Kayaking Tips for Tonga
A scattering of islands in the vast Pacific Ocean, Tonga is an off-the-beaten-track yet glorious destination for kayaking. You’ll find waters only crowded by coral and fish, seen through incredibly visible water, as you glide on a kayak powered by you. But what is it like to kayak in Tonga and what are the things you need to know? We tell all in this list of tips for kayaking in Tonga.
1. There are Two Ways to Kayak in Tonga
There are two main ways to enjoy kayaking in Tonga: hiring kayaks from a resort and doing a guided kayaking tour. Many of the waterfront accommodations in Tonga offer kayaks for guests, while Tonga also has kayaking tours available in Tongatapu, Ha’apai and Vava’u.
2. Resorts Hire Out Kayaks to Guests for Free
Guests at many resorts in Tonga have the opportunity to hire kayaks free of charge. Even if you’re not staying at the resort, resorts are usually happy to rent out kayaks to casual visitors for a small fee. Check out the list of resorts with kayaks in The Guide to Kayaking in Tonga.
3. Ask Resort Staff for the Best Places to Kayak
Before you grab a kayak and go, we recommend asking the resort staff to point you in the direction of the best places to kayak nearby. Not only will this enhance your kayaking experience, but you’ll also be made aware of any dangerous places, like strong rip currents, that are best avoided. Check out some of the top resorts with amazing places to kayak to in the 10 Best Resorts for Kayaking in Tonga.
4. Not All Resort’s Have Children’s Lifejackets
If you’re bringing the kids and want to go kayaking, make sure you inquire about children’s lifejackets before you arrive. Many of Tonga’s resorts, especially the budget ones, don’t have children’s lifejackets. If they don’t, then you might want to consider bringing your own, as recommended in the 10 Must-Have Kids Gadgets for a Trip to Tonga.
5. Guided Kayak Tours are Very Limited
A guided kayaking tour is the sure-fire way to experience the best scenery in Tonga by kayak, but this takes a bit of organisation. Don’t just expect to have guided kayak tours available where you’re staying. There are only three guided kayaking tour companies in Tonga, one in Tongatapu, one in Ha’apai and Vava’u and another one in Vava’u. If you want to get the very best kayaking experiences possible, then be sure to base yourself close to these kayaking companies, as listed in The Best Kayak Tours in Tonga.
6. You Don’t Need Prior Experience to Do a Kayaking Tour in Tonga
The kayaking tours in Tonga all use very stable sea kayaks, so you don’t need prior sea kayaking experience to have an amazing kayaking excursion in Tonga. Your guide will give you some instruction before and during your tour to make your paddling more effective. However, for some of the multi-day kayaking tours, such as with the Friendly Islands Kayak Company, it helps to have at least moderate fitness, as you’ll be kayaking for two to three hours a day.
7. The Best Time for Kayaking is Between May and January
For timing your trip to Tonga with the calmest water conditions that are ideal for kayaking, we recommend visiting between May and January. This is before the “wet season” in Tonga really kicks in and the humidity is a little less brutal but starts to increase in December. Learn more about the seasons in Tonga here.
8. Ask Resort Staff for Paddling Tips if Needed
While guided tours include a bit of instruction for kayaking, beginners can ask for some tips on paddling a kayak from resort staff if hiring a kayak from a resort. After all, you have to start somewhere. Some quick tips we can share is: hold the paddle with a light grip, paddle with swift, rhythmic and deep strokes to go forward, using sweeping strokes to manoeuvre and keep at a steady pace (i.e. don’t paddle as fast as you can). It’s best to practice in a lagoon or close to shore before setting off.
9. If You’re a Beginner, Don’t Kayak Alone
The ocean is a powerful force that can be unpredictable. For this reason, it’s never a good idea to go kayaking alone, especially if you’re a beginner. The more the merrier is a good mantra to stick to when it comes to kayaking.
10. Avoid Kayaking in Big Swells and Bad Weather
Check the weather before you head out. If there are large swells and strong winds, then this can make kayaking very difficult and possibly unsafe. Fog and heavy rain can impair visibility, which is a pretty scary thing if you can’t see land! Kayaking tour companies will only allow tours to go ahead if the weather and water conditions are safe enough to do so.