How to Save Money in ‘Eua
Let’s get one thing straight, ‘Eua is not even close to being an expensive holiday destination. It’s a backpacker’s paradise where all the accommodation is budget, transport to the island is under TOP$30, and your Pa’anga goes a long way when it comes to activities. You’ll also find whale tours cheaper here than on the mainland. But if you’re being extra frugal, we have a few tips for keeping the costs low in ‘Eua. Check them out in this list of tips for visiting ‘Eua on a budget!
While you’re here, you might also enjoy The Guide to ‘Eua on a Budget.
1. Travel to ‘Eua by Ferry
There are two ways to get to ‘Eua from Tongatapu, by plane or by ferry. The ferries are by far your cheapest option, costing approximately TOP$20-$25 per person. The trip takes 1-2h30mins, departing from the Queen Salote Wharf in Nuku’alofa. Check at the Visitor Information Centre in Nuku’alofa for up-to-date ferry schedules, but there tend to be fewer ferry options on Tuesdays and no ferries on Sundays.
2. Do the Free and Cheap Activities
‘Eua might be famous for its more pricey activities, such as whale watching, fishing and scuba diving, but actually, the majority of activities here are extremely affordable! There are self-guided hikes, which you only need to pay for transport, while guided hikes, 4WD tours, cultural crafting lessons, horse riding, bike hire and traditional umu feasts are all under TOP$100 (some well under). Get more inspiration for spending your time in ‘Eua without spending too much on activities in 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do in ‘Eua.
3. Consider Self-Catering
‘Eua isn’t exactly an island with a lot of dining options. There is the odd takeaway here and there, but chances are, it won’t be convenient to where you’re staying. While some accommodations offer meal services, expect TOP$10-$15 for breakfast, TOP$15-$20 for lunch and TOP$20-$30, the same accommodations are likely to offer self-catering facilities. Self-catering is by far the cheapest way to tackle the food situation on ‘Eua as a budget traveller. Supplies can be picked up from fruit and vegetable stalls, as well as fale koloa (convenience stores). If you’re arriving in ‘Eua via the ferry, it’s a good idea to bring a few necessities from the mainland.
4. Stay in Budget Accommodation
Ok, this isn’t exactly hard on ‘Eua considering that all the accommodation here is considerably cheaper than the mainland! Private rooms cost approximately TOP$75-$100 per night, while your cheapest option can be found at Taina’s Place, which offers backpacker dorm rooms, as well as camping sites, costing TOP$20-$30 a night. Find out more about your accommodation options in the 6 Best Budget Accommodation in ‘Eua.
5. Compare Accommodation Inclusions
If you’re being extra savvy about choosing accommodation, then it’s a good idea to compare the services and facilities included in your stay. For instance, some accommodations, such as Ovava Tree Lodge, offer free airport transfers but no self-catering facilities, while The Hideaway has an extra cost for airport/wharf transfers and a small fee for using the kitchen after the first use. The best accommodation option depends on your needs, so be sure to compare!
6. Have Cash Available
Your first hurdle in using a credit or debit card in ‘Eua is that not all accommodations (as far as we know, The Hideaway is the only accommodation that accepts credit card), shops and services accept electronic payment. Next, using an overseas credit card incurs currency exchange fees, unfavourable exchange rates and often a surcharge from the local business. Therefore, it’s always cheaper to pay with cash to avoid unnecessary fees. Although there are two banks on ‘Eua, there are no ATMs. There is one currency exchange bureau on the island. However, we recommend bringing enough cash with you. Learn more about the best payment methods for Tonga here.
7. Compare Your Options for Whale Swimming/Watching
Whale watching/swimming is an activity available between June and November but is best done between July and October. While there are several operators for whale swimming on the island, as well as whale watching, some have vastly different prices and inclusions. Some operators have limited snorkelling gear available, asking guests to bring their own, while some spend more time on the water than others. Compare what each whale tour includes in The Best Whale Tours in ‘Eua.