How to Experience Tonga’s Wildlife
Travel is not just about seeing different landscapes, immersing in the local culture, and, especially in Tonga’s case, soaking in the sun. It’s an opportunity to witness some new and interesting creatures, from flamboyant birds to majestic whales. Large fruitbats, a dizzying array of coral and fish, and beautiful birds also call Tonga home, so see how you can encounter Tonga’s amazing mammals, birds, fish and reptiles with this list of wildlife experiences in Tonga.
1. Swimming with Whales
The most famous wildlife experience in Tonga, swimming with whales is a unique and life-changing activity. Available between June and October each year when humpback whales migrate from Antarctica, swimming with whales in Tonga allows you to have one of the closest encounters possible with some of the world’s largest mammals. Learn more about this experience in detail in The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga.
2. Snorkelling and Scuba Diving in Caves and Coral Reefs
The snorkelling and scuba diving in Tonga’s tropical waters are incredible, not only for its array of mesmerising seascapes but for its marine life. Hundreds of fish and coral species can be found in Tonga, as well as turtles, reef sharks, large pelagic fish, manta rays, eagle rays and the list goes on and on. You can snorkel and scuba dive in just about every island group in Tonga, but for the best places, check out The Guide to Snorkelling in Tonga and The Guide to Scuba Diving in Tonga.
3. Seeing the Flying Foxes of Kolovai
On the main island of Tonga, Tongatapu, the village of Kolovai is a hotspot for the protected Pacific flying fox. The eastern side village is considered a sanctuary for this large bat species that can be seen in colonies hanging from the trees all around the village. You can simply drive there or take a sightseeing tour to check them out.
4. Bird Watching at Maninita Island
While marine life tends to take all the limelight in Tonga, there are some interesting bird species to admire too. One of the best places to go for bird watching is the island of Maninita in the northern Vava’u Group. Boat tours from Mounu Island Resort and Mandala Island Resort can take you out to the island to possibly see around 19 different species of birds, including the endemic Tongan whistler. See the 5 Best Places for Bird Watching in Tonga for more information about The Kingdom’s birds.
5. Bird Watching in the ‘Eua National Park
More bird watching can be enjoyed in Tonga’s largest national park, the ‘Eua National Park. Located on Tonga’s oldest island, the rainforest here harbours an array of interesting land birds such as red shining parrots, Pacific pigeons, crimson-crowned fruit-doves, Polynesian trillers, wattled honeyeaters, Polynesian starlings and the white-collared kingfisher. Check out some of the walks available in the national park in the 5 Best Hikes in ‘Eua.
6. Watching Nesting Seabirds on the South Coast of ‘Eua
Speaking of ‘Eua, the island also has another birdy hotspot on the south coast. Seabirds nest around the Laku Fa’anga Cliffs where a self-guided walk allows you to admire all sorts of birds flying to and from the cliffs, including brown boobies, brown and grey noddies, white terns and white-tailed tropicbirds. Again, check out the 5 Best Hikes in ‘Eua for information on how to get there.
7. Checking Out the Fishing Pigs of Mu’a
Pigs! There are so many pigs in Tonga, whether they are roaming the streets or, well, crackling on a spitroast. The most famous pigs, however, are the Fishing Pigs in the village of Mu’a. The pigs in this village on the eastern side of Tongatapu can be seen in the mudflats sticking their heads in the water to “fish” for food.