How to Get Around Tonga
169 islands, five island groups and countless attractions, Tonga is a country that you’re going to want to explore! From inter-island travel to simply getting between the airport and your resort, there are a few options when it comes to getting around Tonga. Check out your Tonga transport options, as well as links to more informative guides, this list of ways to get around Tonga.
Before we dive into this Tonga transport guide, be sure to bookmark The Complete Travel Guide to Tonga and 31 Tips for Travelling in Tonga for even more essential tips for exploring Tonga.
1. Inter-Island Ferries
With 169 islands and five different island groups to explore, getting around by ferry is one way to do some island-hopping in Tonga. The inter-island ferries are the cheapest Tonga transport for getting between island groups, where there are multiple types of ferries to either make the trip faster but more pricey or slower and cheaper. Most ferry journeys are long in Tonga, with the popular Tongatapu to Vava’u route taking 16 to 23 hours on slow cargo and passenger ferries. Learn about the ferry routes, durations, fares and more in The Guide to Travelling in Tonga by Ferry.
2. Domestic Flights
Domestic flights are your alternative Tonga transport for getting between the island groups of Tonga. There is one domestic carrier in Tonga, which operates daily flights except for Sundays. Needless to say, flights are significantly more expensive than taking the ferry but are a faster and more comfortable way of getting between the islands. Find out more about flying in Tonga in The Guide to Flights in Tonga.
3. Car Rental
Car rental is available on the islands with the largest road network: Tongatapu and Vava’u Island (and its causeway-connected islands). Rental cars in Tonga are a mixed bag in terms of age and quality, with plenty of budget options available. Some visitors are required to purchase a Temporary Driving Licence to legally drive in Tonga. Learn everything you need to know about car rental in The Guide to Renting a Car in Tonga.
4. Local Buses
Local buses are by far the cheapest way to get around the islands of Tongatapu and Vava’u, with fares never going higher than TOP$3. The bus network in Tongatapu is frequent and rather extensive, with routes on the east side of the island, the west side and around Nuku’alofa. This is less so on Vava’u, where buses wait in Neiafu until full and often return from their destination immediately, making it unideal for a day trip. Get more information on buses in the How to Travel Around Tonga By Bus.
Taxis enthusiastically await arriving flights at the airports in Tongatapu and Vava’u taking you to where you need to go on the island. Taxis are identified by the “T” at the front of the vehicle’s registration plate, but most will also have a “taxi” sign on top of the vehicle. Taxi ranks can also be found in the centre of Nuku’alofa and Neiafu or you can call taxis to pick you up. Check out The Guide to Taxis in Tonga for more information on fares and how taxis work.
6. Bicycle Hire
Bicycle hire is available on Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Lifuka and Foa Islands in Ha’apai, and Vava’u. They provide a good way to explore the immediate area of your resort or the town. Most islands with bicycle hire are flat, with the exception of Vava’u which has a few hills. Bicycle hire is affordable at TOP$15-$30 per day or free at some resorts. Learn more about renting bikes as a mode of Tonga transport in our article, Where to Rent Bikes in Tonga.
7. Accommodation Transfers
Most accommodations in Tonga, whether they are guesthouses or resorts, offer their own transfers between the nearest ferry wharf or airport. They might be in the form of minivans if just travelling on land or a combination of vans and boats. Accommodation transfers are typically cheaper than taking a taxi and are often the only way to get to island resorts. Accommodation transfers should be arranged with accommodation providers before arrival on the island. You’ll also find that on islands like ‘Eua, accommodation providers are one of the only ways to get around, so will offer guests transport to attractions, towns and hiking trails.
8. Guided Tours
Another way to get around both on the land and on the water in Tonga is on a guided tour. Guided land tours or sightseeing tours transport you around islands in minivans or 4WD trucks, stopping at multiple attractions and highlights of the island. These types of tours are particularly popular in Tongatapu, Vava’u and ‘Eua. Guided tours can also be on the water in boat transport, which is particularly popular to see the sights of Vava’u, but a little less so in Tongatapu and Ha’apai to visit uninhabited islands and coral reefs. Check out some of the tours available in the Guided Tours in Tonga.
9. Airport Transfers
Some tour operators in Tonga also offer airport transfers between the airports of Tongatapu and Vava’u and your chosen accommodation. These are often the same price as accommodation transfers but offer a more of a private experience. Learn more in our guide, Tonga Airports: Your Airport Transfer Options.
10. Sailing Charters
Finally in this Tonga transport guide, for those who want to travel Tonga in style, sailing charters are available in abundance in Vava’u, as well as in a more limited fashion in Tongatapu and Ha’apai. In Vava’u both skippered and bareboat charters are available to cruise around the island group for one day to multiple days. Other sailing charters go between Tongatapu and Ha’apai, as well as around Ha’apai, in the whale season to incorporate some whale swimming experiences. Find out more in The Best Sailing Charters in Tonga. For more information on sailing your own yacht in Tonga, see The Sailing Guide to Tonga.
More About Tonga Transport and the Ways to Get Around Tonga
Need a few more tips for getting around Tonga? Check out the following guides:
- 10 Tips for Taking the Ferry in Tonga
- The Guide to Cruises Around Tonga
- How to Catch a Water Taxi in Tonga
That’s it for our Tonga transport guide and the ways to get around Tonga. Now you just need to know where to go to travel around Tonga! Check out out our itinerary compilations in The Best Tonga Itineraries for 2 Weeks, The Best Tonga Itineraries for 1 Week, The Best Tonga Itineraries for 5 Days and The Best Tonga Itineraries for a Weekend.