The Best Places to Eat in Tongatapu
As important as swimming with whales, checking out amazing crafts at the markets, scuba diving in vibrant reefs, and seeing ancient Polynesian monuments, eating in Tongatapu is a top Tongan experience! From authentic island dishes to international favourites made with fresh local produce, it can all be experienced on Tonga’s main island. Check out some of the top recommendations in the nation’s capital, Nuku’alofa, as well as around the island and off-shore islands in Tongatapu in this guide to the best restaurants in Tongatapu.
For more about the restaurants just in Nuku’alofa, see Guide to the Best Eats & Restaurants in Nuku’alofa.
5 Tips for Eating Out in Nuku’alofa
- Tips are not expected for dining in Tongatapu but are appreciated
- The drinking age in Tonga is 18 years old
- Tongan portions are typically HUGE, so sharing a main and a side between two is usually a good way to do for those with lighter appetites, otherwise…
- Take a doggy bag! Getting your leftover meal to-go is common practice in Tongatapu
- Local meat, seafood and poultry are generally safe to eat.
Tongan Restaurants in Tongatapu
Tongan dining can be experienced in a couple of different ways in Tongatapu. Restaurants and takeaways in Nuku’alofa offer a selection of Tongan dishes with sides of cassava, taro, etc. Alternatively, get a taste of a whole range of Tongan food at one of Tongatapu’s feasts and cultural shows!
Tongan Restaurants in Nuku’alofa
Tonga’s capital is home to a range of Tongan diners selling authentic dishes like Ota Ika, Lu and more. Try Mama’s Cafe (Laifone Road) or “Mum’s Cafe” and Talahiva Restaurant (Taufa’ahau Road) for meals for less than TOP$10! See more recommendations like this in our Top Cheap Eats in Nuku’alofa.
For fresh Tongan seafood prepared in a mix of Tongan, Asian and Western dishes, head to 12 Seafoods Restaurant (Vuna Road) at Faua Wharf where the fishing boats deliver. Or for a more formal dine-in experience, The Waterfront Restaurant just across the road from Faua Wharf is a good option with Tongan-European fusion food.
Tongan Buffets and Cultural Shows
A fun way to experience a whole range of Tongan cuisine is with one of the cultural dinners in Tongatapu. Vakaloa Beach Resort (Kanokupolu Beach, west side) offers entertainment evenings twice a week with a grand Tongan buffet complete with a spit-roast pig. Similarly, Oholei Beach Resort (Lavengatonga Beach, east side) has an incredible dinner show inside a cave. The Liku’alofa Beach Resort (‘Otuhaka Beach, west side) also puts on entertaining cultural nights with a huge choice of Tongan delights! See more information in The Best Cultural Shows on Tongatapu.
International Restaurants in Tongatapu
Italian, German, French, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine is represented across the kingdom and Tongatapu. While international restaurants are easy to find around Nuku’alofa, you’ll find international cuisine also served up at resorts throughout Tongatapu and its off-shore islands.
International Restaurants in Nuku’alofa
Try irresistible pizzas, pasta and more at Tonga’s own little slice of Italy at the Little Italy Restaurant (Vuna Road, Kolomotu). Alternatively, Marco’s Pizza Pasta (‘Unga Road) offers a wide range of pizza toppings, fresh pasta, fish, meat, salads and desserts. Catch one of the live bands performing there on Friday and Saturday nights.
If Chinese is more your style, Evergreen Chinese Restaurant (Bypass Road, Ma’ufanga) is a good choice specialising in Chinese cuisine made with fresh local seafood and vegetables. Or for some cheap eats, try the noodle dishes at the Tiger Inn Restaurant (Railway Road).
For excellent dine-in experiences with crowd-pleasing menus, top choices include The TOP Restaurant (Corner of Wellington and Taua’ahau Roads) located up an elevator overlooking the city. Chef Zero Restaurant (Popua) is also highly recommended, known for its steak, pork and seafood dishes.
International Restaurants in Tongatapu
Along the beaches of the western side of Tongatapu is where you’ll find a choice of resort restaurants, such as the Heilala Restaurant (Ha’atafu Beach) has a varied seasonal menu, from seafood platters to Chinese steamed buns.
For European-style cuisine, resorts restaurants, such as The Hideaway Cafe at Holty’s Hideaway (Ha’atafu Beach) and Liku’alofa Beach Resort (‘Otuhaka Beach) are a safe bet, serving the likes of burgers, hearty sandwiches and fish & chips.
A similar experience can be found on the off-shore islands, like Pangaimotu Island Resort, serving dishes like fish & chips, burgers, curries and chicken teriyaki. If you go there on one of their day trips, lunch is typically included in the ferry ticket. Learn more about island day trips in 7 Best Island Day Trips from Nuku’alofa.
Alternatively, Fafa Island Resort offers good dining at their open-air restaurant overlooking Fafa Island’s beaches. The restaurant serves up Polynesian-European fusion food, with one night a week offering an international barbecue night with Tongan dance performances.
Cafes in Tongatapu
Don’t worry, you can still get your coffee fix in Tongatapu. Almost all your cafe offerings in Tongatapu are in Nuku’alofa, including the famous Friends Cafe (Taufa’ahau Road) set in a historic building. ‘Utuonga Cafe (Taufa’ahau Road, near the hospital) is where you can try more Tongan-style cafe food and drink. Alternatively, see where Tongan coffee is made at Tupu’Anga Cafe (Umusi Road) who offer roastery tours – see 8 Things to Do in Nuku’alofa for Foodies.
Outside of Nuku’alofa, a popular pitstop is The Bush BBQ Cafe (Loto Road, Liahona) for its cheap and hearty breakfasts and lunches made from fresh produce of the surrounding fields.
See more information on cafes in Guide to the Best Eats & Restaurants in Nuku’alofa.
Bars on Tongatapu
Relax with a refreshing Tongan beer, tropical cocktail or a fresh coconut at one of Tongatapu’s bars. Not only does Nuku’alofa have a vibrant night scene, but the island’s resort bars are great places to enjoy some sundowners.
Drink and be merry at one of Nuku’alofa’s popular waterfront bars, such as Nauti Ruby’s Bar & Nightclub and Ngutulei Bar & Restaurant (Faua Wharf). Across from the wharf is the open-air sports bar, Billfish Bar & Restaurant, often with DJs and live bands.
In the city centre of Nuku’alofa, drink Tongan beer in pints, jugs and towers at the Reload Bar (Taufa’ahau Road) or relax in the beer garden of the Vuna Restaurant & Bar (Vuna Road).
Learn more about these bars in 5 Best Bars in Nuku’alofa.
Resort Bars in Tongatapu
Drinking creative cocktails is a good way to spend an evening at the Fafa Island Resort‘s bar on Fafa Island or stay on ‘Atata Island at The Royal Sunset Island Resort to relax with a wine, beer or cocktail.
On the main island, popular drinking joints include the Heilala Restaurant and Holty’s Hideaway (Ha’atafu Beach).
For more details on each bar around the island, see The Ultimate Guide to the Nightlife on Tongatapu.