Can You Hire a Private Driver in Tonga?
The short answer: it depends on where you are in Tonga. Some taxi and car rental companies on Tongatapu offer private driver services, while all of the taxi services in Vava’u provide island tours or private driving on an hourly basis, making up for the lack of tours available on the island. In this guide to hiring a driver in Tonga, we go over the different ways to hire a driver, as well as driver hire alternatives.
Before we jump into this guide on whether you can hire a driver in Tonga, be sure to bookmark our Tonga Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get Around Tonga for even more transport tips.
3 Tips for Getting Around Tonga
- Approach drivers with a plan of attractions you want to visit and which accommodation you’re staying at; remember you’re more in control of your itinerary when hiring a driver. If you’d rather leave your day trip itinerary to the experts, a guided tour with a tour company may be the preferable option – see the 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in Tonga for examples
- Have a good rapport with your taxi driver from the airport? Ask if they offer day hires for sightseeing and get their phone number!
- Private drivers don’t always have refreshments available, but they are usually happy to stop at stores and markets for you.
Where to Hire a Driver in Tonga
Although Tonga is made up of approximately 170 islands, it’s only the two most populated islands where you can hire a driver.
Drivers can be hired on the islands of Tongatapu and ‘Utu Vava’u in Vava’u. On Tongatapu, the easiest places to hire a driver from are Fua’amotu International Airport and the capital Nuku’alofa, while Vava’u’s private drivers are easiest hired from Neiafu.
How to Hire a Driver in Tonga
The most “official” ways of hiring a driver in Tonga are using a car rental company that offers drivers or hiring a taxi and a driver.
Hiring a Taxi Driver
Many taxi drivers across Tonga are happy to transport passengers to various sights, charging a flat rate for the day or an hourly rate if it looks like the trip isn’t going to take that long.
How to Hire a Taxi Driver in Tonga
Taxi drivers in Tonga are pretty old-school when it comes to “marketing” their services. You won’t find any websites and the most you may find online is a Facebook Page. But for the most part, taxi operators can only be accessed via their Tonga telephone number. With that in mind, check out some Tamoa taxi driver numbers in The Complete Guide to Taxis in Tonga and make a few calls for quotes.
Note that in Vava’u, taxi drivers are your only option for day tours, as there are no “official” sightseeing tours. Check out our recommendations in the 5 Best Guided Island Land Tours of Vava’u.
Hiring a Private Driver with a Car Rental Company
While car rental companies offering drivers to hire is extremely uncommon in Tonga, Avis on Tongatapu offers this service. You must hire a vehicle with Avis, then the chauffeur service is an additional cost (see “The Cost of Private Drivers in Tonga” below). Compare Avis with other car hire companies in The 10 Best Car Rentals in Tonga.
Hiring a Private Driver Through Your Accommodation
A more “unofficial” way of hiring a driver is simply asking through guesthouses. Guesthouses are budget accommodations typically run by locals. They’ll sometimes offer driver services, which is often just a family member with a car. Simply ask the going rate and roll with it. Check out some guesthouses in the 20 Best Guesthouses in Tonga.
The Cost of Private Drivers in Tonga
Private drivers play by their own rules when it comes to pricing so, in most cases, it all comes down to negotiation when hiring a driver in Tonga.
Hiring a private driver for a day on Tongatapu usually comes at around TOP$300 – that’s for the vehicle load; not per person. This is comparable to the price of sightseeing tours on Tongatapu but more expensive than hiring a car – see Should You Rent a Car or Use a Taxi in Tonga?
Hiring a private driver through a car rental company is the fee of the rental car, which with Avis ranges from TOP$120-$300 per day depending on the vehicle model, plus a fee for the chauffeur of approximately TOP$50 between 8 am and 5 pm, and an extra TOP$20 per hour outside of office hours.
In Vava’u, hiring a taxi driver for sightseeing tours costs around TOP$400 for a half-day tour and up to TOP$600 for a full day. Some taxi drivers offer an hourly rate for shorter trips, typically around TOP$80 per hour.
Check out the cost of A-to-B trips with taxi drivers in Taxi Fares in Tonga: How Much Does a Taxi Cost?
Alternatives to Hiring a Driver in Tonga
If you’re looking to hire a driver in Tonga, chances are that there’s a similar type of service to suit.
Private tours are an option in Tonga where your group will have the tour guide/driver and vehicle all to yourselves. This allows you to visit additional locations that are not on the tour itinerary, as well as spend as much or as little time as you like at each attraction visited. For instance, check out private tours with the Tonga Travel Troupe. You can also request to hire any of the 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in Tonga exclusively for your group.
Guided tours are also available on Tongatapu, as well as 4WD tours in ‘Eua. These tours run on set itineraries, taking you to natural, historical and cultural highlights across the island. Check out some tours in The Best Guided Tours of Tongatapu, and The Best Guided Tours of ‘Eua.
Accommodations in Tonga often offer transfers between the arrival wharf/airport of the island and their accommodation. On islands with less transport, like ‘Eua and Ha’apai, some accommodations tend to offer more transport services, such as shuttles to the nearest town.
Taxis are abundant on the islands of Tongatapu and Vava’u, where they operate just like a taxi anywhere in the world, taking you from A to B. Ask the rate to your destination, as some taxis don’t use meters. Learn more about taxis in The Guide to Taxis in Tonga.
More About Hiring a Driver in Tonga
That’s it for our guide on how to hire a driver in Tonga. For more related tips, check out the following guides:
- The Complete Guide to Taxis in Tonga
- How to Book Tours in Tonga + Get the Best Deals
- The Guide to Public Transport in Tonga
Finally, be sure to bookmark our Tonga Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get Around Tonga for even more transport tips.