Family Activities in Nuku’alofa
An interesting introduction to The Kingdom of Tonga lies in the capital, Nuku’alofa. Known as the “Abode of Love”, Nuku’alofa is a fantastic place to engage in the culture and history of the islands. When you’re not spending time on land, you can be out on the tropical waters taking part in snorkelling tours and whale watching excursions! Find out what else is amazing to do with the little ones in this list of things to do in Nuku’alofa with kids!
While you’re here, you might also be interested in The Guide to Nuku’alofa for Families.
1. Go on a Snorkelling Excursion
Discover Tonga’s amazing array of corals and tropical fish on a family-friendly snorkelling trip from Nuku’alofa. Snorkelling tours are in sheltered waters that are safe for even younger kids (as long as they know how to swim), usually alongside idyllic islands some 20-40-minutes off the shores of the city. All of the snorkelling gear will be provided, including a mask, snorkel and fins. So all you need to do is enjoy the boat journey and discover the amazing underwater world together as a family.
Location: Trips are available with Blue Water Explorer and Deep Blue Diving, departing from Faua Wharf.
2. Buy Presents at the Talamahu Market
Treat the little ones to some amazing gifts while having a cultural experience at the Talamahu Market. The arts and crafts covering every inch of this market building are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Kids can oggle at handmade woven clothes and baskets, hand-carved jewellery made from bones and wood, and awesome giant carvings of whales and warriors. Even the produce side of the market is fun to browse, with impressive stands of colourful tropical fruit and vegetables.
Location: Salote Road. Open Monday to Saturday, early morning to 4.30pm.
3. See the Whales Between July and October
Whale watching and swimming tours are available from Nuku’alofa between July and October. Whale swimming is a popular option with families of strong swimmers, as swimming is in the open water and involves a lot of getting on and off the boat. Those with younger kids can experience just as much excitement from the whale tour boats, watching the whales swimming to the surface, lifting their fluke up into the air, and even sometimes breaching! Learn more in The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga.
Location: There are several whale operators departing from Faua Wharf in the whale season, including Tuna Moana, Blue Water Explorer, Deep Blue Diving and Whale Swim Safaris.
4. Check Out the Royal Sights
The capital is home to a few interesting sights, where you can teach your kids more about the South Pacific’s only kingdom! As a bonus, it doesn’t take too long to see each sight. Check out the Royal Palace, a grand Victorian building where you can get the best views from the waterfront on the west side of the palace. The Royal Tombs is a large park-like area with an interpretation sign at the gates explaining more about the history of the monarchy in Tonga.
Location: Royal Palace, corner of Vaha’akolo and Vuna Road. Royal Tombs, seen from Meteialona Road, Vaha’akolo Road and Taufa’ahau Road.
5. Play and Have a Picnic at Popua Park
Head east along the waterfront of Nuku’alofa and you’ll find a great recreational area for families. Popua Park was once a dumping ground of the city, now transformed into a picturesque park with a waterway running through it alongside landscaped flower gardens. There’s a children’s playground, beach volleyball court, farm animals and plenty of picnic areas.
Location: Popua Park along Vuna Road, a 5-10-minute drive from the city centre.
6. Learn How to Do Tongan Crafts at Ancient Tonga
Tonga is a nation with a rich island culture, best experienced through captivating performances, arts and crafts seen across the island of Tongatapu (see The Guide to Tongatapu for Families for more information on these activities). Alternatively, a fantastic option within Nuku’alofa is Ancient Tonga! The cultural centre offers a wide range of tours revolving around Tongan arts, crafts, dance and food. It’s a great way to get the kids involved in a more hands-on learning experience! Find out more about Ancient Tonga on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Ancient Tonga, Tamakautonga Road
7. Go on a Nuku’alofa Sightseeing Tour
Enjoy the ease of being shown the highlights of the city while learning more about Nuku’alofa from a local guide on a sightseeing tour with Teta Tours and Travel. Their one-hour Nuku’alofa Tour is a great option for families, not taking too long, yet still action-packed! Join your local guide for a walk around the city, visiting the Royal Palace, Royal Tomb, the Talamahu Market and the Langafonua Handicrafts Market. Find out more about the tour on Viator and Tripadvisor.
8. Do a Day Trip Around Tongatapu
If you haven’t already, be sure to explore the greater area of Tongatapu! At only 260km2 (100 square miles), the island is easy enough to travel around in a day, either renting a car (see Things to Know About Car Rental in Tonga for tips) or taking a guided tour. Visit highlights like the limestone ‘Anahulu Caves, the Mapua ‘a Vaea Blowholes and scenic historic sites around the island, by following our advice in The Guide to Tongatapu for Families. Island tours are also available with Teta Tours and Travel (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), Tonga Travel Troupe (on Viator and Tripadvisor) and Tonga Holiday Villa (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
9. Have a Coffee While the Kids Play at a Playground at Tupu’Anga Cafe
For some downtime combined with a real Tongan foodie experience, head to Tupu’Anga Cafe. The cafe roasts its own coffee beans and is known across the island of Tongatapu for its irresistible manioke (cassava) chips! Treat yourself and kids to Tongan-inspired treats, such as cassava cake, pawpaw scones, lu pie and much more! There’s even a playground outside to keep the little ones entertained.
Location: At the south end of Umusi Road
10. Experience a Tongan Sunday
Ok, so children might be renowned for getting “bored” at church, but the experience might be a little different in Nuku’alofa… Sunday is an important day for Tongans, where most Tongans go to church and take part in grand masses full of harmonious singing and the playing of brass instruments. It’s quite the experience that is sure to leave the whole family in awe! Be sure to be dressed appropriately for church – check out the Guide to the Religions in Tonga to learn more about church etiquette.
Location: Churches to try include Centenary Church on Wellington Road, Centennial Church on the corner of Laifone and Hala Tu’i Roads, St Mary’s Cathedral on Vuna Road and St. Paul’s on the corner of Fatafehi Road and Wellington Road.