10 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday© TongaPocketGuide.com
10 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday

10 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday

© TongaPocketGuide.com

What to Do on Sundays in Tonga

You’ve probably heard how things slow down on a Sunday in Tonga. Sunday is a sacred day in Tonga, thus the reason why many businesses and transport are closed on this day. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to do on a Sunday in Tonga. From joining the locals in church for a real cultural experience to visiting some of Tonga’s stunning outer islands, there are quite a few options for travellers to continue enjoying an amazing holiday in Tonga on a Sunday. We go over a few ideas in this list of things to do in Tonga on a Sunday.

Sunday Customs in Tonga

You can be fined if caught by police in a public place “engaged in any game, sport, dancing or fishing, whether organised or not” – see the Order in Public Places Act. Guesthouses are not resorts; so if they typically offer food throughout the week, they might not offer food and other services on a Sunday. Taxi services are closed on Sunday but can be arranged if booked ahead. Car rentals need to be arranged before Sunday. Different islands have different rules about sightseeing, beaches, etc. on a Sunday, so enquire at your resort before you head out (or see some tips in the guide below).

Learn more about the Sunday protocol in our guide, Tonga Etiquette: Respecting the Local Customs.

10 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday© TongaPocketGuide.com

1. Go on a Day Trip to Pangaimotu Island

If you’re based on Tongatapu during your time in Tonga, save Sunday for heading to one of the gorgeous outer islands, like Pangaimotu Island! Head to this outer island for a day of sea, sand and, hopefully, sun! Sunday is the day to do this experience when the boat schedule to the island is at its most frequent. On Sundays, the boat departs from Faua Wharf at 11 am and 12 pm and returns at 4 pm and 5/6 pm. Snorkelling gear is available to rent for a small fee. Bring your own lunch, water and any other supplies you may need. See more trips like this in the 10 Best Island Day Trips from Nuku’alofa.

Location: Boats depart from Faua Wharf, just behind the Ngutulei Restaurant and the fish market, Vuna Road (opposite Davina House), Ma’ufanga, Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu.

5 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday© Kaylie Tongia

2. Experience a Tongan Church Service

Do what Tongans do on a Sunday and go to church! Whether you’re religious or not, visitors are welcome to church services to experience the passion of the Tongans’ worship. Church services are alive with beautiful harmonious singing, even accompanied by brass bands in some churches. Check out some of the church services that are best for visitors in the 10 Best Churches in Tonga for Tourists. Plus, learn more about their faith in The Guide to the Religions in Tonga.

Location: All over Tonga! See the link above for recommended churches and their locations.

5 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday(c) tongapocketguide.com

3. Do Some Sightseeing (with Some Exceptions)

Sunday is a good day to enjoy some independent sightseeing, at least, in some island groups. That’s right, different island groups have different rules for sights, but you’re typically Ok for visiting natural and historical attractions on Tongatapu (except the Ha’amonga ‘a Maui is closed on Sunday), Ha’apai and ‘Eua on a Sunday. Vava’u, however, is known for having police patrols at the government-owned sights on a Sunday, which is all but the ‘Utula’aina Lookout – serious stuff!

So, whether it’s by bicycle or car (just make sure you rent your vehicle before Sunday), you can hit the road and check out some of the amazing sights around Tonga, whether it’s the blowholes on Tongatapu, the beaches in Ha’apai, the hiking trails in ‘Eua, or the one lookout in Vava’u. Get some ideas starting with our 10 Most Iconic Sights & Landmarks in Tonga.

Location: All over Tonga (but mostly Tongatapu, ‘Eua and Ha’apai). See some self-guided itineraries in our Day Trips category.

5 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday© TongaPocketGuide.com

4. Join a Sightseeing Tour of Tongatapu

To enhance the sightseeing experience mentioned above, how about joining a sightseeing tour of Tongatapu?! That’s right, tours of Tonga’s main island are allowed to operate on a Sunday (just be sure to book ahead for Sunday), which makes it easy to witness the Mapua ‘a Vaea Blowholes, oggle at Tsunami Rock, see the historical Terraced Tombs, and scratch your head at the Three-Headed Coconut Tree! See some of your tour options in the 5 Best Guided Island Land Tours of Tongatapu.

Location: Tongatapu. Most tours offer accommodation transfers from Nuku’alofa or have a meeting point in Nuku’alofa.

10 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday© TongaPocketGuide.com

5. Experience Teta Tours’ Sunday Tour

Immerse in the Tongan culture and get a fantastic insight into the typical Sunday for a Tongan on Teta Tours & Travel‘s Sunday tour. After being picked up at your accommodation on Tongatapu, the morning starts by experiencing a Sunday church service with unforgettable and uplifting harmonies. You’ll then travel to the iconic ‘Anahulu Caves, not only to explore this amazing limestone cave with its dramatic formations and swimming pool but for a typically Tongan Sunday meal, an umu feast!

Location: Tongatapu. Transfers are provided.

5 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday© TongaPocketGuide.com

6. Have a Meal at a Restaurant

Although most restaurants take Sunday off, some stay open on a Sunday, especially in more touristy places. To make things easier, here are some of the restaurants we know and love in Tonga that are open on Sunday:

  • Seaview Lodge & Restaurant, Tongatapu
  • Ngutulei Bar & Restaurant, Tongatapu
  • Mi-Chef Cafe, Tongatapu
  • Tanoa International Dateline Hotel, Tongatapu
  • Little Italy Hotel, Tongatapu (restaurant open on Sunday only for guests)
  • Matafonua Lodge, Ha’apai (book ahead)
  • Humpback Lodge, Vava’u
  • The Harbourview, Vava’u
  • Mango Cafe, Vava’u
  • The Kraken, Vava’u
  • Tongan Beach Resort, Vava’u
  • Sam’s Restaurant, Vava’u

Check out more about Tonga’s food scene in the 20 Best Restaurants in Tonga and The Guide to the Food in Tonga.

Location: Tongatapu and Vava’u.

5 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday© TongaPocketGuide.com

7. Experience a Sunday Umu

Take your dining to the next level by experiencing a Sunday meal the way Tongans do; with a Sunday umu. An umu is food cooked in a hot-rock oven and has remained a Tongan tradition for centuries. Sample this type of cuisine at special Sunday umu buffets for lunch at the Oholei Beach Resort and Katea Retreat on Tongatapu, the latter with string band entertainment, as well as at Fanga ‘o Ipu Lahi Resort in Ha’apai (book ahead for all). If you’re staying at a guesthouse in ‘Eua or Ha’apai, express your interest in experiencing an umu to your host and they may be able to arrange for you to join their family’s umu (still bring cash or something to offer – kids love ice cream).

Location: All over Tonga! Oholei Beach Resort is located Lavengatonga and Katea Retreat is in Nakolo, both on the southeast coast of Tongatapu. Fanga ‘o Ipu Lahi Resort is located on the east coast of Lifuka.

5 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday© TongaPocketGuide.com

8. Head to the Beach (Depending on the Island Group)

Again, this one has different rules for different island groups but, generally, Sunday is a good day to enjoy a beach day. Some beaches in Tongatapu and Ha’apai are ideal for sunbathing and swimming on a Sunday. If you’re on public beaches, which are typically beaches not directly in front of a resort, be sure to wear a T-shirt, rash vest and/or sarong, even when swimming to respect the local customs. Note that you generally cannot swim at beaches on ‘Eua on a Sunday unless you’re at Blue Water Retreat. We have also had some reports of some public beaches being patrolled on Sunday in Vava’u, so it’s best to stick to your resort’s beach for Sunday swimming.

Location: All over Tonga! For beach recommendations, take a look at the 20 Best Beaches in Tonga.

10 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday© TongaPocketGuide.com

9. Enjoy an Island Hike

There’s something special about moving through a village, forest or coastline at a more natural pace. Get a slice of village life by having a walk around the village you’re staying in, or make Sunday the day you embark on an adventure into the ‘Eua National Park and watch the giant banyan trees, sights of koki (shining parrot) and dramatic lookouts unfold. Take a look at the 10 Best Walks & Hikes in Tonga for your Sunday ramble inspiration.

Location: All over Tonga! See the link above for recommendations and their locations.

10 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday© TongaPocketGuide.com

10. Relax at a Resort

Finally, experience Sunday in another way that Tongans do – by resting! Sunday is a good time to kick back at your resort, sunbathe on the beach, go for a snorkel and sample some of the goodies on the menu you’ve been meaning to try. While the rest of Tonga shuts down for Sunday, resorts and hotels are still on making them a good place to be on a Sunday. Check out some of the top resorts to check-in at in our 30 Best Resorts in Tonga.

Location: All over Tonga! See the link above for recommendations and their locations.

5 Things to Do in Tonga on a Sunday© TongaPocketGuide.com

More About Sundays in Tonga

That’s it for the guide to Sundays in Tonga. For more inspiration for things to do, as well as advice on respecting the local customs, take a look at more of our insightful guides:

Finally, inspire yourself with more experiences with the 101 Best Things to Do in Tonga: The Ultimate List. Plus, get even more tips in The Complete Travel Guide to Tonga.


Laura (Lola) S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Tonga. She knows the islands inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Tonga’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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