Activities in Nuku’alofa
How should you spend your time in the capital of Tonga? What are the sights, the experiences and the “must-dos”? Nuku’alofa is a city of royal palaces, majestic churches, bustling markets and the base for some of Tonga’s top water activities. Swimming with whales, snorkelling, scuba diving and fishing can all be done here. Or you could escape the decision-making and just get an island massage. Check out some of your options in this list of things to do in Nuku’alofa!
Need more inspiration? Be sure to check out The Complete Guide to Nuku’alofa.
1. Check Out the Talamahu Market
Well worth a look, the central Talamahu Market has an awesome array of arts and crafts filling just about every available space of this market building. See intricately woven baskets, Tongan clothing, tapa-cloth paintings, carved jewellery, carved ornaments and so much more, as you wander around this hub of culture. On top of that, the market has a huge fresh produce section, where visitors can admire the pyramids and woven baskets full of tropical produce! It’s one of the must-dos in Nuku’alofa!
Location: Salote Road
2. Swim With Humpback Whales
Available from July to October, snorkelling with majestic humpback whales is a beautiful experience. Witnessing these gentle giants, after they have made the 3,000 miles (4,850km) journey from Antarctica to calve and breed is humbling and unforgettable. Join one of the whale swimming tours from Nuku’alofa for a chance to swim with humpbacks, as well as visiting Tongatapu’s surrounding uninhabited islands for a picnic lunch.
Location: Trips depart from Faua Wharf, Vuna Road
3. Snorkel or Dive at Coral Reefs and Caves
The underwater world surrounding Tongatapu and Nuku’alofa is nothing short of impressive. Whether you’re a beginner or a certified diver, there are options to jump on the small-group dive boats and explore volcanic-formed underwater caves, coral reefs and even shipwrecks now teeming with life. Alternatively, snorkelling trips take out the hassle and expense of bulky gear, where snorkel operators take you by boat to coral reefs surrounding deserted islands. Snorkelling is one of the great 10 Things to Do in Nuku’alofa with Kids.
Learn more in The Best Snorkel & Scuba Dive Tours on Tongatapu
4. Take a Tour of Nuku’alofa and Tongatapu
If you haven’t already, be sure to explore Tongatapu! At only 260km2 (100 square miles), the island is easy enough to travel around in a day by either renting a car or taking a guided tour. Visit highlights like the limestone ‘Anahulu Caves, the Mapua ‘a Vaea Blowholes and scenic historic sites, by following our advice in The Complete Guide to Tongatapu. 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).
Find out more about each tour in 7 Best Island Day Trips from Nuku’alofa.
5. Browse the Langafonua Handicrafts Centre
Additional to the crafts market mentioned above, we recommend browsing the Langafonua Handicrafts Centre! All of the crafts are uniquely handcrafted by local women. Admire traditional tapa paintings, woven bags, carved Tongan jewellery, woven table mats, bowls, fans, coasters, wooden carvings and the list goes on and on! We also list this as one of the 7 Luxury Activities in Nuku’alofa.
Location: Taufa’ahau Road next to Friends Cafe
6. Take a Photo of the Royal Palace
Standing proud on the waterfront of Tonga’s capital, the Royal Palace is a symbol of Tonga’s monarchy to the rest of the world. With that in mind, you might as well get a good photo of it! Although the palace grounds are not open to visitors, you can get good views of its Victorian-style architecture from the waterfront grassy areas on the west and east side of the palace – better from the west side. Note that taking photos from the waterfront in front of the palace is forbidden. Plus, this activity is one of the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Nuku’alofa.
Location: Corner of Vaha’akolo and Vuna Road
7. Have a Foodie Experience at the Tupu’Anga Cafe
For some downtime combined with a 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 Tongan snack, manioke (cassava) chips! Treat yourself to Tongan-inspired treats, such as cassava cake, pawpaw scones, lu pie and much more! Tours of the factory are also available, while there’s also a children’s playground should you be travelling with youngsters. See more experiences like this in the 8 Things to Do in Nuku’alofa for Foodies.
Location: At the south end of Umusi Road
8. Drink and Be Merry at the Waterfront Bars
Meet the super-friendly locals and relax with your mates in one of Nuku’alofa’s vibrant watering holes. Nuku’alofa has a fun bar scene where you can try Tongan beers, refreshing cocktails and fresh coconut water. Some of your choices include dancing the night away at the city-centre Reload Bar or listening to live music and watch the sun go down from the Vuna Restaurant & Bar. Or how about enjoying the nautical theme and dancing at Nauti Ruby’s Bar? It’s one of the 5 Adult-Only Activities in Nuku’alofa.
Learn more about each bar and more in 5 Best Bars in Nuku’alofa.
9. Catch Big Game on a Fishing Charter
Join in on the excitement of sports fishing in Tonga from Nuku’alofa on a fishing charter! Highly-sought game fish like mahimahi, wahoo, dogtooth tuna and giant trevally can be found at the seamounts off Nuku’alofa. For instance, Blue Water Explorer offers sports fishing and spearfishing from their custom-built charter vessels for 4-8 guests. Alternatively, Deep Blue Diving also offers exciting reef fishing charters. Learn more about these operators and more in The Best Fishing Charters on Tongatapu.
Location: Trips depart from Faua Wharf, Vuna Road
10. Relax with an Island Massage
Finally, experience the blissfulness of the South Pacific Islands at one of the indulgent day spas of Nuku’alofa. Island Glow offers a range of island-style facials, massages, body wraps, hands and feet treatments, while a Japanese-Tongan fusion massage at the Fakafanua Building in Ma’ufanga. Finally, escape from the hustle and bustle of the city at the Acu-Reflex-Herbal Therapy & Garden Spa nestled in gardens.
Find out more about each day spa in The Best Spas in Nuku’alofa.