Where to See 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 southern part of the Vava’u island group, Maninita has become a safe haven for Tonga’s endemic and native birds. The island has had pest eradication programs 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 red-footed boobies. Bird-watching tours to the island are available from Mounu Island Resort and Treasure Island Eco Resort if boats are not being used for whale watching.
Location: Maninita, southern Vava’u.
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 (koki), Pacific pigeons, crimson-crowned fruit doves, Polynesian trillers, wattled honeyeaters, Polynesian starlings and white-collared kingfishers.
Location: ‘Eua National Park, east side of ‘Eua.
3. Lakufa’anga Cliffs
On the south coast of ‘Eua, particularly around Lakufa’anga Cliffs, you can spot an amazing array of seabirds, including brown boobies, brown and grey noddies, white terns and white-tailed tropicbirds. Many birds nest on the cliffs in these parts, which although difficult to witness nesting, can still be seen swooping overhead. Lakufa’anga Cliffs can be accessed on a self-guided walk/drive. Again, check out the 5 Best Hikes in ‘Eua or Sightseeing on ‘Eua: Top 10 Sights & Natural Attractions for more details.
Location: South coast of ‘Eua. Take the main road all of the way south until you reach a gate that you’ll need to open (and close behind you). The road turns into well-established grass trails for vehicles to explore the area.
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.
Location: Suburb of Sopu, west side of Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu.
Those lucky enough to make it to the remote island of Niuafo’ou 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.
Location: Niuafo’ou, The Niuas.
More About Bird Watching in Tonga
That’s it for the best bird watching in Tonga. For more wildlife encounters in The Kingdom, check out the following guides:
- 10 Animals & Birds Found in Tonga
- A Traveller’s Guide to Wildlife in Tonga
- 10 Best Wildlife Experiences in Tonga