Can You Hire a Driver in Tonga?
The short answer: it depends where you are. Due to the abundance of island tours and car rentals in Tongatapu, there’s not much opportunity to hire a driver. There is one car rental company that offers driver hire. In Vava’u, however, some taxis offer taxi and driver hire for a few hours at an hourly rate, making up for the little number of tours available on the island. All in all, you won’t find driver hire as easily as you would in other South Pacific countries like Fiji. In this guide to hiring a driver in Tonga, we go over 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.
Tips for Getting Around Tonga
- Some taxi drivers in Vava’u offer driver hire/tours – taxis can be identified with a “T” at the beginning of the vehicle’s number plate
- Private tours are a good way to get the “driver hire” experience
- Accommodation providers, such as resorts and guest houses, often offer their own transport to and from the airport/wharf. Some offer more transport options, especially in more remote areas
- Car rental, buses, bicycle hire and even horse hire are more ways to get around the islands on land
For a list of different transport in Tonga, see the 10 Ways to Get Around Tonga.
How to Hire a Driver in Tonga
The most “official” ways of hiring a driver in Tonga is using a car rental company that offers drivers for hire in Tongatapu or hiring a taxi and a driver in the island group of Vava’u.
While car rental companies offering drivers to hire is extremely uncommon in Tonga, FAB Rentals in Tongatapu offers this service. They have English and German-speaking drivers, who can also tell you about the island of Tongatapu as you drive around to your chosen destinations. Compare FAB Rentals with other car hire companies in The Best Car Rentals in Tonga.
In Vava’u, taxi drivers are known to offer driver hire services, charging a starting rate of around TOP$25 then an hourly rate on top of that which varies greatly from driver to driver. The best way to approach driver hire is to simple as asking the drivers what hourly rates they can offer. Taxi ranks in Vava’u can be found in Neiafu near the Tonga Post Office (opposite the ANZ bank), as well as at the airport.
A more “unofficial” way of hiring a driver is simply asking through guesthouses. Guesthouses are budget accommodation 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.
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 get 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 on Viator or Tripadvisor.
Guided tours are also available on all of the island groups (except The Niuas). You’ll find car and minivan tours on Tongatapu and Vava’u, as well as 4WD tours in ‘Eua and Ha’apai. 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 5 Best Guided Tours of Vava’u.
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, accommodations tend to offer more transport services. For instance, accommodations in ‘Eua will transport guests to hiking trails and pick them up for a fee.
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, before you agree to travel. Learn more about taxis in the Guide to Taxis in Tonga.
Finally, car hire is available on the islands of Tongatapu and Vava’u. However, you will need to drive the vehicle yourself, which requires a full driving license and to obtain a Visitor Driving Permit. Learn more about car hire in Things to Know About Car Rental in Tonga.