The Best Sights, Activities and Attractions in Vava’u
If you’re looking for the destination with the most action in Tonga, then you’ve definitely found it in Vava’u. It’s the capital of watersports and whale encounters, with the wharves in Neiafu – the main town, buzzing with boat tours for snorkelling in caves, scuba diving in remote sites, fishing for game species, island-hopping, sailing and, of course, swimming with humpback whales. That’s not to say there aren’t a few things to do with your feet on dry land, between the inspiring handicraft market to hidden gems like the botanical garden. Check out some of our recommendations for things to do in Vava’u right here!
One more note; due to Tongan law, shops, tours, services and even some of the natural attractions on government land are closed on a Sunday. See 10 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday for alternative things to do.
1. Check Out the Amazing Views from Mt Talau
A great place to start with a visit to Vava’u is hiking to the top of Mt Talau! Located in the Mt Talau National Park, just a 20-minute walk from Neiafu town or a TOP$10-taxi ride, the Mt Talau walk is a steep 10-20-minute climb through rugged forest to a rewarding viewpoint. Get an amazing photo opportunity of Neiafu and the Port of Refuge. There are two viewing decks, so make sure to explore to find them. We recommend walking back into town through the villages for a quintessential look into village life including the sights of churches, pigs and roosters. See more activities like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Vava’u.
Location: From Neiafu, follow Tapueluefu Road (just past the Police Station) for approximately 2 km (1.2 mi) until you see the entrance signs for the Mt Talau National Park.
2. Snorkel in Swallows Cave
Vava’u is home to countless amazing snorkelling spots, many of which can be enjoyed from the beaches of the resorts. However, one snorkelling sport well worth getting a boat to is Swallows Cave. The large sea cave that cuts into a cliff is not only home to hundreds of swiftlets but harbours large schools of fish. Join one of the 10 Best Boat & Sailing Tours in Vava’u to enjoy unforgettable snorkelling in this sea cave.
Location: Northwestern tip of Kapa Island.
3. Tour the ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden
Join the former Director for Agriculture and Forestry, Haniteli Fa’anunu, for an insightful guided tour of his beautifully curated ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden. Culture meets nature on his guided walking tours of a tropical garden. On the standard Garden Tour, learn about Haniteli’s interesting life story, as well as about tropical plants from across the South Pacific and their many benefits.
For the ultimate experience of ‘Ene’io, choose the ‘Ene’io Grand Tour. After the guided garden tour, enjoy a demonstration or live show of how live plants are processed into valuable products by the local women at the garden’s visitor centre. Continue to a scrumptious Tongan feast with a roast suckling pig and taste local dishes. Relax and enjoy the dazzling display of traditional dancing with a floor show and a live band with folk music to enjoy. Note that a minimum of eight guests are needed for this tour to go ahead.
Location: For the “Grand Tour”, pick-ups are offered from Neiafu. For the standard tour, make your way to the east side of ‘Utu Vava’u (the main island), south of Tu’anikivale. Keep left at the fork in Tu’anikivale and ‘Ene’io is approximately 900 m (980 yards) down this road. If no one is waiting for you at the gate entrance, continue down to the beach.
4. Swim with Humpback Whales
One of the most popular activities in Vava’u, swimming with majestic humpback whales is a must-do! Every year between July and October, humpback whales come to Vava’u’s warm and sheltered waters to breed and raise their young. Whale swimming tours give travellers the unique opportunity to snorkel with these gentle giants in their natural element. However, not all operators follow whale-watching regulations to ensure an ethical and sustainable experience, so recommend doing your research and going with one of the 10 Best Whale Swim Tours in Vava’u (or check out the other island groups for whale swimming in Tonga).
Location: All over Vava’u! See the link above for recommended operators and their locations.
5. Check Out the Views from the ‘Utula’aina Lookout…
In the north of the main island, ‘Utu Vava’u, the ‘Utula’aina Lookout is one of the islands’ best photo stops and whale-watching lookouts. After a drive down a long but well-maintained gravel road, and looking out for the tomb hidden in the bushes as you drive, you’ll reach the ‘Utula’aina Lookout with breathtaking views over Vava’u’s rugged cliffs, turquoise waters and white-sand beaches. The interpretation sign also explains how this site was once the residence of the 10th Tu’i Tonga – find out more about this line of kings in A Brief History of Tonga.
Location: Well signposted from the north of Holonga village, ‘Utu Vava’u. From Holonga, follow the gravel road north for approximately 1 km (0.6 mi) and turn left at the fork. The lookout is another 650 m (710 yards) down this road.
6. … Then from the ‘Esi ko Salote Lookout
Another vantage point of the northern coast can be found at ‘Esi ko Salote, just along the road from ‘Utula’aina. Aside from more spectacular views of Vava’u’s dramatic coastline and the possibility of seeing whales in the whale season, this site was known to be frequented by Queen Salote Tupou III who was said to have watched her sons from this viewpoint while they swam at the beach below.
Location: Well signposted from the north of Holonga village, ‘Utu Vava’u. From Holonga, follow the gravel road north for approximately 1 km (0.6 mi) and turn right at the fork. The lookout is another 350 m (380 yards) down this road.
7. Shop for Unique Arts and Crafts
The Tongan culture is renowned for its incredible arts and crafts, which can be sampled by taking a look around the shops and market in Neiafu. The Neiafu Market, also known as the ‘Utukalongalu Market, is a great place to start to see an array of handicrafts, from gorgeous whale tapa paintings to beautifully woven bags. They’ll even customise pieces for you, usually for the day after! Additionally, check out Kaila Handicraft for more unique gifts and souvenirs! Learn more about these stores and more in our guide, Where to Buy the Best Souvenirs in Tonga.
Location: ‘Utukalongalu Market – Halaevalu Wharf, Neiafu. Kaila Handicraft – Fatafehi Road, Neiafu town centre.
8. Jump on a Fishing Charter
Any serious angler will probably already know of Vava’u’s reputation for sports and game fishing. While mahimahi, wahoo and yellowfin tuna are all on the cards, Vava’u is most famous for its blue marlin and giant trevally! There is a small but reputable selection of fishing charters available with all of the set-up for an exciting and hopefully successful day or half-day out on the water. Find out more in The Best Fishing Charters in Vava’u.
Location: Fishing charters depart from Neiafu the neighbouring Toula village. Check out the link above to learn more.
9. Have a Dip in Veimumuni Cave
An easy natural attraction to get to from Vava’u’s main island, ‘Utu Vava’u, Veimumuni Cave is on the coast of Toula village. A short walkway leads down to a viewing platform of the coast, as well as the cave’s entrance where you’ll find a freshwater pool. A refreshing dip is made all the more inviting by the steps leading into the pool, even if the cave does look a little spooky. According to legend, the cave was the bathing place of the maiden goddess, Vei. For more family-friendly attractions like this, check out the 10 Best Things to Do in Vava’u with Kids.
Location: Signposted from the main road in Toula village, ‘Utu Vava’u.
10. Do a Tour of a Vanilla Plantation
Vava’u provides the perfect conditions for growing vanilla beans, where a drive around the main islands will reveal plantations of sprawling vanilla. One of the main producers in Vava’u is Albert Guttenbiel Vanilla, who offers short but laidback and informative tours of one of their vanilla plantations where you’ll learn about the lifecycle of these complex vines and the arduous task of hand-pollinating every flower. Of course, you’ll also have the opportunity to purchase the raw product on this already very affordable tour that lasts approximately 30 minutes. For more tours like this, check out the 10 Best Foodie Experiences in Vava’u.
Location: Tours take place at the Albert Guttenbiel Vanilla Plantation between Feletoa and Mataika villages, ‘Utu Vava’u. At the large crossroads in Mataika, turn west towards the airport and Feletoa. The vanilla plantation is approximately 125 m (137 yards) down this road.
12. Enjoy a Tongan Umu Feast and Cultural Show
Speaking of food, one of the most renowned cultural events in Tonga is the umu feast and floor show. Food is slow-cooked in an earth oven, the “umu”, while a spit-roast pig is also usually a staple. Once you’re well-fed, the cultural show begins with energetic dancing, and sometimes even fire dancing, from the boys and elegant dancing, particularly with their hands, from the ladies. Tongan feasts can be experienced at ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden and Beautiful Ofu Island Backpackers, while Humpback Lodge hosts a similar experience except with kava drinking instead of the floor show. Be sure to pre-book as minimum numbers are usually required for the event to go ahead. Learn more about these experiences in the 10 Best Cultural Shows in Tonga.
Location: All over Vava’u! See the link above for recommended feasts and their locations.
13. Scuba Dive in Paradise
Available year-round, scuba diving in Vava’u is something else! Dive in warm and vividly clear waters, seeing amazing life, like fish, sharks, nudibranchs, crustaceans and hard and soft corals. Vava’u has variety, boasting incredible underwater seascapes like the Clan MacWilliam Wreck, drop-offs, chimneys, caves, swim-throughs and the list goes on! Note, however, that scuba diving in Vava’u is only available to those who are certified, as there are no intro dives and lessons available. Check out who are the best operators to dive with in The Best Dive Shops & Operators in Vava’u. Plus, check out more activities like this in the 10 Adult-Only Activities in Vava’u.
Location: Tours depart from Fangafoa Marina (near Mango Cafe), Neiafu, ‘Utu Vava’u.
14. Discover Historical Sites Like Kilikilitefua Wall
Much of Vava’u and Tonga’s preserved historical sites centre around generations of royal families. One such site is the Kilikilitefua Wall. The census for the royal family was quite an unusual one around 400 years ago when rocks began to be placed at Kilikilitefua for each member of the family. There were so many volcanic rocks placed here that it made an entire wall (but not quite seen from space)! It is said that the wall was a lot bigger before residents at some point started taking stones for their own construction projects… Check out more sites like this in the 10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga.
Location: South of Makave village, ‘Utu Vava’u. From Makave Free Wesleyan Church, follow the road south and keep left at the fork. Continue on this road for approximately 400 m (440 yards) and Kilikilitefua Wall is on your left.
15. Snorkel Until Your Heart’s Content
Although some of the best snorkelling can be reached on paid boat tours, there are some spots from the main island that are well worth donning your mask and snorkel. Accommodations, such as the Tongan Beach Resort, Mystic Sands and Vaimalo Fales have some interesting snorkelling spots right from their waterfront locations, which are enhanced further on the outer island resorts. Otherwise, check out some easily accessible beaches for snorkelling in The Best Snorkelling in Vava’u: Top 10 Places to Snorkel.
Location: All over Vava’u! See the link above for recommendations and their locations.
16. Do Some Kayaking from Your Resort…
Almost all beachfront accommodations in Vava’u offer complimentary kayak hire to guests. So if you’re staying in one of the resorts, be sure to spend some time out on the water, exploring the coast and checking out the marine life swimming under your kayak! Alternatively, kayaks are available to hire from Cafe Tropicana, giving you an excellent excuse to explore the Neiafu Harbour. Check out some of the resorts with kayaks in the 10 Best Resorts in Vava’u and The Guide to Kayaking in Tonga.
Location: All over Vava’u! See the links above for recommendations and their locations.
17. … Or Make It a Multi-Day Kayaking Adventure!
A unique holiday experience of Vava’u, the Friendly Islands Kayak Company (FIKCO) offers day tours and multi-day tours of Vava’u by kayak! Their multi-day offerings go from three-day tours to 10-day missions, either camping on remote island beaches and villages or staying in the comfort of a resort. Whatever you choose, discover the joys of gliding over Vava’u’s sheltered waters, visiting remote island villages, sleeping under the stars and trying authentic Tongan food. Learn more about these trips in The Best Kayak Tours in Tonga.
Location: Multi-day packages usually include airport transfers from Vava’u Airport, while meeting points are arranged for day tours.
18. Jump on a Snorkelling Tour with Riki Tiki
Go with the flow and enjoy a snorkelling tour with Riki! The year-round activity provider offers boat tours for snorkelling, scuba diving and island resort transfers. With that in mind, you could be sharing the boat with a group of different people doing different things, which often takes you to interesting spots around the islands! Those wishing to do a bit of snorkelling will get the opportunity at Swallows’ Cave, Coral Gardens, as well as Mariner’s Cave if you’re up to the challenge of diving through the underwater entrance! Note that it’s best to head down to the wharf to book face-to-face (before 9 am or after 4 pm) or with one of the local accommodations when you arrive, as he doesn’t check his emails. See more snorkelling tours in the 5 Best Snorkelling Tours in Vava’u.
Location: Tours depart from Fangafoa Marina (near Mango Cafe), Neiafu, ‘Utu Vava’u.
19. Join a Guided Tour of the Main Islands of Vava’u
As you can already tell from this list, Vava’u has a few features on land well worth checking out. Either visit the highlights by hiring a car or take a guided tour of Vava’u with the advantage of local insights (and navigation). Guided land tours will take you around the main islands of Vava’u, like ‘Utu Vava’u (the main island) and the causeway-connected Pangaimotu, ‘Utungake, Okoa and Koloa Islands. Guided tours will take you to see historical sites and breathtaking lookouts, as well as impromptu cultural experiences, such as stopping by women’s weaving groups or something else. Check out the tours available in the 5 Best Guided Tours of Vava’u.
Location: Tours typically depart from Neiafu, with pick-ups available from in and around town included.
20. Eat, Shop and Experience Neiafu
Neiafu is the second-largest town in Tonga and the main town of Vava’u. It’s worth spending at least half a day exploring the town and its attractions. Visit the Neiafu Market to browse impressive handicrafts and buy tropical and healthy snacks. See the historically significant Pouono Park, shop for unique arts and crafts at the handicraft shops and eat lunch at one of Neiafu’s international restaurants, then walk it off by climbing up Mt Talau! Get details on all of the above and more in the 10 Best Things to Do in Neiafu.
Location: Neiafu, central south coast of ‘Utu Vava’u.
21. Cruise Vava’u’s Famous Sailing Grounds
Experience the joys of sailing among some of the most famous yachting grounds in the South Pacific with TradeWinds. Offering all-inclusive sailing and sailing/resort packages at Mandala Resort, there’s scope to cater the experience to your preference. After boarding your luxury class catamaran in Neiafu – available for shared or private charter, you’ll spend a night anchored in the sheltered bay of Port Mourelle, swim at Swallow’s Cave, explore the vivid Hunga Lagoon, stop at a village to enjoy a Tongan feast and cultural entertainment, and delight in delectable cuisine and cocktails along the way. Check out more experiences like this in the 10 Best Luxury Experiences in Vava’u.
Location: Tours depart from Fangafoa Marina (near Mango Cafe), Neiafu, ‘Utu Vava’u.
22. Do Some Birdwatching
Vava’u’s islands are an important habitat for tropical birds and seabirds. For instance, Maninita Island is a protected area with a vast number of seabird nests, which you can see for yourself on a bird-watching boat tour from the Mounu Island Resort. Alternatively, if you’re staying on the mainland, join a tour of the ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden (mentioned above) which is usually good for birdwatching. See more activities like this in the 10 Romantic Things to Do in Vava’u.
Location: All over Vava’u! See recommended locations in the 5 Best Places for Bird Watching in Tonga.
23. Hit the Kitesurfing Hotspots
With many islands lined with reefs to create sheltered lagoons combined with decent tradewinds all year round, kitesurfing in Vava’u is a must! Resorts like Mounu Island Resort offer lessons, gear rental and gear purchase (if given advanced notice) to help hone your skills or learn from scratch. Those with their own gear can head to Blue Lagoon Resort or Treasure Island Eco Resort where they’ll show you their own kitesurfing grounds. Learn more about getting your kite-on in Vava’u in The Guide to Kitesurfing in Tonga.
Location: Mounu Island, Foeata Island (Blue Lagoon) and Euaiki Island (Treasure Island).
24. Do Some Island-Hopping
Vava’u is made of some 50 islands that offer breathtaking beauty between uninhabited islands and quaint island villages. Either charter a boat or join guided boat tours, such as with the Puataukanave Hotel. Outside of the whale season, they run snorkelling and island-hopping tours to hotspots like Swallows’ Cave and Nuku Island, while also taking you to a few “hidden treasures”. They also offer island picnics and the option to do some longline fishing along the way, so be sure to let them know if you want to experience these additions. Learn more about this tour and others in the 10 Best Boat & Sailing Tours in Vava’u.
Location: Charters depart from Halaevalu Wharf, Neiafu. Tours with Puataukanave depart from outside Puataukanave Hotel, on the waterfront between the small boat marina and Fangafoa Marina, Neiafu, ‘Utu Vava’u.
25. Climb the Spiral Staircase at the Hila ki Tapana Lookout
Another lookout on the main island of Vava’u, Hila ki Tapana perhaps doesn’t give the best views of all the lookouts but the elevated platform with a spiral staircase is pretty darn cool. The site became legendary after a handsome mana’ia named Lepuha built his residence here to have constant views of Tapana Island where his love interest lived. Thus, Hila ki Tapana means “to glance towards Tapana”. Check out more sights like this in our guide, Sightseeing in Vava’u: Top 10 Sights & Natural Attractions.
Location: Signposted from Leimatua village, ‘Utu Vava’u. North of Leimatua, follow the signposted gravel road north for approximately 3.3 km (2 mi) to the lookout car park. Note that the last 200 m (220 yards) of the road quickly deteriorates but can still be handled with a 2WD vehicle if handled with care.
26. Dive Under Nuapapu Island into Mariner’s Cave
Another famous sea cave in Vava’u is one far less visited as it provides a bit of skill to get inside. The top of the entrance to Mariner’s Cave peeks from just above the water’s surface on the cliffs of Nuapupu Island because, yes, you have to dive underwater for a length of around 4 m (13 ft) to emerge in the cave’s airtight chamber!
Location: Northwestern coast of Nuapapu Island.
27. Go to a Sunday Church Service
When it inevitably gets to Sunday and all of Tonga’s activities and shops close, you could go where the locals go! Going to church is an integral part of the Tongan culture, where visitors are welcome to join church services to listen to the beautiful harmonious singing. While going to any church in Vava’u is an experience, a popular choice for visitors is the grand St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Neiafu. Sunday services typically start at 10 am.
Location: All over Vava’u! Check out recommendations in the 10 Best Churches in Tonga for Tourists.
28. See the Memorial at Pouono Park
Vava’u might not have a museum to learn about its history, but an interesting site to learn a bit more can be found at Pouono Park. In 1839, this is where King George Tupou I famously enacted the first code of law known as the “Vava’u Code”. It was where he committed the country of Tonga to God after his conversion to Christianity. More on the story can be found at an interpretation panel along Pouono Road.
Location: Between Kovana and Pouono Road, Neiafu.
29. Explore Vava’u by Bike
Although car rental is very affordable, an even more affordable and arguably more fun way to explore ‘Utu Vava’u is by bike. Experience Vava’u’s island life at a more relaxed and natural pace as you travel through villages to the sights we’ve mentioned here. Mountain bike hire is available from Cafe Tropicana, or check out Where to Rent Bicycles in Tonga for more options if available.
Location: Cafe Tropicana is located on Fatafehi Road, Neiafu town centre. See a recommended cycling route for Vava’u in The Best Bike Trails in Tonga.
30. Relax and Swim at ‘Otua Lea Beach
And we haven’t even begun to talk about the beaches! After a steep descent down a concrete pathway, you’ll emerge on the breathtaking white sands of Otua Lea Beach. The scenic beach makes for some stellar photos with its cliff formations and rock mounds, while the water is usually pleasant for a swim on a calm day. Legend has it that when the waves crashed onto the shore of this beach at their loudest, it was a signal to local warriors that their enemies were coming. Warriors would prepare an ambush on this beach, not allowing for their enemies to make their way inland. That’s why the beach is called ‘Otua-lea meaning “the god who speaks”.
Location: East coast of Ta’anea village. From Ta’anea, take the road east at the eastern end of the village. It’s approximately 800 m (875 yards) until you reach the upper car park for ‘Otua Lea Beach.
31. Admire the View from the ‘Esi o Lupepau’u Lookout
Yes, you read that right; it’s another lookout but one you’ll definitely not want to neglect if visiting or staying on the causeway-connected ‘Utungake Island – see nearby accommodations in Where to Stay in Vava’u. The lookout platform at ‘Esi o Lupepau’u provides unbeatable views of one of Vava’u’s inner harbours, Puatalefusi.
Location: Hala Utungake Road, halfway between Utungake village and Talihau village. The gravel access road to the viewpoint is approximately 200 m (220 yards) south of Utungake village. The road was really rough last time we checked, so we recommend parking at the bottom and walking approximately 150 m (160 yards) to the top.
32. Relax on Nuku Island
Vava’u is made up of around 50 islands, many of which are a great example of your picture-perfect paradise islands with white sandy beaches backed with swaying coconut palms. One such island is Nuku Island, not too far from Swallows Cave, which also makes it a popular stop for boat tours. Sit on its white sands, have a picnic and even snorkel around the island to spot eels in the sand. For stops on boat tours, see The Best Snorkelling in Vava’u: Top 10 Places to Snorkel.
Location: Nuku Island, off the southwest coast of Kapa Island.
33. Indulge in Vava’u’s Restaurants
The best way to describe Vava’u’s restaurant scene is that it has tons of hidden surprises. You’ll find Italian food, Spanish food and Chinese food with a tropical flair. For instance, the Bellavista Cafe & Restaurant serves up Tongan seafood dishes, as well as pizzas and pasta. A rustic roadside setting, The Basque Tavern is more than meets the eye with its ever-changing menu of delectable tapas. Try a Tongan dish like ota ika or a fresh fish burger at the Tongan Beach Resort. See more recommendations in the 15 Best Cafes & Restaurants in Vava’u.
Location: All over Vava’u! See the link above for recommendations and their locations.
34. Cool Off at ‘Ene’io Beach
Located just down the road from ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden, ‘Ene’io Beach is a private beach that’s open for visitors for free except on Sundays. Relax on the sand and enjoy the manmade “swimming pool” area where rocks and coral have been cleared for safer swimming, especially for kids. While you’re there, join the reputable garden tour – see above or in the 5 Best Guided Island Land Tours of Vava’u.
Location: East side of ‘Utu Vava’u (the main island), south of Tu’anikivale. Keep left at the fork in Tu’anikivale and ‘Ene’io is approximately 900 m (980 yards) down this road.
35. Taste Kava at a Faikava or Humpback Lodge
Engage in the local culture by joining a kava circle, locally known as faikava. In the Tongan culture, typically men sit in a circle around a kava bowl and socialise (just like going down to the local pub). Nevertheless, both men and women can sample this experience, as locals are usually very welcoming and proud to share this aspect of their culture. Locally-run guesthouses in Neiafu and Toula are the best ones to go to help organise this experience for you. Alternatively, Humpback Lodge hosts a weekly kava night with Tongan food and a string band! And just so you know what you’re drinking, kava is a slightly narcotic drink made from the ground-up root of a pepper plant grown across the South Pacific.
If you’re joining a faikava in a village, it’s customary to bring some cash (TOP$50) or kava to contribute. Learn more about aspects of the Tongan culture in The Guide to the Tongan Culture and Traditions.
Location: All over Vava’u! Humpback Lodge – Just across the causeway south of Toula village, Pangaimotu.
36. Head Out On an Island Hike
Traverse through the jungle, look out for coconut crabs and embrace nature on an island hike. Many of the island resorts are private islands where guests are free to wander at leisure. For instance, the Treasure Island Eco Resort has two walking trails, one to a historic tomb and another to a coconut crab cave. The Reef Resort also has an interesting trail through the bush-clad interior of Kapa Island to the breathtaking beach of Port Mourelle. Finally, the walk from Neiafu to the top of Mt Talau is a classic!
Location: ‘Euaiki Island, Kapa Island and Mt Talau National Park, Neiafu, ‘Utu Vava’u. Find out more about these hikes and their locations in the 10 Best Walks & Hikes in Tonga.
40. Browse the Neiafu Market
We’ve already talked about the handicraft aspect of the ‘Utukalongalu Market but the fruit and vegetable side is also well worth discovering! Get a great insight into grocery shopping in the South Pacific and admire piles of tropical fruit and vegetables, mingle with the locals and sample some of the sweetest pineapples and bananas you’ll ever try! The best time to go is on a Saturday morning, but it’s open throughout the day Monday to Saturday.
Location: On the waterfront of Halaevalu Wharf, Neiafu, ‘Utu Vava’u.
41. Spend the Afternoon at Tali e Hau Beach
A real hidden gem on the southeast coast of Koloa Island, connected to ‘Utu Vava’u via a causeway, Tali e Hau Beach is a privately owned and well-kept beach ideal for swimming, snorkelling and relaxing. Not to be confused with the beach in Talihau village on ‘Utungake, this beach is a little further south of ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden & Beach. Note that you should avoid swimming too close to the reef for your own safety. Also, note that this is a private beach, so ask the Visitor Information Centre (Neiafu) to call ahead on your behalf. You may be asked to make a small donation for maintenance (around TOP$10). See more beaches like this in the 10 Best Beaches in Vava’u.
Location: At Holeva village, continue on the main road south for approximately 500 m (550 yards) and turn left onto the first plantation road. Continue on the plantation road for approximately 460 m (500 yards) and the beach access road is on your right. Southeast coast of Koloa Island.
42. Drink and Be Merry at One of Neiafu’s Bars
Drink like a sailor in the yachtie’s paradise of Vava’u! Neiafu is a hub of restaurants with great bars, including The Basque Tavern on a hilltop, boasting awesome views of the Neiafu Harbour. The Mango Cafe is a popular spot with a full bar and restaurant right on the water’s edge. Le Galion has an uber-fun Tongan-style burlesque show once a week. Finally, check out the Bellavista Cafe & Restaurant for its excellent wine and beer selection along with views over the harbour.
There are also some excellent resorts with bars open to casual diners and drinkers, including the Tongan Beach Resort on ‘Utungake Island and the Mounu Island Resort with its beachfront Moby Dick Bar. Learn more about the best bars across the Kingdom in the 10 Best Bars in Tonga and The Ultimate Guide to Nightlife in Tonga.
Location: All over Vava’u! See the links above for recommended locations.
43. Stay at an Island Resort
Vava’u’s outer islands are a far cry from the bustling hub of Neiafu and the main island. For an experience of unbelievably beautiful islands with white sands, swaying coconut palms and surrounding turquoise waters, we recommend booking at least a couple of days at one of Vava’u’s outer island resorts. Note that some close for the whale season, but that’s all detailed in the 10 Best Resorts in Vava’u.
Location: All over Vava’u!
44. Catch an Event!
There’s always something going on in Vava’u, whether it’s the annual Blue Water Festival for yachties every September, Saturday rugby games taking place throughout September, November and December, or one of the church events for Christmas, Easter, New Year’s and Faka-Sepitema. Check out some examples in The Top Events & Festivals in Tonga.
Location: Central west coast of Kapa Island.
45. Enjoy a Private Dinner on the Beach
In Vava’u for a special occasion? Get your own private table set up on the beach at one of Vava’u’s romantic resorts. The island resorts in Vava’u go above and beyond for couples on their honeymoon or anniversary, so be sure to ask what they can do to help you treat your loved one to a special dining experience. Treasure Island Eco Resort, for instance, can serve you dinner under the stars while you feel your toes in the sand. Alternatively, pack your own picnic and head to one of the 10 Best Beaches in Vava’u which are almost always deserted (except for public holidays and weekends). For more experiences like this, check out the 10 Most Romantic Things to Do in Vava’u.
Location: All over Vava’u! Treasure Island Eco Resort is located on Euaiki Island, while beach locations are specified in the link above.
46. Do Some Stargazing
Once you get away from the urban lights, you won’t believe what the sky can look like! The remote islands of Vava’u are the perfect places to admire the stars and vividly see the Milky Way galaxy. The Mounu Island Resort has a telescope in its main building to enhance your stargazing experience, or you can simply lie on the beach and enjoy.
Location: All over Vava’u! See the 5 Best Places for Stargazing in Tonga for location recommendations.
47. Anchor Up at Port Mourelle
Famous for being a sheltered all-weather anchorage, Port Mourelle is a must-stop for yachties yet also happens to have a magnificent beach if you can get out there on a day trip. The white sands lined with coconut palms look like something from a postcard. If you’re not visiting via yacht or boat tour, you can also hike to this beach if staying at The Reef Resort – as listed in the 10 Best Walks & Hikes in Tonga.
Location: Central west coast of Kapa Island.
48. Experience the Buzz of the Saturday Fish Market
Halaevalu Wharf becomes a hive of activity on Saturday morning when fisherfolk arrive to sell last night’s catch. Locals flock to the wharf to rummage through the cooler bins in a frenzy of colourful reef fish, pelagic monsters and crayfish. Head down between 6 am and 8 am to join in the fun.
Location: Halaevalu Wharf, Neiafu, ‘Utu Vava’u.
49. Reconnect with Yourself with a Yoga Session
Arguably, self-guided yoga can be enjoyed from just about anywhere in Vava’u (how about one of the island lookouts?) but those staying at the Mandala Resort with TradeWinds have the pleasure of doing yoga at the island’s purpose-built beachfront pavilion. Not only is the experience designed for adults to reconnect with the mind, body and soul, but the resort itself is adults-only ensuring a peaceful experience. More about yoga retreats can be found in the 5 Beautiful Places to Experience Yoga in Tonga.
Location: Mandala Resort, between Mafana and Ofu Islands.
Finally, remember to enjoy some relaxation time – you’re on holiday, after all. At the resorts across Vava’u, you’ll hardly struggle to find a place to relax… But if you need some guidance, take a look at the 10 Glorious Ways to Relax in Tonga.
Location: All over Vava’u!
More Things to Do in Vava’u
That’s it for our list of the best things to do in Vava’u! If, for some ungodly reason, they weren’t enough, here are more ways to enjoy your time in Vava’u:
- The Food Guide to Vava’u: Places to Eat & Food Tours
- Vava’u Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get to (& Around) Vava’u
- Where to Stay in Vava’u: The Best Accommodations
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Complete Travel Guide to Vava’u.