Amazing Activities 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 to dive sites, to fish for game species, snorkel in giant caves, island-hop, sail and, of course, swim 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 shops to hidden gems like the botanical gardens. Check out some of our recommendations for things to do in Vava’u!
For more tips, be sure to head to The Complete Guide to Vava’u.
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. We recommend walking back into town through the villages for interesting sights like churches, schools, 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 for approximately 2km (1.2 miles) until you see the entrance signs for the Mt Talau National Park.
2. 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. Check out who you can whale swim with in the 10 Best Whale Swim Tours in Vava’u.
3. Scuba Dive in Paradise
Available year-round, the 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 with incredible underwater seascapes like the Clan MacWilliam wreck, drop-offs, chimneys, caves, swim-throughs and the list goes on! Check out who are the best operators to dive with in the 7 Best Scuba Diving Tours in Vava’u. Plus, check out more activities like this in the 10 Adult-Only Activities in Vava’u.
4. 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 boat tours to Vava’u to enjoy unforgettable snorkelling in this sea cave.
5. Visit the ‘Ene’io Botanical Gardens
For something on dry land, check out the ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden. Learn about all sorts of interesting tropical plants and trees on a walking tour with the former Director for Agriculture and Forestry and garden curator, Haniteli Fa’anunu. Alternatively, there are birdwatching tours and cultural tours with cultural demonstrations. You can also join on a Sunday for one of the Tongan Sunday feasts. See more activities like this in the 10 Things To Do in Vava’u with Kids.
Location: On the eastern side of Vava’u Island, south of Tu’anikivale Village.
6. Check Out the Views from the ‘Utula’aina Lookout
In the north of Vava’u Island, the ‘Utula’aina Lookout is one of the islands’ best photo stops and whale-watching lookouts. After a drive down a rough dirt road (make sure your rental car has high clearance), you’ll reach the ‘Utula’aina Lookout with breathtaking views over Vava’u’s rugged northern cliffs, turquoise waters and white-sand beaches. There is also a turn off in the road leading down to one of the seen beaches, but it can be a little too rough for some cars, so we recommend parking up and walking down. The lookout can also be seen on some of the guided land tours in Vava’u.
Location: North of Holonga. The lookout is well signposted.
7. Shop for Arts and Crafts in Neiafu
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. Additionally, check out the Vava’u Pearl Centre, the Langafonua Handicraft Shop, VA Connect Craft Shop, Leonati Arts and more!
8. Jump on a Fishing Charter
Vava’u provides exciting opportunities to catch many highly-sought blue water species including marlin and giant trevally. Join Hakula Lodge who specialise in game fishing charters departing from their private dock. Alternatively, pop for giant trevally with Poppin’ Tonga based at Lucky’s Beach Houses. Several fishing charters can also be found along Neiafu’s waterfront offering epic fishing all year round! Check out the 10 Best Fishing Charters in Vava’u to compare your options. See more activities like this in the 7 Things to Do in Vava’u for Foodies.
9. 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 Mandala Resort. Trips are also offered by the Mounu Island Resort to find the endemic Tongan whistler. Finally, if you’re staying on the mainland, join a birdwatching tour at the ‘Ene’io Botanical Gardens (mentioned above). See more activities like this in the 10 Romantic Activities in Vava’u for Couples.
10. Hit the Kitesurfing Hotspots
With many islands lined 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 the Tonga Beach House, Mandala Resort or Treasure Island Eco Resort where they’ll show you their own kitesurfing grounds and offer trips to some of the best kitesurfing spots.