10 Best Hidden Gems in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com
10 Best Hidden Gems in Tonga

10 Best Hidden Gems in Tonga

© TongaPocketGuide.com

The Secret Places of Tonga

Admittedly, Tonga is already a hidden gem in itself. However, you can easily get further off the tourist trail by simply leaving the hotspots like Tongatapu, Neiafu and Lifuka and exploring elsewhere. Regardless, we all need a place to start when looking for authenticity and ultimate serenity, so take a look at our list of the hidden gems in Tonga!

1. Matalanga ‘a Maui and Fele’oko ‘a Maui (‘Eua)

Despite being a mere 7-minute flight from Tongatapu, ‘Eua is still a much lesser-visited island in Tonga. On top of that, the natural wonders of this island are seemingly endless – even we haven’t visited every cave, beach and sinkhole this ancient island has to offer. Some hidden gems that we can confirm exist are the neighbouring Matalanga ‘a Maui and Fele’oko ‘a Maui. Not on any of the guide maps, nor signposted from the main road, these natural attractions from the legendary Maui are said to be the remains of the origins of ‘Eua. Matalanga ‘a Maui is a huge sinkhole nestled in the forest, while Fele’oko ‘a Maui is a beautiful cave awash in sparkling stalactites and columns. Note that there are no established trails to these sights, so they should only be attempted by those who are able to climb and scramble.

Location: The next left after the sign and intersection to other east coast attractions (Lokupo Lookout, ‘Ana ‘Ahu, etc.) on ‘Eua. These walks are guided only.

10 Places That are Off the Beaten Track in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

2. ‘Eueiki Island (Vava’u)

Vava’u is home to several islands with nothing but boutique resorts and nature, proving for a real off-the-beaten-track experience. ‘Eueiki is one such island where you can stay at the Treasure Island Eco Resort. Stay in one of the traditionally thatched fales, snorkel or swim with whales from the resort’s outrigger, or enjoy the serenity of this otherwise uninhabited island. Discover more islands like this in the 10 Less-Travelled Islands of Tonga.

Location: Eueiki, southwestern Vava’u.

10 Places That are Off the Beaten Track in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

3. Kilikilitefua Wall (Vava’u)

One of the sights often missed on sightseeing tours of Vava’u, Kilikilitefua Wall is a historical census for the royal family which started around 400 years ago when rocks began to be placed for each member of the family. There were so many volcanic rocks placed here that it made an entire wall (but not quite like that one seen from space). It is said that the wall was a lot bigger before residents at some point started taking stones for their own construction projects… Check out more sites like this in the 10 Best Historical Sites in Tonga.

Location: South of Makave village, ‘Utu Vava’u, Vava’u. From Makave Free Wesleyan Church, follow the road south and keep left at the fork. Continue on this road for approximately 400 m (440 yards) and Kilikilitefua Wall is on your left.

10 Best Hidden Gems in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

4. Hina Cave (Tongatapu)

While caves like ‘Anahulu and Swallows Cave take the limelight in Tonga, caves like Hina Cave are often blissfully uncrowded yet still a cool attraction to discover. Found on the private beach of the Oholei Beach Resort, the large cave with an opening in the ceiling has a rocky silhouette of Hina laid to rest while still waiting for her lover to return. Take some time to relax on the stunning beach while you’re there. At the time of writing, the beach and cave are free to visit but a small fee may be introduced when the resort reopens its accommodation. Check out more caves across The Kingdom in the 10 Best Caves in Tonga.

Location: Oholei Beach Resort, well signposted from Lavengatonga, east side of Tongatapu.

10 Best Hidden Gems in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

5. Tupou College and Toloa Forest (Tongatapu)

Unlike most tourist attractions on Tongatapu, the complex of Tupou College is not obviously signposted and therefore, is often missed. Driving around the complex of Tonga’s oldest high school offers a few interesting sights between the central Moulton Memorial Chapel, the Tuku’aho Museum and the Toloa Forest Reserve. The latter has a network of nature trails through one of Tongatapu’s largest tracts of remaining original rainforest.

Location: Toloa Road, Tupou College Grounds, Toloa, east side of Tongatapu.

10 Best Hidden Gems in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

6. Tina’s Workshop (Tongatapu)

Rather an activity than an attraction, Tina’s Workshop is a three-hour handicraft workshop to make your own Tongan sei (flower hairpiece) or tapa notebook! Immerse in the local culture, learn a new skill and meet interesting locals and travellers alike in this underrated workshop. The experience typically includes a traditionally cooked umu lunch, which you’ll watch being prepared at the beginning of the workshop, and then get to enjoy later. Learn more about the experience in Where to Learn Tongan Handicrafts.

Location: Fehoko Oceanic Arts Studio, Tamakautonga Road, Popua, Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu.

10 Best Hidden Gems in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

7. Leleno ki Moana (Ha’apai)

We’re not sure how long this place is going to remain a secret, but nobody would suspect that there’s a restaurant nestled among beachfront coconut palms in the southern reaches of Lifuka Island. Ha’apai might not have many restaurants, but one of the best in Tonga, Leleno ki Moana, awaits to sustain for those in the know. Delight in fresh fish and chips, beasty burgers, aromatic curries, Tongan dishes and more, all lovingly presented on timber boards and banana leaves. You’ll hardly get a more island vibe! See more must-visit eateries in the 20 Best Restaurants in Tonga.

Location: Hala Holopeka Road, Hihifo (approximately 400 m/440 yards down the dirt road at the end of Hihifo villages), Lifuka Island, Ha’apai.

10 Best Hidden Gems in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

8. Niuatoputapu (The Niuas)

Only the truly intrepid make their way to the far-flung islands of The Niuas, the largest island of which is Niuatoputapu. It’s a place that hasn’t rushed to develop with the changes of modern-day life, where fishermen go out in the fishing boats every day and inhabitants live in simple fales. There’s a flight once every week, giving visitors enough time to experience getting “stranded” in the true South Pacific. Learn more about the island in The Complete Guide to The Niuas.

Location: Niuatoputapu, The Niuas, north Tonga.

10 Places that are Off the Beaten Track in Tonga(c) Eunice Pongipongi

9. Tokopuha Folokotoa (‘Eua)

A little hard to find but perhaps one of the most fascinatingly eerie historical sites on ‘Eua, Tokopuha Folokotoa is a coffin-shaped hole within the rock pools of Tufuvai Beach. Legend had it that during the time of ‘Eua’s legendary warrior Kaufana and his two brothers Talimalolo and Faivalava, only members of the royal families were allowed to be buried on land. As for the rest of ‘Eua’s residents, their bodies would be placed in this crack in the reef floor and sink to the bottom. Needless to say, later generations abolished the practice.

Location: Tufuvai Beach, in the rock pools directly in front of the southern end of Blue Water Retreat, west coast of ‘Eua. Best accessed at low tide.

10 Best Hidden Gems in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

10. Kao Island (Ha’apai)

Hidden in plain sight, not many travellers realise that you can take a boat from the main island of Ha’apai to the highest island in Tonga. The 1,030 m (3,379 ft) stratovolcano, Kao Island can be reached on boat excursions with some resorts and locals. It’s a tough hike to the top, but the views are worth the effort.

Location: Boat charters to Kao Island depart from the jetty just south of the Visitor Information Centre, Pangai, Lifuka Island, Ha’apai. Inquire about organising a return boat trip to the island at the Visitor Information Centre.

10 Best Hidden Gems in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

More Hidden Gems in Tonga

That’s it for the best hidden gems and secret spots in Tonga. For similar spots to discover, check out the following:

Finally, inspire yourself with more experiences with the 101 Best Things to Do in Tonga: The Ultimate List. Plus, get even more tips in The Complete Travel Guide to Tonga.


Laura (Lola) S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Tonga. She knows the islands inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Tonga’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

Was this article useful?