the ambience can be heightened further with a relaxing island massage. Find glorious spas in Nuku’alofa where you can enjoy island-style treatments at Island Glow, for instance, or experience the skilled techniques of a Filipino head massage at Mia Hair and Beauty. Compare spas in our 5 Best Spas in Nuku’alofa & Tongatapu.
Location: Nuku’alofa – See the link above for recommendations and their locations.
3. Swim with Majestic Humpback Whales
A once-in-a-lifetime experience awaits in the waters of Tongatapu between July and October. Humpback whales take a remarkable journey from the Antarctic to Tonga to breed and calve. The warm, shallow and sheltered waters are the perfect conditions to swim with these amazing creatures on one of the whale swimming tours available from Nuku’alofa. For a more “premium” version of this experience, Tanoa Expeditions offers a full-day excursion with little luxuries like towels and sunscreen included. Be sure to compare all of the operators in the 5 Best Whale Tours from Nuku’alofa & Tongatapu.
Location: Tours depart from Faua Wharf, Nuku’alofa, central north coast of Tongatapu.
4. See the Sights of Tongatapu on a Private Tour
Tongatapu harbours an array of intriguing historical locations, amazing Royal sights, and breathtaking natural land formations. See them all and more on a private tour with Tonga Travel Troupe. This bespoke tour takes you to your bucket list attractions, whether it be the ancient Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon or the natural water displays of the Mapua ‘a Vaea Blowholes. The full-day tour allows you to stay at each attraction for as long or as little as you desire. There are plenty more island tour guides who will provide private tours on request, as listed in the 5 Best Guided Island Land Tours of Tongatapu.
Location: Accommodation transfers are available from anywhere on Tongatapu.
5. Shop for Unique Tongan Arts and Crafts…
Rest assured, you won’t have trouble finding unique art and fashion pieces on Tongatapu, especially in Nuku’alofa. Tonga is renowned for its arts and crafts made by talented craftspeople, with amazing tapa cloth paintings, carved jewellery, woven bags and baskets, woven fans and ornate carvings – all made from natural materials found around the islands. While Talamahu Market is a popular choice for shopping in Nuku’alofa, the Langafonua Handicraft Centre is a much more sophisticated affair with well-presented pieces handmade by local women’s groups. See more local designers and boutiques in The Guide to Shopping in Tonga + The Best Places to Shop.
Location: Talamahu Market – Salote Road. Langafonua Handicraft Centre – Taufa’ahau Road, Nuku’alofa city centre.
6. … Or Buy Tongan Crafts Fully Personalised
Once you inevitably fall in love with Tonga’s unique handicrafts, treat yourself to the extra special souvenir of a fully customised gift. For instance, commission a personalised photo frame of your travels from Pink Gator Designs or a shell/pearl/coconut necklace from Treasure Island. Learn more about these shops and more in Where to Buy the Best Souvenirs in Tonga.
Location: Pink Gator – Painituu’ua Road, Haveluloto, Nuku’alofa. Treasure Island – Upstairs of Talamahu Market, Salote Road, Nuku’alofa.
7. Dine at the Island’s Delectable Restaurants
“Fine dining” as you might know it doesn’t exactly exist in Tonga – it’s more of a casual dine-in experience with mouthwatering Tongan, European and Asian cuisine. The largest and most diverse choice of restaurants can be found in Nuku’alofa, with the more “luxurious” dining venues being Seaview Lodge & Restaurant, The TOP Restaurant & Lounge, Waterfront Lodge & Restaurant and Lunarossa Deli. Dining outside of Nuku’alofa usually means eating at one of the resorts with glorious views of the sunsets, for instance at Katea Retreat. Learn more about these restaurants and more in The Food Guide to Tongatapu: Places to Eat & Food Tours.
Location: All over Tongatapu (but mostly in Nuku’alofa). See the link above for the locations of our recommended eateries.
8. Scuba Dive at Coral Reefs and Caves
Tongatapu is home to some unique scuba diving and freediving experiences. Apart from hearing whale songs throughout Tongatapu’s waters between July and October, divers can experience diving among vibrant coral reefs with more than 170 fish species. Trips also depart from Nuku’alofa explore caves created by volcanic activity, coral reefs and enjoy the views from waters that are crystal clear most of the time. Note that scuba diving on Tongatapu is exclusively for certified divers with the operators mentioned in The Best Snorkel & Scuba Dive Tours in Tongatapu & Nuku’alofa. Famous sites around Nuku’alofa include the Cathedral and Tuna Caves, as well as others listed in the 10 Best Dive Sites in Tonga.
Location: Most scuba tours depart from Faua Wharf, Vuna Road, Nuku’alofa.
9. Embark on a Snorkelling Excursion to ‘Atata Island
After the 2022 tsunami, only a few select islands are available to access from Tongatapu. One such island is ‘Atata Island, a marine sanctuary that can be accessed on snorkelling tours with Deep Blue Diving. Snorkelling tours with Deep Blue include all the gear that you’ll need, including snorkel, masks, fins and a wetsuit, as well as snacks and a homemade cooked lunch in reusable containers (a rarity in Tonga). Learn more about why ‘Atata Island is one of the best places to snorkel from Nuku’alofa in the 5 Best Places to Snorkel in Tongatapu. Note that snorkelling tours only take place between November and June (in other words, outside of the whale season).
Location: Most scuba tours depart from Faua Wharf, Vuna Road, Nuku’alofa.
10. Take a Guided Tour of the Tonga National Museum
Although guided tours are free upon entry, that takes nothing away from the experience of being guided through the Tonga National Museum by a passionate local. Too many visitors miss this treasure trove of Tongan relics and pieces that showcase Tonga’s fascinating history (mainly because the museum is not easy to find). However, those who discover it usually get a sense that they’ve found something special. We can’t think of a more apt conclusion to this list of luxury experiences on Tongatapu.
Location: Upstairs in Queen Salote Memorial Hall, Taufa’ahau Road (opposite the Lulutai Airlines office), Nuku’alofa city centre, central north coast of Tongatapu.
More Luxury Experiences on Tongatapu
That’s it for our list of the best luxury experiences on Tongatapu. For more about planning a special trip to the islands, take a look at the following:
- 10 Most Luxurious Experiences in Tonga
- The Luxury Travel Guide to Tonga
- 50 Best Things to Do on Tongatapu