How to Travel More Sustainably in Tonga: Tips for an Eco-Friendly Trip
Tonga is home to some of the most stunning natural underwater landscapes and islands in the world. If you’re not already environmentally conscious, then you certainly will be after you’ve seen some of the amazing wildlife and pristine pockets of paradise that are well worth protecting. Tonga certainly has a way of awakening the inner eco-warrior. Get a headstart on treating Tonga and the planet with a little more care by following our tips for travelling more sustainably in Tonga.
Sustainable Destination and Planning Tips
1. Travel in the Low Season to Prevent Overtourism
The low season offers a sustainable, cheaper and uncrowded travel experience in Tonga. Book your trip from November to May (avoiding the Christmas holidays) to save money and help preserve Tonga. Check out more benefits of travelling in the low season in our 10 Reasons to Travel in the Low Season in Tonga.
2. Head to Less-Visited Destinations
Most holidaymakers head to Neiafu (Vava’u) and Nuku’alofa (Tongatapu). Avoid spending too long in these hotspots to reduce the strain on their limited infrastructure. Check out some lesser-visited yet awesome destinations in our Guide to the Lesser Travelled Islands of Tonga.
3. Stay Longer to Make the Most of Your Carbon Footprint
It is no secret that your flight to Tonga will have the largest carbon impact of your trip. Consider extending your stay (or waiting until you can) to make up for the heavy environmental cost of your flight. Plan a longer trip with the help of The Best Tonga Itineraries for 2 Weeks.
Low-Waste Packing Tips
4. Pack Reusable Items
Resuseables, such as metal straws, water bottles and tote bags, can help save dozens of plastic from going into landfills. By packing your own (and making sure you use them), you’ll help reduce the need for single-use items in your trip and keep your waste to a minimum. By the way, check out reusable water bottles that make Tonga’s tap water safe to drink in the 5 Ways to Make Sure the Water is Safe to Drink in Tonga.
5. Use Shampoo Bars Instead of Your Resort’s Shampoo Bottles
Shampoo bars are both a great way to save money on haircare and reduce the amount of plastic used. Plus, this will also help you avoid the use of mini-toiletries in your resort that are extremely plastic-inefficient.
6. Take Your Rubbish with You
When exploring Tonga, avoid littering by packing a small bag to take your rubbish with you. Know that aerosol sprays, batteries and many plastics, for example, are not properly recycled in Tonga, so take them back home where you are more likely to recycle them properly (better yet, avoid bringing them at all).
7. Pass On or Return Brochures, Guides and Maps
Travel pamphlets and brochures are everywhere in Tonga and many of them are super useful. On departure, what about leaving them behind in your accommodation’s lobby, for example, so they are used a second time?
8. Use Reef Safe Sunscreen
Standard sunscreens are made with oxybenzone and octinoxate that are harmful to Tonga’s coral. Use reef safe sunscreen to enjoy Tonga’s amazing coral reefs without damaging them. Check out our favourites in the 10 Best Natural Sunscreens for Tonga.
9. Use Natural Mosquito Repellent
DEET is the main component of standard insect repellents that contaminates soil, waterways and isn’t all that great for you either. Use lemon and eucalyptus sprays, cover your arms and legs, or use one of the other 10 Best Natural Mosquito Repellents for Tonga.
Sustainable Transportation Tips
10. Use Public Transport Wherever Possible
Buses and island-hopping via ferry are truly a local’s experience and much better for the planet than taxis and flights. Public transport results in fewer carbon emissions per head. See all of your options for travelling in the Tonga Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get Around Tonga.
11. Offset the Carbon Cost of Your Flight
Pretty much every airline offers options to offset the carbon footprint of your flight. It’s only a few dollars but can do miracles! If you are after a more comprehensive carbon offsetting solution, however, look into myclimate.org or flygrn.com that offer great options.
12. Use Shared Airport Transfers or Buses Instead of Taxis
Not only will using shared airport transfers or buses save you money, but it will reduce the amount of gas used per passenger. Most shared airport shuttles offer quick door-to-door services while buses take you pretty much anywhere on Tongatapu. Learn more about your airport transfer options in the Tonga Airports: Your Airport Transfer Options.
13. Non-Stop Flights are Less Impactful
It is no secret that flying direct can save you a lot of time. But did you know that it also results in a lower carbon footprint? Making your total flight time shorter reduces the carbon footprint of your trip and we’re all better for it. Check out where you can take direct flights to Tonga using Which Airlines Fly to Tonga?
Eco-Friendly Tips for Staying in Tonga Resorts
14. Pick Eco-Resorts
Many resorts in Tonga make a significant effort to offer their clientele a more sustainable stay. By picking accommodations that positively impact their surroundings, you’ll turn your trip into something good for you, the local community and the planet. Check out some of our picks in the 10 Best Eco Resorts in Tonga.
15. Hang-Dry Your Towel to Save on Resort Laundries
Resort laundries are notoriously heavy on chemical detergent and water usage, so consider keeping your towel for a few days. All you’ve got to do is to hang your towel to dry instead of leaving it on the floor; the housekeeping staff will get the message.
17. Turn Off the Light, TV and A/C in Your Resort/Hotel Room
If you’re lucky enough to have A/C at your resort or hotel in Tonga, it can be cooled in a matter of minutes so there’s no need to let the air-con work all day. Wherever you stay, do a quick check around your room and turn off all the appliances to help decrease the power consumption of your stay.
18. Close Your Windows When Using the A/C in Your Hotel/Resort
Air-conditioning machines have to work extra hard when set in larger spaces… And there is no larger space than the Tonga outdoors! Make sure to keep your doors and windows closed when cranking up the A/C in your hotel room. It will significantly reduce your power usage.
19. Use Your Room’s “Do Not Disturb” Sign
Avoid unnecessary cleaning and chemicals by placing the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your room’s door. This way, it will not be cleaned daily. Some resorts even offer rewards for guests doing this, such as food discounts, for example.
20. Bring Your Own Soap and Travel Soapbox
Instead of using mini-toiletries in resorts that are extremely plastic-inefficient, use your own soap (and reusable soapbox for easy travel)! Not only will it reduce waste, but it means that you can stick to your loved and trusted brand and avoid any nasty surprises.
21. If Using Resort Consumables, Take Any Leftovers with You
If you choose to use the mini-toiletries included in your resort’s room, take them with you when you leave. No matter how much of it you have used, it will be discarded by the housekeeping staff and that’d be a shame.
22. Try Backpackers and Guesthouses
It is no secret that having more people in one room creates less of an environmental impact, so what about giving a shot to backpacker hostels or guesthouses? You can even book a full room for your whole party and have a holiday style stay. Check out some of our top picks in the 6 Best Backpacker Hostels on Tongatapu and 10 Best Guesthouses in Tonga.
Ecotourism Activities in Tonga
23. Choose Ethical Whale Swimming Companies
Many Tonga whale tours make a significant effort to offer a more sustainable experience for both travellers and the whales. Read our recommendations and reviews to make sure you’re choosing a more ethical whale tour. Learn more about ethical whale swimming in Is it Safe to Swim with Whales in Tonga? and The Best Place to Swim with Whales in Tonga.
24. Choose Low Impact Experiences
Going on a walk, snorkelling, kayaking and relaxing by the beach are not just some of the most memorable experiences in Tonga, but they are also some of the most sustainable. The scenery above and below the surface is, arguably, the country’s biggest selling point so why not enjoy it without the fluff of, say, another boat tour?
25. Do Not Stand on Coral
Speaking of snorkelling and relaxing at the beach, another thing to be mindful of when looking to travel more sustainably in Tonga is how you impact coral. Try not to stand on coral or break any with your flippers; it takes years to regrow. Enjoy coral from a safe distance.
26. If You See Some Litter, Pick It Up
Not all travellers and locals are mindful. If you see some litter, pick it up and dispose of it properly. This will help keep Tonga safer and potentially save some curious wildlife from choking.
Sustainability Tips in Tonga for Food and Eating Out
27. Do Not Be Afraid to Say “No” to Plastic in Restaurants
Many cafes and restaurants in Tonga still use plastic straws and utensils. Don’t be afraid to say no to them and use your own reusable alternative (or, you know, simply drink from the cup). Our team does this regularly and we never receive as much as a bad look.
28. Eat Local
When travelling, there’s no need to have the same imported treats from home. Try something local! Fresh locally sourced ingredients are better for the planet. Plus, you’ll hardly regret trying some of the local delicacies. We guarantee it! Check out some local eats in the 6 Unique Foods in Tonga You Have to Try and 10 Exotic Fruits in Tonga You Have to Try.
29. Try Tonga’s Vegetarian or Vegan Food
Travelling is a great opportunity to try new things. You may have heard that plant-based food is easier on the planet, so why not give a shot at a vegetarian meal or two during your trip? You may discover something new and delicious. Plus, it will help reduce your impact in a multitude of ways.
More About Ecotourism and Travelling Sustainably in Tonga
That’s it for our official list of tips on ways to travel more sustainably in Tonga but is by no means the end of our eco-advice! Check out these other guides for the eco-conscious traveller:
- How to Pick the Best Eco-Stay in Tonga for You
- 10 Best Eco Resorts in Tonga
- 5 Best Eco-Resorts in Vava’u
- 7 Best Eco-Resorts in Ha’apai
- 10 Best Natural Sunscreens for Tonga
- 5 Best Natural Sunscreens for Kids & Babies
- 10 Best Natural Mosquito Repellents for Tonga