50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com
50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2024]

© TongaPocketGuide.com

Amazing Activities, Sights and Attractions on Tongatapu

Tongatapu is not only Tonga’s administrative hub being home to the capital, but it’s a hub for an array of activities in Tonga! Some of the islands’ most fascinating historical sites can be found here, as well as breathtaking natural landmarks from giant landlocked reef boulders to incredible caves. Out on the water, there’s whale swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. But spare some time for seeing a cultural show and indulging in Tongan cuisine. Why not, when it’s all part of the things to do on Tongatapu?!

Check out some remarkable ways to spend your time on the island in the list below. Plus, get more inspiration for your trip to Tongatapu with The Complete Guide to Tongatapu.

1. Explore and Swim in ‘Anahulu Cave

Tongatapu is home to many amazing natural landscapes, including ‘Anahulu Cave. Through a small cave entrance, you’ll emerge in a large limestone cave lit up for you to admire the intricate stalactites and columns designed by nature. Follow a well-formed path and you’ll arrive at a refreshing cave pool that begs for a swim! After spending some time in the caves, there’s also ‘Anahulu Beach outside of the cave entrance to relax on. There’s a small fee to access both of these natural attractions, which makes it one of the 20 Free & Cheap Things to Do on Tongatapu.

Location: Signposted from the southern end of Haveluliku village, east side of Tongatapu.

10 Things to Do in Tongatapu(c) tongapocketguide.com

2. See the Ancient Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon

If you’re looking for history in the South Pacific, then this is the place to come – the fascinating Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon. Also known as “Maui’s Burden”, this Stone Henge of the South Pacific was constructed around the 13th Century. Behind the arch monument, you can also check out Maka Fa’akinanga, a leaning stone pillar which is said to be where the king of Tonga at the time rested while watching the construction of the Ha’amonga. The attraction is one of the 10 Best Historical Sites in Tongatapu & Nuku’alofa.

Location: Signposted along Taufa’ahau Road, Niutoua, east side of Tongatapu.

10 Things to Do in Tongatapu(c) tongapocketguide.com

3. Watch Nature’s Most Epic Water Fountain; the Mapua ‘a Vaea Blowholes

Tongatapu is full of amazing natural attractions, with one of the must-sees being the Mapua ‘a Vaea Blowholes. Spanning some 5 km (3 mi) along the coastline, hundreds of blowholes shoot seawater into the air onto the tiered reefs like nature’s own water fountain. Although the blowholes can be seen doing their thing at any time, they look their best at sunset, as well as during windy weather, large swells or at high tide when water can shoot up to 30 m (100 ft) in the air!

Location: End of Vaea Road, Houma, southwest side of Tongatapu.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

4. Experience a Tongan Feast and Cultural Show

Food, fun and fantastic dancing can be experienced at the dinner shows found around Tongatapu. Resorts, such as ‘Oholei Beach Resort and Katea Retreat, host Tongan cultural nights complete with grand feasts, vigorous dancing from the males and elegant hand-orientated moves from the females. You know it’s a good show when it concludes with an epic fire dance! Find out much more about cultural shows across Tongatapu in The 10 Best Cultural Shows in Tonga.

Location: All over Tongatapu! See the link above for recommendations and their locations.

10 Best Things to Do in Tongatapu© TongaPocketGuide.com

5. Swim with Humpback Whales

Between July and October every year, visitors to Tonga get the amazing opportunity to swim with humpback whales as they migrate to Tonga for mating and calving. Tonga is one of the very few places in the world where you can swim with these gentle giants, with a selection of whale-swimming boat trips departing from Nuku’alofa. Check out operators offering this mind-blowing experience in the 5 Best Whale Swim Tours on Tongatapu. Plus, see more exclusive experiences like this in the 10 Best Luxury Experiences on Tongatapu.

Location: Trips depart from Faua Wharf in Nuku’alofa.

10 Things to Do in Tongatapu(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

6. Go Beach-Hopping

Tongatapu has an amazing selection of beaches, many of which are often blissfully deserted for a true slice of paradise. See beaches with blowholes, interesting limestone formations, lagoons, coral and caves all along the east, south and west coasts. Start making your list of must-hit beaches from the 25 Best Beaches on Tongatapu. Additionally, some amazing surf can be found at Ha’atafu Beach for experienced surfers. Find more suggestions like this in the 10 Adult-Only Activities on Tongatapu.

Location: All over Tongatapu! Check out the link above for recommendations and their locations.

10 Things to Do in Tongatapu(c) tongapocketguide.com

7. Scratch Your Head at Tsunami Rock

Also known as “The Maka Sio’ata”, Tsunami Rock is just one of Tonga’s gigantic boulders in an unusual place. Surrounded by coconut fields and some distance from the coast, Tsunami Rock looks a little out of place, but the natural wonder is explained by geologists to be a rock from a reef near the island that could have been deposited here by a tsunami. Get some obligatory photos and read about the rock’s history on the interpretation panels.

Location: Kala’au, west side of Tongatapu. There’s a car park and beach access at the end of the access road. However, Tsunami Rock is up the turn-off just before reaching the beach, approximately 140 m (150-yard) down a dirt road.

10 Things to Do in Tongatapu(c) tongapocketguide.com

8. See the Flying Foxes at Kolovai

Yes, Tonga is just one of those places where the wildlife is accessible to see in their natural environment. For instance, flying foxes or fruit bats are easy to see in the trees in the village of Kolovai. While flying foxes can be seen all around Tonga, Kolovai is a sanctuary for these bats locally known as “peka”. Although it’s possible to see the bats all year round, the best time is between October and February.

Location: Kolovai, west side of Tongatapu.

10 Things to Do in Tongatapu(c) tongapocketguide.com

9. Check Out the Paepae ‘o Tele’a Tombs and Terraced Tombs…

Around the villages of Mu’a and Lapaha are a number of interesting archaeological sites, including around 28 royal tombs (langi) marked with giant limestone slabs. The most impressive of which is the Paepae ‘o Tele’a or “Platform of Tele’a”, built in a pyramid-like memorial that is a construction for royal tombs still used to this day. Check out more attractions nearby in the 5 Best Things to Do in Mu’a.

Location: Signposted along Taufa’ahau Road, Lapaha, east side of Tongatapu.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

10. … And the Mala’ekula Royal Tombs

Impossible to miss in a large grassy clearing in the centre of Nuku’alofa, the Royal Tombs are the burial grounds of the Royal House of Tupou dating back to the first in the Tupou line, King Taufa’ahau Tupou I who died in 1893. The historical site is fenced off to the public, so visitors have to just admire the grand statues from afar. Check out more attractions to hit in the capital in the 30 Best Things to Do in Nuku’alofa.

Location: Seen from Meteialona Road, Vaha’akolo Road and Taufa’ahau Road, Nuku’alofa city centre, central north coast of Tongatapu.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

11. Discover the Hufangalupe Land Bridge, Lookout and Beach

There are a few impressive natural features to admire in the Hufangalupe area. After a drive down a dirt track (the last 50 m/yards is rough, so it’s best to park up and walk the rest of the way if you’re in a rental car), you’ll first come to a side trail to an astonishing lookout over Hufangalupe Beach. Another fainter trail leads down to the beach from the road. Alternatively, continue down the dirt road and follow a well-formed trail down to a cliff archway covered in vegetation, the Hufangalupe Land Bridge. Walk over the land bridge and continue for approximately five minutes before turning back to see an amazing view of Tongatapu’s rugged cliff coastline.

Location: Access off Hufangalupe Road, southeast coast of Tongatapu.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

12. Admire the Royal Palace

An iconic structure on the waterfront of Nuku’alofa, the Royal Palace stands as a symbol of the Kingdom of Tonga. The palace is made of kauri timber and was built in 1864 for King George Tupou I. To this day, it remains the residence of the royal family. Check out more attractions to visit in the city in the 30 Best Things to Do in Nuku’alofa.

Location: Corner of Vaha’akolo and Vuna Roads, Nuku’alofa city centre, central north coast of Tongatapu.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

13. Learn Something New at the Tonga National Museum

The Tonga National Museum is highly recommended to anyone remotely interested in the history of Tonga. Admire all sorts of ancient Tongan tools, from stone anchors to wooden headrests, and get a fascinating insight into the way that Tongans lived hundreds of years ago. Too many visitors miss this treasure trove – mainly because the museum is not easy to find. The museum has a very affordable fee and guided tours are provided by passionate and knowledgeable guides at no extra cost. Alternatively, you can walk around the hall self-guided thanks to the information displays.

Location: Upstairs in Queen Salote Memorial Hall, Taufa’ahau Road (opposite the Lulutai Airlines office), Nuku’alofa city centre.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

14. Embark on a Snorkelling Excursion to ‘Atata Island

After the 2022 tsunami, only a few select islands are available to access from Tongatapu. One such island is ‘Atata Island, a marine sanctuary that can be accessed on snorkelling tours with Deep Blue Diving. Snorkelling tours with Deep Blue include all the gear that you’ll need, including snorkel, masks, fins and a wetsuit, as well as snacks and a homemade cooked lunch in reusable containers (a rarity in Tonga). Learn more about why ‘Atata Island is one of the best places to snorkel from Nuku’alofa in the 5 Best Places to Snorkel in Tongatapu. Note that snorkelling tours only take place between November and June (in other words, outside of the whale season).

Location: Most scuba tours depart from Faua Wharf, Vuna Road, Nuku’alofa.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

15. Browse the Bustling Talamahu Market

Well worth a look, the central Talamahu Market in Nuku’alofa 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. You can even get personalised souvenirs. 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! The market is open from around 8 am until around 5 pm, Monday to Saturday.

Location: Salote Road, Nuku’alofa city centre.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

16. Experience Cultural Demonstrations in ‘Anahulu Cave

If the dramatic limestone formations of ‘Anahulu Cave weren’t enough to leave you in awe, how about it as the setting for learning more about the Tongan culture? Teta Tours offers cultural demonstrations of how locals weave mats and make tapa from mulberry bark before using them to paint beautiful pieces. Experience a kava ceremony and taste this minorly narcotic drink, as well as learn how to husk and grate a coconut from scratch! Check out more experiences like this in the 10 Best Culture Tours in Tonga.

Location: Transfers are provided from Nuku’alofa or make your way to ‘Anahulu Cave (see above).

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

17. Learn About Tongan Traditions at Ancient Tonga

Tonga is a nation with a rich island culture, which is made completely accessible thanks to experiences like Ancient Tonga! The cultural centre in Nuku’alofa offers “Half” and “Full Culture Tours” revolving around Tongan arts, crafts, dance and food. The interactive tour begins with preparing a traditional cooking method called an “umu“, where you’ll learn to husk and grate a coconut and prepare lu by wrapping meat and coconut cream in leaves. While the umu is cooking, take a guided tour of a private museum and stop by various stations that showcase the arts, fashion, food and drink of the islands. On the Full Culture Tour, the experience concludes with feasting on the fruit of your labour; the now-cooked umu. See more food-related activities in the 10 Best Foodie Experiences in Nuku’alofa & Tongatapu.

Location: Tamakautonga Road, Popua, Nuku’alofa.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

18. Get an Obligatory Pic of the Three-Headed Coconut Tree

Ever wondered what a coconut tree with three heads looks like? Us neither. But if we’ve now piqued your interest, then you can see one on the roadside in Liahona. Farmers in the area have been careful not to cut down this natural wonder over the years, and, we say, thank goodness!

Location: Signposted along Loto Road, western end of Liahona village, west side of Tongatapu.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

19. See Hina Having a Nap in Hina Cave

Found on the private beach of the Oholei Beach Resort, Oholei Beach not only boasts idyllic white sands but also hides the famous Hina Cave. Explore the large cave with an opening in the ceiling and see Hina herself laid to rest while still waiting for her lover to return (or at least, the rocky outline of her). 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.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

20. Scuba Dive at Coral Reefs and Caves

Tongatapu is home to some unique scuba diving and freediving experiences. Apart from hearing whale songs throughout Tongatapu’s waters between July and October, divers can experience diving among vibrant coral reefs with more than 170 fish species. Trips also depart from Nuku’alofa explore caves created by volcanic activity, coral reefs and enjoy the views from waters that are crystal clear most of the time. Note that scuba diving on Tongatapu is exclusively for certified divers with the operators mentioned in The Best Snorkel & Scuba Dive Tours in Tongatapu & Nuku’alofa. Famous sites around Nuku’alofa include the Cathedral and Tuna Caves, as well as others listed in the 10 Best Dive Sites in Tonga.

Location: Most scuba tours depart from Faua Wharf, Vuna Road, Nuku’alofa.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© Tonga Ministry of Tourism

21. Take a Look Around Tupou College

If you’re travelling with kids, or interestingly enough if you’re a nature-lover, then it’s worth visiting Tonga’s oldest school, Tupou College. Driving around the complex 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. See more activities like this in the 10 Things to Do on Tongatapu with Kids.

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

10 Things to Do in Tongatapu(c) tongapocketguide.com

22. Take a Day Trip to Pangaimotu Island

Escape the mainland for the day with an affordable day trip to Pangaimotu Island! After a 15-20-minute boat trip, you’ll arrive on the island to enjoy it as you please: swimming from the beach, walking around the island, sunbathing or finding shade under a coconut tree, or snorkelling at the nearby reef (snorkel hire is an additional fee).

Location: Boats depart from Faua Wharf (behind the fish market and Ngutilei Restaurant) every Sunday at 11 am and 12 am. Trips throughout the week require at least 10 passengers to go ahead (so book at the Tourist Information Fale in advance and they’ll get back to you).

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© Pixabay

23. Indulge in an Island Massage

Tonga is an incredibly relaxed country as it is, but the ambience can be heightened further with a relaxing island massage. Find glorious spas in Nuku’alofa where you can enjoy island-style treatments at Island Glow, for instance, or experience the skilled techniques of a Filipino head massage at Mia Hair and Beauty. Compare spas in our 5 Best Spas in Nuku’alofa & Tongatapu.

Location: Nuku’alofa – See the link above for recommendations and their locations.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

24. Head West to the Abel Tasman Landing Site…

When it comes to landmarks for where the first Europeans landed in Tonga, Tongatapu has you sorted starting with the Abel Tasman Landing Site on the northwestern tip of the island. An information panel at the site tells about the first encounter between the Tongan people and the Dutch explorer’s crew, while a plaque is also in place to commemorate the occasion that occurred on 21 January 1643.

Location: Northern end of Hihifo Road, north of Ha’atafu, west side of Tongatapu.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

25. … Then to the Christianity Landing Site…

To commemorate the arrival of the Christian religion on Fongolua Beach with the landing of pioneering missionaries, Rev. John Thomas and Rev. John Hutchinson, there is a plaque in a grassy clearing just a short drive/walk south of the Abel Tasman Landing Site in Ha’atafu. The plaque memorial is a testament to the arrival of Christianity to Tonga over 180 years ago. The plaque tells the story of the arrival of the missionaries in English on one side and Tongan on the other. Learn more about the religious history of the islands in The Guide to the Religions in Tonga.

Location: Hihifo Road (approximately 140 m/150 yards south of the Abel Tasman Landing Site), north of Ha’atafu, west side of Tongatapu.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

26. … And Check Out One Last Landing Site, Captain Cook’s!

And on the edge of the Fanga’utu Lagoon, near the village of Mu’a, is the landing site of British Explorer Captain James Cook. A plaque is in the place where a banyan tree once stood to commemorate the event that took place in 1777. Queen Elizabeth II also famously visited the landmark in 1970.

Location: Signposted along Taufa’ahau Road, Mu’a, east side of Tongatapu.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

27. Marvel at the Fishing Pigs

Another one of Tongatapu’s quirky attractions, the Fishing Pigs are essentially a bunch of pigs in the village of Navutoka that have decided that they prefer seafood to land fodder. With that, you can almost always see pigs wandering the mudflats along the coast, sticking their head in the water in search of briny goodness. Don’t worry; the brown tourist signs on the side of the road will point you in the right direction of this attraction that the Tongans are extremely proud of!

Location: Signposted along Tahi Road, Navutoka, east side of Tongatapu.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

28. See it All on a Guided Island Tour

The Ha’amonga ‘a Maui, Mapua ‘a Vaea Blowholes, Tsunami Rock and even the Fishing Pigs can be admired with ease on a locally guided island tour. There are both half-island and full-island tours available, taking you to a number of sights to match your desired timeframe and interests. Tours are typically on a shared basis but private tours are also available. Learn more about touring Tonga’s main island in the 5 Best Guided Island Land Tours of Tongatapu.

Location: Accommodation transfers are usually included.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

29. Play at Tonga’s Only Golf Course

Want to tee off in every country in the world? Be sure to tick Tonga off the list at the Tonga Golf Club. The Tonga Golf Club provides a relaxing nine-hole golf course in an attractive park-like setting. This year-round golf course is the only one in the entire Kingdom. Learn more about the golf course in The Complete Guide to Golf in Tonga.

Location: Taufa’ahau Road, ‘Atele, central Tongatapu (south of Nuku’alofa).

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

30. Browse the Langafonua Handicrafts Centre

Additionally to the crafts market in Nuku’alofa, 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! See more shopping opportunities like this in The Guide to Shopping in Tonga + The Best Places to Shop.

Location: Taufa’ahau Road (next to Friends Cafe), Nuku’alofa city centre.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

31. Craft Your Own Tongan Souvenir at Tina’s Workshop

If marvelling at professionally made handicrafts wasn’t enough, 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 interactive 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.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

32. Try Tongan and International Cuisine at Tongatapu’s Restaurants

You’ll find a wealth of variety when it comes to eating out on Tongatapu, especially in Nuku’alofa! Try fabulous local dishes, such as ota ika (raw fish marinated in coconut cream) and lu (meat and coconut cream wrapped in taro leaves). Alternatively, European, American and Asian food is also readily available and done well! You need only head to the 20 Best Restaurants on Tongatapu to check out our top recommendations!

Location: All over Tongatapu! See the link above for recommendations and their locations.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

33. Experience a Sunday Church Service

With 99% of Tonga’s population being devout Christians, sampling a slice of life at one of the Sunday church services is an amazing way to experience the culture. Tongan church halls boom with harmonious singing and the sound of brass instruments played by school children. It’s an excellent free way to spend a Sunday morning (or afternoon). Check out the 10 Best Churches in Tonga for Tourists for more recommended churches to visit and church etiquette.

Location: All over Tongatapu! See the link above for recommendations and their locations.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

34. Check Out Tu’i Mata Moana Fish Market and Fair

On the waterfront along Vuna Road, on the east side of Nuku’alofa, there are a couple more markets that many travellers miss! At Faua Wharf, check out the tables of tropical fish, wrapped-up crabs, bags of squid, oysters, seaweed and much more at the Tu’i Mata Moana Fish Market. Further along the wharf, you’ll also find the Tu’i Mata Moana Fair with an abundance of barbecued meals and local drinks like ‘otai for sale. Although both markets are open throughout the week, the best time to go is on a Saturday morning. Learn more about these markets in the 5 Best Markets in Tonga.

Location: Faua Wharf, Vuna Road, Nuku’alofa.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

35. Buy Tongan Crafts Fully Personalised

Once you inevitably fall in love with Tonga’s unique handicrafts, treat yourself to the extra special souvenir of a fully customised gift. For instance, commission a personalised photo frame of your travels from Pink Gator Designs or a shell/pearl/coconut necklace from Treasure Island. Learn more about these shops and more in Where to Buy the Best Souvenirs in Tonga.

Location: Pink Gator – Painituu’ua Road, Haveluloto, Nuku’alofa. Treasure Island – Upstairs of Talamahu Market, Salote Road, Nuku’alofa.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

36. See the Sights by Bike

A fun way to experience Nuku’alofa and Tongatapu is on two wheels! ANT Bicycles hires out quality mountain bikes. Enjoy a casual peddle around town and the surrounding villages to experience Tonga at a much more natural pace. Alternatively, we have some longer adventures listed in The Best Cycling Routes in Nuku’alofa & Tongatapu.

Location: ANT Bicycles is located at 26 Railway Road, Mangaia, Nuku’alofa (close to the city centre). Learn more about bike rentals in Where to Rent Bicycles in Tonga.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

37. Try Tongan Snacks and Street Food

Eating Tongan cuisine is all part of the cultural experience of visiting Tongatapu! Try Tongan favourites in restaurants like Mum’s Cafe, Ofeina Restaurant or Keli’i and Rose Restaurant or check out the array of roadside stalls as you’re road-tripping around Tongatapu to try sweet treats like topai and fai kakai! For more recommendations, check out The Cheap Eats in Tongatapu & Nuku’alofa, while more information about Tongan food can be found in the 10 Unique Foods in Tonga You Have to Try.

Location: All over Tongatapu! See the link above for recommendations and their locations.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

38. Surf the Epic Reef Breaks at Ha’atafu Beach

A hidden gem of surfing in the South Pacific, Ha’atafu Beach is home to some of Tonga’s best surf breaks! Enjoy around 10 different surf breaks, uncrowded and ideal for experienced surfers (so don’t worry, you’re seriously unlikely to be sharing the waves with mini surfboards). The coastline here is perfectly situated to take advantage of swells from the distant South Pacific Ocean. For more tips, check out The Complete Guide to Surfing in Tonga.

Location: Ha’atafu Beach, Ha’atafu, west side of Tongatapu.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© Tonga Ministry of Tourism

39. Get Some Retail Therapy

After perusing the handicrafts markets, if you still have shopping fever, rest assured that Tongatapu has plenty more to offer in the way of boutiques and local designers. Browse locally designed dresses, shirts and accessories at Eiko-san Clothing, pick up Tongan spa products and homeware at Joy’s Gift Shop or scout out Koko Designs‘ cute coconut soap gift shop on the outskirts of town. See more local designers and boutiques in The Guide to Shopping in Tonga + The Best Places to Shop TTD370.

Location: All over Nuku’alofa! See recommendations and their locations in the link above, as well as in Where to Buy the Best Souvenirs in Tonga.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

40. Experience a Medicine and Cultural Walk at Katea Retreat

Katea Retreat might be more known for its cultural shows and umu buffets, but the beach resort also offers a unique guided walk. The walk begins on the resort’s breathtaking beach backed with caves before delving into the forest where you’ll learn about the vegetation and how they are used in traditional Tongan medicine. Along the way, you’ll also check out sacred landmarks and learn more about Tonga’s unique history from your knowledgeable local guide. The experience concludes with a fabulous lunch. See more walks across the islands in the 10 Best Walks & Hikes in Tonga.

Location: Katea Retreat, Nakolo (access road off Liku Road, just south of Nakolo village), southeast coast of Tongatapu.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

41. Admire Colonial Architecture and Churches on a Self-Guided Walking Tour of Nuku’alofa

Simply enjoy the pleasure of walking around Nuku’alofa and admiring its vibrant architecture. From the Tongan fale-inspired Visitor Information Centre, walk down Vuna Road to see the grand Treasury Building and its colonial-inspired architecture. Adjacent to the Royal Tombs is the Centennial Church, Free Church of Tonga – one of the most impressive churches in Nuku’alofa which stands its mighty ground despite having been closed due to cyclone damage for some years. Get a full walking itinerary of Nuku’alofa’s architectural sights in A Self-Guided Walking Tour of Nuku’alofa: One Day Itinerary.

Location: All over Nuku’alofa! See the link above for a walking self-guided itinerary including the locations of these sights.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

42. Catch the Heilala Festival

Tonga’s largest festival is a multi-day event starting on July 3 or 4 each year on Tongatapu. The event kicks off with the King’s Birthday and has talent shows, brass band performances, singing competitions and much more. The highlight of the event is the Miss Heilala Beauty Pageant complete with parades through Nuku’alofa. And that’s not the only event happening on Tongatapu; see more worth timing your trip with in the 10 Biggest Events in Tonga.

Location: Nuku’alofa.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© Tonga Ministry of Tourism

43. Drink and Be Merry at Nuku’alofa’s 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 watching the sun go down from Billfish Bar & Restaurant. Or how about enjoying the nautical theme and dancing at Nauti Ruby’s? It’s one of the 10 Adult-Only Activities in Nuku’alofa & Tongatapu.

Location: All over Nuku’alofa! See recommendations and their locations in the 5 Best Bars in Nuku’alofa.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

44. 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, papaya 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.

Location: Towards the southern end of Umusi Road, Umusi, Nuku’alofa.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

45. Get a Tongan-Inspired Tattoo

The South Pacific is renowned for its Polynesian artwork and intricate tattooing. Get a special souvenir to commemorate your trip to Tonga by getting a Tongan-inspired tattoo! Nuku’alofa is home to two highly-praised tattoo studios, Happy Sailor Tattoo and Kaila Tattoo. The former offers free design consultations from international tattoo artists, while the latter specialises in traditional Tongan styles.

Location: Happy Sailor Tattoo – 1-4 Taumoepeau Building, corner Salote and Fatafehi Road, Nuku’alofa. Kaila Tattoo – Vuna Road, Touliki, Nuku’alofa.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

46. Stargaze at Ultra-Clear Skies

Unpolluted by artificial lighting, Tonga’s skies at night display amazing views of the Southern Cross and the distinct shades of our Milky Way Galaxy. Anywhere on Tongatapu gives you sensational stargazing on a clear night, but the further you get from towns and villages, the better. For more endearing experiences like this, check out the 10 Most Romantic Things to Do on Tongatapu.

Location: All over Tongatapu! Check out some especially good stargazing locations in our 5 Best Places for Stargazing in Tonga.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

47. Sample Local Beers, Juices and Cocktails

Tongatapu is home to its own array of drinks, such as beers from Pacific Brewing Co., coffee from Kingdom Koffie and fruit drinks like ‘otai. Try some of these local beverages at one of the many bars, cafes and markets found across the island. See what drinks to try in the 10 Drinks in Tonga You Have to Try.

Location: All around Tongatapu! Check out the links above for recommendations and their locations.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

48. Join a Fitness Class

Have a pumping start to your day and experience the Tongan energy at one of Tongatapu’s fitness classes. While there are a number of classes you could join, particularly across Nuku’alofa, a popular one in Tonga is Zumba! We love the Zumba class held at the Apifo’ou College every Monday, Wednesday and Friday bright and early at 5:30 am!

Location: Apifo’ou College, Alaivahamama’o Bypass (the turn-off between Salote Road and Umusi Road), Nuku’alofa.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

49. Rent a Car and Explore the Sights of Tongatapu

Now that you know most of the things to do on Tongatapu, combine them all with a self-guided tiki tour around the island! An independent way to enjoy this experience is to rent a car and hit the uncomplicated roads of the 260 km² (100 mi²) island. Check out the sights to see and their locations in the 10 Best Sights & Natural Attractions on Tongatapu or follow A Self-Guided Day Trip of Tongatapu: One Day Itinerary.

Location: All over Tongatapu! See the link above for recommendations and their locations. As for car hire companies, take a look at The Best Car Rentals in Tongatapu.

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

50. Relax…

As we reach the end of this whopping 50 things to do on Tongatapu, it’s worth reminding yourself to relax. With warm soothing temperatures all year round and some stunning beach and forest retreats, you can be forgiven for wanting to simply relax on Tongatapu. Check out the 10 Glorious Ways to Relax in Tonga for ideas.

Location: All over Tongatapu!

50 BEST Things to Do on Tongatapu 🌞 [2023]© TongaPocketGuide.com

More Things to Do on Tongatapu

That might be the end of our list of the best things to do on Tongatapu but it’s by no means the end of our advice! Get more essential travel tips from our other Tongatapu guides:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Complete Travel Guide to Tongatapu.

Author

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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