Food Activities in Ha’apai
Admittedly, Ha’apai is more about sand, kitesurf, sun and coconut palms than it is about food. Nevertheless, the foodie travellers can still find a few hidden gems of food if they know where to look. We’ll help you out with this list of things to do in Ha’apai for foodies!
For more about the restaurants, accommodation and how to get to Ha’apai, see The Foodie Guide to Ha’apai.
1. Browse the Pangai Market
At the centre of communities in Tonga is the local market, awash with tropical produce! The Pangai Market is the largest gathering of tropical fruit and vegetables in Ha’apai, making it well worth checking out if you’re a bit of a foodie. Mingle with the locals and browse the tropical fruit and vegetables presented in pyramid-shaped piles, bundles and in woven baskets. Grab yourself some healthy snacks or stock up on produce to spruce up your own tropical meals in Pangai’s self-catering accommodation. Check out the accommodations with kitchens in our 10 Best Accommodation in Ha’apai for Foodies.
Location: Corner of Waterfront and Palace Road.
2. Do a Tongan Village Culture Tour
A village on Ha’ano Island, which lies north of Foa and Nukunamo Islands, is where you’ll get a truly immersive island cultural experience. Matafonua Lodge and Sandy Beach Resort run half-day tours to Ha’ano village and island, where the local Women’s Group will give you a tour around the village, show you handicraft demonstrations, and the local school children will perform traditional dancing. Most importantly, the experience includes an authentic Tongan feast for lunch complete with a suckling pig. You’ll also have time to do some snorkelling off the beach or continue mingling with the locals before the boat picks you up. Transport is included in the tour, while all of the proceeds go to the Women’s Group.
Location: Ha’ano Island, departing from Matafonua Lodge and Sandy Beach Resort on Foa Island.
3. Fish for Dinner
Fishing is a way of life in Tonga and especially on the islands of Ha’apai, which has very little infrastructure. So whether you see fishing as an exciting sport or more of a cultural experience, the result is still (hopefully) going to be fresh food for your resort or a local community! The budget accommodation Captain Cook Hideaway on Uolevu Island offers authentic fishing trips with your local host. Alternatively, Matafonua Lodge and Sandy Beach Resort offer more of a sport or game-style of fishing, trolling for mahimahi, wahoo and tuna or popping for giant trevally. Check out more experiences like this in our 10 Luxury Activities in Ha’apai.
Location: Captain Cook Hideaway on Uolevu Island. Matafonua Lodge and Sandy Beach Resort on Foa Island.
4. Be Treated to a Private Beach Dinner
If celebrating a special occasion or “just because”, spend the evening just you and your loved one on your own private table on the beach. Sea Change Eco Retreat offers a private candlelit dinner experience on the beach, complimentary for guests who are on their meal plan (which is most guests, as the secluded resort on Uolevu Island is far from any shops or restaurants). You’ll have a choice of two or three main dishes, as well as a mouthwatering dessert. The resort also offers to prepare packed picnics for guests wishing to go on island hikes and find their own secluded lunch spot.
Location: Sea Change Eco Retreat, Uolevu Island.
5. Head Down to the Mariner’s Cafe for Barbecue Night
The Mariner’s Cafe is Ha’apai’s one real restaurant, located in the centre of Pangai. It serves up a wide range of Pacific dishes, as well as international favourites, from pizzas to burgers to fish dishes. They also have Tongan beer on tap, coffee made from homegrown beans and refreshing chilled coconuts. During the peak season (July-October), they also do Friday night barbecues with meat, fresh fish and all of the fixings! WiFi, bike rental and local information are also available here.
Location: Fau Road, Pangai, Lifuka Island.
6. Try Keki at the Local Bakery
The Matuku-ae-tau Bakery keeps the island stocked with bread and baked treats! Those staying at the Lindsay Guesthouse, which the bakery is located next to (see the 7 Best Budget Accommodation in Ha’apai), will certainly be able to smell the freshly-baked bread from the accommodation. Head there to try fresh coconut bread, jam-filled rolls and keki – Tongan-style doughnuts!
Location: Corner of Loto Kolo and Tuita Roads, Pangai, Lifuka Island.