Food-Related Experiences on Tongatapu
Feasts, fishing and gathering are all part of the Tongan way of life. Get a taste for the lifestyle and culture for yourself through the many foodie experiences on Tongatapu!
Tonga’s main island is as good as any to experience the food culture of Tonga, with cultural buffets and shows found across the island, as well as markets, artisans, local restaurants and more. Find out where you can get your foodie fix in this list of the things to do on Tongatapu for foodies!
While you’re here, you might also like The Foodie Guide to Tongatapu.
1. Go to a Tongan Feast and Cultural Show
The most foodie experiences you’ll find outside of Nuku’alofa are the amazing Tongan dinner shows complete with a feast! Tongan feasts are known across the South Pacific for their grand scale, which you’ll experience when going to any of the cultural dinner shows, such as at Oholei Resort & Hina Cave or the Vakaloa Beach Resort. Both shows feature an array of up to 30 different dishes made with local ingredients, such as seafood, yams, taro, sweet potatoes and cassava. Compare the shows to go to in The Best Cultural Shows on Tongatapu.
Location: All over Tongatapu
2. Browse the Local Markets and Stalls
It’s hard not to notice the market stalls full of tropical fruit and vegetables set up alongside Tongatapu’s roads. When doing a road trip visiting all of the island’s historical and natural sights (as listed in the 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do on Tongatapu), the roadside stalls are your go-to to pick up some healthy road trip snacks, from finger bananas to peanuts! The must-visit market for foodies, however, is the Talamahu Market in the centre of Nuku’alofa, which is a huge gathering of island produce sold in piles or woven baskets.
Location: Talamahu Market is located in central Nuku’alofa on Salote Road
3. Try Local Beers, Juices and Cocktails at the Bars
Tonga is home to its own array of drinks, such as Maui, TIKI pale ale, Tonga Lager and ‘otai. Try some of these local beverages at one of the many bars found across the island between the resort bars and the vibrant bars and nightclubs in Nuku’alofa. See where to go in The Ultimate Guide to the Nightlife on Tongatapu, as well as what drinks to try in the 10 Drinks in Tonga You Have to Try.
Location: All around Tongatapu
4. Taste the National Drink, Kava
The national drink of Tonga deserves its own mention, as it has so much tradition surrounding it. Two places you can try kava for yourself in Tongatapu include during the Polynesian Night at the Fafa Island Resort, as well as during a culture tour at Ancient Tonga in Nuku’alofa (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). In both cases, you’ll learn about some of the traditions surrounding this narcotic drink made with the roots of a pepper plant.
Location: Fafa Island and Ancient Tonga in Nuku’alofa
5. Experience a Traditional Umu
Offering a range of cultural tours and workshops, Ancient Tonga (on Viator and Tripadvisor) is the place to go to learn and experience the culture of Tonga. Aside from educating visitors on Tongan arts, crafts, medicine and Kava, the culture centre also shows you how to prepare an “umu”. An umu is a traditional cooking method using an underground oven, which slow cooks meats and vegetables wrapped in banana leaves. See more foodie experiences in Nuku’alofa here.
Location: Tamakautonga Road, Fangaloto, Nuku’alofa
6. Take a Tour of a Coffee Roaster and Cassava Chip Factory
One of the artisan products completely produced in Tongatapu is Tupu’Anga Coffee and their “Manioke Chips”. While sold in supermarkets and gifts stores throughout the island, it’s worth going straight to the source to sample coffee and Tongan treats at the Tupu’Anga Cafe. Tours of the roastery and cassava chip factory are also available on request.
Location: Near the southern end of Umusi Road in eastern Nuku’alofa
7. Check out the Tu’imatamoana Fish Market
One of the markets that many tourists miss in Nuku’alofa is the Tu’imatamoana Fish Market. Available every day, except Sundays, the fishing boats come in first thing in the morning, dropping off bags of seaweed, oysters and octopus at the fish market stalls. Taped-up crabs, rows and rows of tropical fish and much more are for sale.
Location: Faua Wharf, Nuku’alofa
8. Eat Out in Nuku’alofa or Tongatapu’s Resort Restaurants
Try tasty local dishes like ota ika, lu, topai dumplings and lo’i feke at the restaurants around Tongatapu. International cuisine is also well-represented across Nuku’alofa city and Tongatapu’s resorts. Learn more about these restaurants in our Guide to the Best Eats & Restaurants on Tongatapu.
9. Catch Dinner on a Fishing Charter
The fish taste so good around Tongatapu that even the pigs are fishing! (See the Fishing Pigs off the coast of Mu’a village to see what we’re talking about). Resorts such as Ha’atafu Beach Resort offer guests the opportunity to go fishing with them in the morning to get food for the resort. Alternatively, there are a few fantastic fishing charters departing from Faua Wharf in Nuku’alofa, which you can find out more about in The Best Fishing Charters on Tongatapu.