Transport in Nuku’alofa
Tonga’s capital city, Nuku’alofa, is the main travel hub of the islands. Not only is the waterfront scattered with wharfs harbouring cruise ships and ferries to the outer islands, but Tonga’s main international airport is just 30 minutes away. The public transport here is also well connected to get you around Tongatapu, with two large bus stations, taxis and car rental services. Learn more about transport in Nuku’alofa with this list of the ways to get to Nuku’alofa, as well as ways to get around Nuku’alofa!
1. Nuku’alofa by Plane
Nuku’alofa’s nearest airport is Fua’amotu International Airport, approximately a 30-minute drive away. Direct flights to Fua’amotu Airport are available from New Zealand, Australia and Fiji. Coming from elsewhere, you’ll need to make connections in the airports in Auckland, Sydney or Nadi. See Which Airlines Fly Straight to Tonga? for more information. Flights between Tongatapu and Tonga’s islands of ‘Eua, Vava’u, Ha’apai and The Niuas are also available at the domestic terminal. Learn more about domestic flights in Where Can You Fly to in Tonga?
2. Nuku’alofa by Cruise
Several cruise liners have Nuku’alofa on the itinerary, with the city having one of only two ports for cruise ships available in Tonga. Vuna Wharf on the waterfront of Nuku’alofa is where cruise ships anchor, which is right beside the Royal Palace and short walk from the city centre. The cruise ships that visit Nuku’alofa include Holland America Line, P&O, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and much more. Learn more in 10 Cruises that Visit Tonga.
3. Taxis in Nuku’alofa
Taxis meet incoming flights at Fua’amotu Airport at both the domestic and international terminals. They charge TOP$30-$50 to travel between Nuku’alofa and the airport. Taxis between the domestic and international terminal cost around TOP$5. As for taking a taxi within the city of Nuku’alofa, trips are typically TOP$5-$8. Note that taxis have a “T” at the beginning of their number registration. Taxis don’t operate on Sundays. See more tips for taking a taxi in Tonga here.
4. Airport and Accommodation Shuttles
Airport shuttles meet incoming flights at Fua’amotu International Airport, taking passengers to Nuku’alofa for around TOP$15-$30 per person. Follow the blue “shuttle” signs outside the arrivals area of the international terminal to find them. Some accommodations in Nuku’alofa offer their own airport transfers, usually cheaper than a taxi. Be sure to book this with your accommodation prior to arrival, so that they’ll know to meet you on arrival.
5. Rental Cars in Nuku’alofa
Rental car depots are available in Nuku’alofa. Before you rent a car, check if you need a Visitor’s Drivers Licence. They can be picked up from the Traffic Department on Bypass Road across from St Andrews School. Rental cars typically cost TOP$50-$200 per day. Check out your options in Nuku’alofa in The Best Car Rentals in Tongatapu.
6. Ferries to Nuku’alofa
Nuku’alofa’s Faua Wharf is where the Interisland ferry terminal is for ferries heading to Tonga’s other islands. The MV Taka I Pomana and MV ‘Otuanga’ofa ferries depart to the island groups of Ha’apai, Vava’u and the Niuas. Ferries to ‘Eua can also be found at Faua Wharf on either the MV Maui, MV ‘Alaimoana or MV ‘Onemato. Up-to-date schedules can be found at the Ministry of Tourism’s Visitor Centre. Learn more about taking the ferry in Travelling in Tonga by Ferry.
7. Buses in Nuku’alofa
For travellers looking to explore more of Tongatapu, the cheapest way to do it is with the local bus services. There are two main bus stations in Nuku’alofa, both located on Vuna Road on the waterfront close to the Visitor Information Centre and Vuna Wharf. One station is for buses travelling to the west side (Hahake) of the island and the other is for the east side buses (Hihifo). Both bus stations are well signposted. Buses are also available for inner-city travel – look out for the “Vailoa”. Bus fares cost approximately TOP$1 to travel within the city, which must be paid with cash. Learn more about taking the bus in Tonga here.