Where to Watch the Birds in Tonga
Wildlife such as humpback whales and other diverse marine life take the limelight for many nature-lovers visiting Tonga, but did you know that Tonga also has an interesting array of bird species? Yes, the birder, twitcher or casual appreciator of wildlife will find some amazing birds in these remote Pacific Islands, from majestic seabirds like the white-tailed tropicbird to extremely rare endemic species like the Tongan megapode. See where to watch these birds and more in this list of the best places for bird watching in Tonga.
1. Maninita Island
An uninhabited island in the south of Vava’u, Maninita has become a safe haven for Tonga’s endemic and native birds. The island has had pest eradication programs in order to remove threats from the island so that more than 19 species of bird can reside safely on the island. Some of the land species include the wattled honeyeater, banded rail, Tongan whistler and white-collared kingfisher, while seabirds include black and brown noddies, white terns, black-winged petrels and the red-footed boobies. Bird-watching tours to the island are available from the Mandala Island Resort and Mounu Island Resort.
2. ‘Eua National Park
The island of ‘Eua, just a short flight or half-day ferry journey from Tongatapu, is unlike any other island in Tonga in that it’s the oldest island in Tonga and holds ancient rainforest. That rainforest can be found in the ‘Eua National Park, where it’s possible to spot red shining parrots, Pacific pigeons, crimson-crowned fruit-doves, Polynesian trillers, wattled honeyeaters, Polynesian starlings and the white-collared kingfisher. To explore the ‘Eua National Park, there are a number of guided walks available, as explained in 5 Best Hikes in ‘Eua.
3. ‘Eua South Coast
On the south coast of ‘Eua, particularly around the Laku Fa’anga Cliffs, you can spot an amazing array of seabirds, including brown boobies, brown and grey noddies, white terns and white-tailed tropicbirds. Many nest on the cliffs on these parts, which can be accessed on a self-guided walk to the Laku Fa’anga Cliff and Li’angahuo ‘a Maui Natural Archway. Again, check out the 5 Best Hikes in ‘Eua for more details.
4. Sopu Mudflats
On Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, the Sopu Mudflats are a good site for wading bird enthusiasts. The mudflats are located west of Nuku’alofa and contain species such as Pacific black duck, reef egrets, black-naped and crested terns, while less common species include white-faced and mangrove herons, white-collared kingfishers and Pacific swallows. The Sopu Mudflats are easy to access by road.
Those lucky enough to make it to this remote island in the far northern reaches of Tonga will possibly be rewarded with fantastic bird sightings. It’s home to the extremely rare and endemic Tongan megapode, where villagers from Angaha can organise boat transport across the island’s water-filled caldera to see this rare bird. Learn more about visiting this island in The Complete Guide to The Niuas.