Handy Things to Know About Biking in Tonga
Smooth roads, flat gradients and gorgeous tropical weather… How can you not want to cycle in Tonga?! There are three island groups where tourists have several bike hires available. You’ll be able to ride from natural wonder to historical attraction in Tongatapu, from monuments to gorgeous beaches in Ha’apai, from bustling towns to secluded beaches in Vava’u and much more! However, there are some things you need to know about cycling in Tonga, which we go through with these Tonga cycling tips.
While you are here, don’t forget to bookmark our complete bible to cycling in The Guide to Cycling in Tonga.
1. Check for Accommodations with Free Bike Hire
Bicycles are sometimes one of the perks of staying at the resorts in Tonga. This is especially the case for resorts in Ha’apai, while some accommodations in Vava’u also have heavily discounted bicycle rentals. Check out which resorts offer bike hire free of charge in Where to Rent Bicycles in Tonga.
2. Always Ask for the Newest Bike
Some resorts and bicycle rental companies have had bikes for a loooong time! It’s not uncommon to find rusty bicycles that have spent most of their lives in briny conditions so close to the sea. To ensure a more comfortable and reliable cycling experience, always ask for the newest bike.
3. Bring Your Own Puncture Repair Kit
If you plan on doing a long ride in Tonga, be sure to bring your own puncture repair kit from home. They are not readily available around Tonga and most bike hires don’t have them included. Puncture repair kits don’t take up too much room in your luggage and will be a lifesaver in the unlikely event that the worst should happen to your rental bike…
4. Be Aware of the Traffic Rules in Tonga
Cycling in Tonga often means cycling on main roads which will be shared with traffic. Don’t worry, most roads are quiet except for in and around Nuku’alofa, but it’s still important to have a good understanding of the Tongan road rules. For instance, traffic needs to keep left and you need to give way to vehicles turning right. Get a complete rundown on the road rules in How to Drive in Tonga + 10 Road Rules You Need to Know.
5. Ask for Advice on the Best Routes
Many of the roads are unmarked in Tonga, so heading off on the wrong road is pretty easy to do. Tell your rental company where you want to go and they should be able to suggest the best route or give you ideas on better places to go. Alternatively, check out The 5 Best Bike Trails in Tonga for more routes!
6. Know How to Handle Dogs
Although dogs have owners, dogs are left to roam free in Tonga. While most dogs are relaxed and as cute as ever, there are the occasional guard dogs that will have a whale of a time chasing you down the road. The best thing you can do if a dog is chasing you is to stop cycling and get off the bike. If that doesn’t calm the dog down then assertively shoo the dog. If the dog is overly aggressive, scream at it and pretend like you’re about to throw something at it.
7. Pack a Bike Properly if Bringing Your Own
Cycling enthusiasts know that nothing compares to your own bike, so know that you can bring your own bike to Tonga if you follow the airline guidelines.
Most airlines require bikes to be checked in as check-in luggage in either a bike bag or a bike box, which are usually available to purchase from overseas airports.
When packing your bike, you need to remove the handlebars or turn them sideways and remove the pedals or turn them in. Make sure the pressure of any nitrogen gas mountain bike struts is no more than 200 kPa (kilopascal) or 29 PSI (pounds per square inch) and that any cartridges for inflating tyres are less than 50 ml (1.6 oz) and contain a non-flammable gas. Seal and label the bike box/bag with your name and phone number.
8. Mountain Bikes are Better than Road Bikes on Tonga’s Roads
If you were planning on packing your road bike for Tonga, then forget it. Even Tonga’s sealed roads are much better suited for mountain bikes due to the occasional potholes and uneven terrain along the way. Although the free bikes for guests are Tonga’s resorts are usually road bikes, the bike rental companies only offer mountain bikes, knowing they are more comfortable on Tonga’s roads.
9. Distances Can Be Deceiving
While some islands are pretty small in Tonga, riding across islands can take a pretty long time. Combine the distance with the hot tropical climate and it can be a little too much for some people. Plan a route that suits your abilities and take enough food and drink on the road to keep you replenished. Check out The Cycling Times & Distances in Tonga LINK#TR001 to get a better understanding of how long it takes to cycle around Tonga.
10. Have Cash and an ID Prepared as a Security Deposit
Although most businesses in Tonga a pretty relaxed, it’s only fair for more careful bicycle rental companies to ask for some sort of security, such as a cash bond (usually TOP$100-$200) or an ID which will be refunded upon returning the bike undamaged. Bicycle rentals at accommodations will not typically ask for for a bond or ID (as they likely have this information from your accommodation booking).
More Tips for Cycling in Tonga
That’s it for our list of essential tips for cycling in Tonga. But that’s not the end of our advice! Learn more about having two-wheeled adventures in The Kingdom in the guides below:
- 5 Best Bike Trails in Tonga
- The Cycling Times & Distances in Tonga LINK#TR001
- The Guide to Cycling in Tonga
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in Tonga Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get Around Tonga and the 101 Best Things to Do in Tonga.