What are the Tours You Must Do in Tonga?
Tonga is a little off the beaten track when it comes to tourism in the South Pacific, but those in the know understand that Tonga can provide some of the top experiences in a range of activities. We’re thinking whale swimming, sports fishing, scuba diving, culture tours and island hikes! Intrepid travellers will find some amazing tours in Tonga to help immerse in the culture, history and nature of these South Pacific islands. So what experiences can’t you miss? Check out our recommended must-do tours in Tonga in the list below!
1. Whale Swimming Tour
If you only know one thing about Tonga it’s probably the fact that you can do whale swimming there. That’s right, Tonga is one of the very few places in the world where you can legally swim with humpback whales – and what an experience it is! Words can barely describe the feeling of being in the water with these gentle giants. As it’s quite a unique experience that gives you a great appreciation for the ocean, swimming with whales in Tonga is definitely a must-do. To learn more about whale swimming, the whale season and how to pick an operator, take a look at The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga. Plus, check out our recommended whale tours in the 10 Best Whale Swim Tours in Tonga.
2. Island and Snorkelling Tour
Tonga is a nation of more than 170 islands, so it would be a shame to come all the way to this South Pacific paradise and only see one island. A great way to remedy that is to jump on an island and snorkelling tour, of which there are many options, especially in Vava’u and Tongatapu. You’ll head out on a boat and hit some of the best snorkelling spots at various outer reefs before heading to a few different uninhabited islands with stunning sandy shores, coconut palms and likely a few gliding seabirds too. Check out some of the best island tours in the 10 Best Day Cruises in Tonga.
3. Scuba Diving Tour
While humpback whales tend to take all the limelight in Tonga, there are actually hundreds of incredible marine species in Tonga’s waters, including turtles, sharks, all sorts of colourful reef fish, hard corals, softs corals, nudibranchs and more. What’s more, you can see some or all of this through vividly clear waters of rarely any less than 30m (100ft)! That’s not even mentioning the varied seascapes of caves, arches and tunnels. Dive into The Guide to Scuba Diving in Tonga to start planning your scuba diving tour in Tonga. Plus, take a look at our recommended scuba operators in the 9 Best Scuba Diving Tours in Tonga.
4. Tongan Culture Tour
Only in Tonga can you really immerse yourself in the Tongan culture. While simply engaging in the community through markets and church services is a good way to experience the Tongan culture, you can get a little deeper into the immersion with a Tongan culture tour. While, admittedly, culture tours are quite limited in Tonga, there is Ancient Tonga, which is an interactive tour about the food, medicine and handicrafts of Tonga. Find out more about Ancient Tonga on Viator and Tripadvisor. Alternatively, there is the Ha’ano Culture Tour in Ha’apai where you’ll be transported to an island village by boat to sample the Tongan way through handicraft demonstrations, cultural performances from school children, and indulging in a Tongan feast. Learn more in the 10 Best Ways to Experience the Tongan Culture and the 5 Best Village Tours in Tonga.
5. Island Sightseeing Tour
To see more of the historical and natural attractions on some of Tonga’s larger islands, an island sightseeing tour is an excellent way! Not only will you get some local insights to learn more about the places you’re visiting, but it’s often easier (and surprisingly cheaper) than visiting the places on your own. In Vava’u, you have a limited number of land tours, while Tongatapu is practically swimming in land tours to take you to the western side, the eastern side or everywhere on the island. In ‘Eua, the land tours are in 4WD vehicles to get to the rugged island’s hard-to-reach attractions. Check out the 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in Tonga to compare some tour.
6. Fishing Tour
Tonga’s surrounding waters are home to large pelagic fish and are renowned for their blue marlin fisheries. A fishing charter is an awesome way to experience the excitement of reeling in the monsters of the Pacific Ocean, whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned angler. There are fishing charters in most island groups, but Vava’u is the most popular place for fishing in Tonga. Check out our top picks in the 10 Best Fishing Charters in Tonga.
7. Guided Hiking Tour
The ruggedly beautiful island of ‘Eua is the place to go in Tonga if you want to immerse yourself in nature. One of the best ways to do that is to enjoy some hiking on the island. While there are a few options for self-guided hikes in ‘Eua, some of the best places are reached on guided hikes, such as delving into the ‘Eua National Park to visit breathtaking lookouts, caves and find remote beaches. Check out the 5 Best Hikes in ‘Eua to see which ones you need a guide for.
8. Botanical Garden Tour
On the main island of Vava’u, ‘Utu Vava’u, the Ene’io Botanical Garden is a stunning tract of forest and plants from Tonga and all around the world. Join your guide, Haniteli Fa’anunu, as he shows you his passion for nature in an informative nature tour. Learn the different uses for plants, smell beautiful aromas of vanilla and the not-so-beautiful aromas of the noni fruit, and even stay a little while longer to enjoy the beach and dining at the on-site restaurant. Learn more in the 5 Best Guided Tours of Vava’u.
9. Bird Watching Tour
The majority of Tonga’s land species are birds, including endemic species like the Tongan whistler and the extremely rare Tongan megapode. In Vava’u, you can take a bird watching tour to the protected sanctuary of Maninita Island, where around 19 species nest. Boat tours to the island with nature guides depart from Mounu Island Resort and Mandala Island Resort. Learn more about bird watching in the 5 Best Places for Bird Watching in Tonga.
10. Horse Riding Tour
In some of the more remote islands of Tonga, horse riding is simply a way to get around. Learn to ride a horse Tongan-style (i.e. bareback) on the island of ‘Eua or do a horse trek through traditional villages and along the beach on Foa Island in Ha’apai. Check out the 5 Best Places to Do Horse Riding in Tonga TTD362 for more information.