10 Things To Do in Ha’apai with Kids(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism
10 Things To Do in Ha’apai with Kids

10 Best Things to Do in Ha’apai with Kids

(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

The Top Family Activities in Ha’apai

Get the true South Seas experience in the secluded islands of the Ha’apai Group. The island group in the centre of Tonga is often missed by tourists, despite it being home to some of Tonga’s dreamiest beachfront resorts, boutique lodges and “fales”. For families, the logistics of a Ha’apai holiday are easy once you get settled in one of the family-friendly resorts where meals, accommodation, relaxation and activities can all be organised for you to enjoy doing as much or as little as you like. Find out what those activities could entail in this list of the best things to do in Ha’apai with kids!

While you’re here, you might also be interested in The Guide to Ha’apai for Families.

1. Watch Whales from Shore or a Whale Watching Tour

Ha’apai is one of the island groups offering amazing whale sightings in Tonga between July and October. While whale swimming is available on the island, this is best suited for families of strong swimmers. A more family-friendly whale encounter is watching these majestic creatures on a whale-watching tour. Join one of the whale swimming/watching operators to see whales swimming to the surface, often breaching and splashing their enormous flukes! Alternatively, you’re often lucky enough to see whales from shore.

Location: All over Ha’apai! See the 5 Best Whale Swim Tours in Ha’apai to compare operators.

10 Things to Do in Ha'apai with Kids© TongaPocketGuide.com

2. Check Out the Tropical Fish by Snorkelling From Your Resort

Many of Ha’apai’s resorts offer amazing snorkelling straight from the beach! Make use of the free snorkelling masks and snorkels from resorts, such as at Kitesurf Tonga, Serenity Beaches Resort, Sea Change Eco Retreat and Matafonua Lodge. Then, head out as a family to explore the coral bommies and tropical fish in Ha’apai’s crystal clear waters. For instance, Matafonua Lodge has its own “House Reef” in a shallow lagoon ideal for safe swimming with the kids, whereas Kitesurf Tonga has beautiful snorkelling right by the beach. Sea Change Eco Retreat also offers snorkelling boat tours to some of the must-visit outer reefs, best done with older children who are confident swimmers.

Location: All over Ha’apai! See The Best Snorkelling in Ha’apai: 6 Best Places to Snorkel for specific locations.

10 Things To Do in Ha’apai with Kids(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

3. Go On a Family Mission in a Kayak

Another way to get out on the water with even the younger children is by hiring a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard. Teach your kids how to paddle on the safety of Ha’apai’s tranquil waters, while looking at the amazing marine life seen through the clear water. Younger kids can couple up with mum or dad easily on a paddleboard or kayak. Kayak and SUP hire is a staple at most resorts in Ha’apai. Plus, this activity is one of the 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do in Ha’apai!

Location: All over Ha’apai! See a list of resorts with kayaks in The Guide to Kayaking in Tonga and SUP boards in The Guide to Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Tonga.

10 Things To Do in Ha’apai with Kids(c) tongapocketguide.com

4. Experience an Umu and Tongan Floor Show

Nothing captivates the kids (and arguably Mum and Dad too) more than watching Tongan men perform a warrior’s dance or women gracefully using their hands to tell a story! Just a small part of a Tongan floor show and umu night, these evening shows include an array of cultural dances, as well as the opportunity to sample authentic Tongan cuisine prepared in an underground oven known as an “umu”. And in true Tongan spirit, you will be encouraged to eat more than is reasonable although there are usually a few Western favourites should you have fussy eaters in your tribe. Catch a floor show at Sandy Beach Resort (outside guests welcome), once a week during the peak season.

Location: Sandy Beach Resort, Foa Island. Check out all floor shows available in Ha’apai in The Best Cultural Shows in Tonga.

10 Things to Do in Ha'apai with Kids© TongaPocketGuide.com

5. Explore the Islands on Horseback

What kid doesn’t love animal encounters? Horse riding is a part of everyday life in Ha’apai where horses are still used on the islands as a form of transport! Matafonua Lodge offers guests, including children, the opportunity to for an island-style horse trek (i.e. bareback) or they have saddles if you prefer. Embark on a journey through tropical forests or across sandy beaches, even taking your horse for a swim. Learn more about the experience in The Guide to Horse Riding in Tonga.

Location: Trips depart from Sandy Beach Resort and Matafonua Lodge, north of Foa Island.

10 Things To Do in Ha’apai with Kids(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

6. Head Out on a Family Fishing Trip

Nothing compares to the excitement of catching your first fish! Treat the whole family to a morning out on the water with Sea Change Eco Retreat. They have all the gear for trolling for game fish, such as mahimahi, tuna and wahoo. Alternatively, they can take you reef fishing, where the kids can try their luck at the small reef fish while mum and dad can try reeling in a giant trevally! Note that fishing charters at Sea Change tend to only be available in May and June.

Location: Sea Change Eco Resort, Uoleva Island.

10 Things to Do in Ha'apai with Kids© TongaPocketGuide.com

7. Do Some Reef Walking

Exploring the tidal pools is a fun and safe way for families to check out some of the fascinating marine life living around the Ha’apai islands. The best time to walk the reefs is at low tide. Don your reef shoes and go looking for nudibranchs, crabs and much more. Head to the eastern side of Houmale’eia Beach (Matafonua Beach) and you can see some ancient petroglyphs carved into the flat rock.

Location: All over Ha’apai, but some recommendations are Hulu’i Paongo Point, south end of Lifuka, and Houmale’eia Beach (Matafonua), north end of Foa Island.

10 Things to Do in Ha'apai with Kids© TongaPocketGuide.com

8. Build Sandcastles on the Beach

Ok, this might seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to let the kids (and yourself) enjoy some downtime. With Ha’apai being home to some of Tonga’s best beaches, you won’t have trouble finding somewhere to build some sandcastles and dip your feet in the water. All of the beach resorts listed in the 5 Best Family Accommodations in Ha’apai have fantastic beaches.

Location: All over Ha’apai!

10 Things To Do in Ha’apai with Kids(c) Pixabay

9. Check Out the Historical Sites

The Ha’apai Islands have a colourful history of villages dating back 3,000 years, Captain Cook narrowly escaped being dinner, and the islands were the first to adopt Christianity in Tonga. Just north of the airport runway, check out the Monument to the Port au Prince Massacre where you’ll be able to learn a little more about the ransacked ship and the 15-year-old William Mariner who ended up living on the island with the locals. You’ll also be able to see intriguing archaeological sites in the village of Hihifo, such as the Olovei Tomb and the Velata Mound Fortress.

Location: All over Ha’apai! See some examples and their locations in the 8 Best Historical Sites in Ha’apai.

10 Things to Do in Ha'apai with Kids© TongaPocketGuide.com

10. Drink from a Coconut

A simple thing that brings a lot of pleasure is drinking from a coconut! It’s a truly tropical experience where resort staff are usually more than happy to grab kids a coconut and show them how to open it to have a drink! Alternatively, it’s always hilarious to watch kids try and open a coconut themselves… For more classic Tongan beverages to sample, check out the 10 Drinks in Tonga You Have to Try.

Location: Anywhere in Ha’apai!

10 Things to Do in Ha'apai with Kids© TongaPocketGuide.com

More Things to Do in Ha’apai with Kids

That’s it for the best things to do in Ha’apai with kids, but that’s not to say that we’re done with all of the things to do in Ha’apai! Check out the lists below to complete your bucket list:

Finally, get even more inspiration for your family getaway with The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families and the 10 Things to Do in Tonga with Kids.


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.

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