The Best Places to Eat in Vava’u
Vava’u is home to Tonga’s second-largest town, Neiafu. With that, the island group has a variety of restaurants to offer travellers. From local Tongan feasts to international cuisine, there’s plenty to experience between the cafes, delis, tapas bars and more. Even some more remote island resorts open up their restaurants to day-trippers should you be willing to travel further afield for a tasty meal. Check out some of our recommendations in this guide to the best restaurants in Vava’u.
While you’re here, you might also be interested in The Foodie Guide to Vava’u.
5 Tips for Eating Out in Vava’u
- If you’re chartering a boat and want to do a bit of fishing for yourself, don’t eat reef fish, which can carry a disease called ciguatera. It’s best to eat the fish served in restaurants and that the locals are eating
- The drinking age in Tonga is 18 years old
- Local meat, seafood and poultry from restaurants is generally safe to eat
- Tips are not expected in Vava’u but are appreciated
- Tell your resort of any dietary requirements well in advance so they can cater to your needs.
Tongan Restaurants in Vava’u
The best way to truly experience Tongan cuisine is to get yourself to a Sunday Tongan feast. Otherwise, some resorts and restaurants will put the odd Tongan dish on the menu.
Restaurants Serving Tongan Dishes
Open to casual diners, the Tongan Beach Resort‘s open-air restaurant has items on the menu to offer a taste of Tonga. Try ota ika with breadfruit chips and the grilled fish burger with pickled papaya. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner on ‘Utungake Island, which is connected to the mainland.
Sunday is a day of rest in Tonga and often eating… a lot! Join in on the action by attending one of the Tongan Sunday feasts in Vava’u. Sunday buffets are served at the ‘Ene’io Botanical Gardens near the village of Tu’anikivale. Learn more about the gardens in the 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do in Vava’u.
The Port of Refuge Villas in Neiafu also offers a Sunday buffet where food is prepared in an umu (underground oven) and served around 1pm. A spit-roast pig is also served.
Finally, another option awaits on Ofu Island at the Beautiful Ofu Island Backpackers that also serves up a traditional Tongan feast on a Sunday. Learn more about the resort in the 10 Best Budget Accommodation in Vava’u.
International Restaurants in Vava’u
A wide range of international cuisines is represented in Neiafu and Vava’u, especially Italian and Spanish! You’ll also find Chinese, American, Mexican and more scatters across the islands.
International Restaurants in Neiafu
Sitting on the water’s edge at Neiafu’s southern wharf, the Mango Cafe is not only a place for yachties to meet up for a drink, but it also serves up a diverse range of cuisine. Try pizzas, burritos, pasta dishes, pork belly, steaks, chicken dishes, burgers and all-day breakfasts.
Some of the best-value meals, as well as great views, can be found at the Bellavista Cafe & Restaurant in the Guttenbeil Plaza. It’s your Italian flair in the South Pacific, serving up Italian-style pizzas, espresso coffees, pasta and a wealth of seafood dishes with fresh Vava’uan fish!
Enjoy Chinese food on the waterfront at Panda. The restaurant located at the wharf east of the Neiafu Market does all the favourite beef, chicken, pork, tofu and fish dishes, as well as soups and dumplings. Dine-in or takeaway. It’s well-positioned for grabbing lunch for doing one of the boat trips from Neiafu.
Sometimes floating in the Neiafu Harbour, The Hideaway serves up fish and chips and a selection of drinks including cocktails. They’ll transport you out there on a small boat.
International Restaurants Around Vava’u
Sitting along the roadside between Neiafu and Toula Village, Hepi Pizza is a welcome surprise to break a day up of exploring the main islands. Overlooking Koko Bay, the outdoor deck offers amazing views to eat your freshly-bakes pizza. Either choose cheese, veggie, meat-lover or make your own.
[Update: La Paella Restaurant and the Tapana Island Resort has closed]. An interesting find in La Paella Restaurant at the Tapana Island Resort. Open to day-trippers on the island, La Paella is run by a Spanish couple to bring you a real taste of Spain in Tonga. Learn more about the resort in the 5 Best Eco Resorts in Vava’u.
Cafes in Vava’u
Don’t worry, you can still get your caffeine fix in Neiafu and Vava’u, with a couple of cafes found in the town centre, as well as resorts offering cafe food on their breakfast and lunch menus.
A quiet cafe in the centre of Neiafu, Coffee & Tees serves up a range of drinks to get you through the day, as well as breakfast and lunch food. Pick something from the cabinet, have a light salad or indulge in some waffles, There’s also originally designed t-shirts to browse.
A licensed cafe in the centre of town, Cafe Tropicana does a wide range of meals for breakfast and lunch, from naughty pancakes and waffles to sandwiches, tacos, pies and pastries. Get a shot in your coffee (or a normal coffee) or try something typically Tongan like ‘otai or a fresh coconut. Learn more about these drinks in the 10 Drinks in Tonga You Have to Try.