Transport to Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou
Tonga’s far-flung islands in the northern reaches of the archipelago are the final frontier for adventurous travellers. With very few flights and ferry services, those heading to Niuatoputapu or Niuafo’ou need to be willing to stay there for as long as it takes. Most visitors lucky enough to experience these arrive on yachts as part of a South Pacific sailing adventure. As for getting between the islands, which are 100 km (62 mi) apart, your best option is waiting for the ferry to make the 12-hour crossing. Needless to say, there’s no public transport on the islands, so you’ll need to rely on the friendly locals or your own two feet to get around. Get the details of the ways to get to and around The Niuas in this Niuas transport guide.
For more tips on visiting these islands, don’t miss The Complete Guide to The Niuas.
1. Flights to The Niuas – How to Get to Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou
Tonga’s domestic airline operates direct flights from Vava’u to Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou. Flights to Niuatoptapu typically operate once per week taking approximately 1 hr 10 mins, arriving at Mata’aho Airport which is an unsealed coral strip. Flights to Niuafo’ou are also weekly from Vava’u and take approximately 1 hr 30 mins, landing at Queen Lavinia which is a grass strip airfield. Note that flights are likely to be cancelled in bad weather and they are often fully booked months in advance. Learn more about flights, costs and more in The Guide to Domestic Flights in Tonga.
2. Ferries to The Niuas – How to Get to Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou
The Friendly Islands Shipping Agency runs a ferry service to Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou usually once a month, but schedules are erratic and need to be checked with the FISA or with the Tourist Information Centres. Conditions such as bad weather can delay ferry schedules. Ferries will typically depart from Vava’u and take approximately 16 hours to reach Niuatoputapu. The service then continues to Niuafo’ou taking approximately 12 hours, before the ferry makes its way back to Vava’u. Learn more about taking the ferry in The Guide to Interisland Ferry Travel in Tonga.
3. Sailing to The Niuas – How to Get to Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou
Most visitors to The Niuas arrive on their own sailing yachts. There are anchorages at both Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou. Before you arrive, you must submit an advance notice of arrival form (ANOA) to Tonga Customs no less than 24 hours before your ETA. The Q flag of your craft must be flown and contact made with Customs before mooring. Customs on Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou will tell you where to moor, and then you will need to transport them to your yacht. If they are not waiting for you on arrival into Niuatoputapu, then you can find the Government building in the village of Vaipoa as you approach the high school. In Niuafo’ou, the Government buildings are in Angaha village. Learn more about the customs process in The Sailing Guide to Tonga.
4. Fishing Boats – How to Get Around The Niuas
A popular trip that visitors want to make on Niuatoputapu is the crossing to Tafahi Island. Fishermen go between the islands daily (except Sundays), so you can negotiate to hitch a ride to do the crossing with them, usually returning the same day. Have cash available to pay your way. Learn more about hiking on Tafahi in the 15 Best Things to Do in The Niuas.
5. Locals’ Vans – How to Get Around The Niuas
With no public transport in The Niuas, getting around means hiking or hitching a ride with the locals. Some vans carry people around Niuatoputapu and Niuaofu’ou for a small fee, so have cash available. Roads and tracks circle both islands.
More About Niuas Transport and Ways to Get to and Around Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou
That’s it for our list of ways to get to and around Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou and our complete Niuas transport guide. For more information about Tonga’s lesser-visited islands, take a look at the following:
- 15 Best Things to Do in The Niuas
- 10 Best Things to Do on Niuatoputapu
- 10 Best Things to Do on Niuafo’ou
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Complete Travel Guide to The Niuas.