Family-Friendly 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 logistic of a Ha’apai holiday is 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 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 from a whale watching tour. Join one of the whale swimming or watching operators to see whales swimming to the water’s surface, often sometimes breaching and splashing their enormous flukes into the water! Alternatively, you’re often lucky enough to see whales from shore! See the 5 Best Whale Swim Tours in Ha’apai to compare operators.
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 Fanifo Lofa, 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 Fanifo Lofa has beautiful snorkelling right by the beach. Sea Change Eco Retreat also offers snorkelling boat tours some of the must-visit outer reefs, best done with older children who are confident swimmers.
3. Go on a Family Mission in a Kayak or Paddleboard
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 hire is a staple at most resorts in Ha’apai, where hire is either free or at least around TOP$20 a day, while paddleboarding is available at Fanifo Lofa, Sea Change Eco Retreat and Matafonua Lodge. Plus, this activity is one of the 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do in Ha’apai.
4. Learn How to do Tongan Crafts with Local Villagers
Something educational and fun for the whole family, Tongan crafting lessons and cultural tours are a great addition to a family getaway. Some of the Ha’apai resorts offer guests the opportunity to have a hands-on experience, weaving baskets or fans or learning how tapa-cloth is made. Matafonua Lodge offers cultural day trips where you’ll hop on a boat to a nearby village to see handicraft demonstrations, listen to beautiful singing from the local school children, and indulge in an island feast. Learn more about the culture of Tonga here.
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! Some resorts, such as Matafonua Lodge work with local communities to offer bareback (island style) horse riding through tropical forest, along the beach and even paddling through the ocean.
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 Matafonua Lodge. 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!
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. Either go out on your own or join your resort’s guided walk where a local guide will be able to tell you more about what you find.
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 7 Best Family Accommodation in Ha’apai have fantastic beaches.
9. Check Out the Historical Sites
The Ha’apai Islands have a colourful history of villages dating back 3,000 years, Captain Cook narrowly escaping being dinner, and the islands were the first to adopt Christianity in Tonga. In Pangai, 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 (there is a cafe in town named after him). You’ll also be able to see intriguing archaeological sites in the village of Hihifo, such as Olovei Tomb and the Velata Mound Fortress. Some resorts, such as Taiana’s Place, Fanifo Lofa and Serenity Beaches Resort can point in the right direction of nearby historical sites.
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…