A Guide to Boat Transfers & Water Taxis in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com
A Guide to Boat Transfers & Water Taxis in Tonga

A Guide to Boat Transfers & Water Taxis in Tonga

© TongaPocketGuide.com

Are There Any Water Taxis in Tonga?

The short answer is no. Water taxis as you know them are not exactly available in Tonga. Short overwater travel between islands relies on island accommodations, which usually have their own boats to transport guests between their accommodations and typically the wharf or local airport. Alternatively, resorts will work with boat tour and charter companies to transfer guests to the island. For longer journeys between island groups, for instance between Tongatapu and Ha’apai, there are ferry services, which you can wise up on in The Guide Interisland Ferries in Tonga.

In this guide to boat transfers and water taxis in Tonga, we’ll go through your best options for getting around Tonga by boat in each island group, including boat charters, scheduled boat transfers and resort transfers.

5 Tips for Boat Transport in Tonga

  1. Arrange a boat transfer with your island resort before arrival – usually, that’s the only way to get to the island!
  2. Scheduled boat transfers to the outer islands of Tongatapu operate (unusually for Tonga) on Sunday
  3. To get between the island groups, take a ferry!
  4. In Ha’apai, boat transfers to the outer islands can be arranged at the Visitor Information Centre in Pangai
  5. On Vava’u, you can arrange independent island transfers with Riki Tiki Tours or the Visitor Information Centre in Neiafu.
How to Catch a Water Taxi in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

Boat Transfers in Tongatapu

Just about the only island group with scheduled boat transfers, Tongatapu has boats running between the main island and some of its outer islands. Boat transfers for day trips operate on a schedule on Sundays or can be booked on demand if minimum numbers are met.

Boat Transfers in Tongatapu

All of Tongatapu’s boat transfers depart from Faua Wharf, which is the small boat marina along Vuna Road, Nuku’alofa.

Faua Wharf to Pangaimotu Island

Departure from Faua Wharf: 11 am and 12 pm on Sunday
Departure from Pangaimotu: 4 pm and 5/6 pm on Sunday.
Departures are also available throughout the week if the boat meets the minimum requirement of 10 passengers. Make your bookings about a week in advance, then call for confirmation closer to the travel date.
Cost: Around TOP$50 return.

Faua Wharf to ‘Atata Island

Boat trips to ‘Atata Island are available through Deep Blue Diving as part of snorkelling and scuba diving tours. They have the most availability between November and June.
Cost: Around TOP$150-$200 return.

Boat Charters in Tongatapu

For private charters to Tongatapu’s other outer islands, it’s best to enquire at the Nuku’alofa Visitor Information Centre (Vuna Road).

Learn more about island-hopping in Tongatapu in the 10 Best Island Day Trips from Nuku’alofa, as well as transport in the 10 Ways to Get to (& Around) Tongatapu.

How to Catch a Water Taxi in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

Boat Transfers in Ha’apai

Ha’apai is made up of around 62 idyllic islands, so naturally, most find themselves on a boat a some point during their visit. The islands in Ha’apai can be visited vai resort transfers, by chartering a boat, or by taking one of the limited scheduled boats.

Note that the islands of Nomuka, Tungua, Matuku, Ha’afeva, Uiha and Lifuka are on interisland-group ferry schedules, which you can learn more about in Tonga Ferry Guide: How to Use Ferries for Interisland Travel.

Resort Boat Transfers in Ha’apai

A popular boat transfer in the island group of Ha’apai will be with your chosen accommodation provider. Resort transfers are available to pick up guests from the wharf or airport of Lifuka Island on an arrangement basis. You need to let your accommodation know your arrival times and departure times from connecting ferries and flights on Lifuka Island and they will organise the appropriate water and land transport for you.

Resorts, where boat transfers are required, include:

While some boat transfers might be included in the resort rate, most transfers will cost around TOP$50-$155 per person one way. Learn more about resort transfers in How to Get an Airport Transfer in Tonga.

How to Catch a Water Taxi in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

Boat Charters in Ha’apai

You don’t necessarily need to be staying at a resort to do some island-hopping in Ha’apai. There are boats available for charter to travel between Pangai (Lifuka) and the islands of Uoleva, Tofua and Kao. Boats are owned by ever-changing local and Chinese entrepreneurs, so it’s best to arrange boat charters with the Ha’apai Visitor Information Centre. Boats depart from the beach just south of the Visitor Information Centre or sometimes from Taufa’ahau Wharf.

Chartering a small boat, for instance, to Uoleva costs approximately TOP$250 one way, while a large boat can cost TOP$1,000 for the same journey.

How to Catch a Water Taxi in Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

Scheduled Boats in Ha’apai

Scheduled boats between Foa Island (connected to Lifuka via causeway) and Ha’ano Island run twice a day throughout the week, primarily to transport children to and from school, but anyone can use the service for a reasonable fee. Wait around Faleloa village jetty (Foa Island) around 8/9 am or 2/3 pm on weekdays to catch the boat.

Learn more about transport in Ha’apai in the 5 Ways to Get to Ha’apai (& Around Ha’apai).

How to Catch a Water Taxi in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

Boat Transfers in Vava’u

Another island group with plenty of islands to explore, Vava’u has around 55 islands. While most island resorts offer boat transfers to their islands, it is possible to charter a boat should you want to do some island-hopping.

Resort Boat Transfers in Vava’u

Resort transfers work similarly in Vava’u to how they do in Ha’apai, where island resorts arrange their own transfers to coincide with arrival and departure flights/ferries from ‘Utu Vava’u (the main island of Vava’u). If island resorts don’t have their own boat transport for any reason, they’ll work with boat charters and tour operators in Vava’u to transfer you to the island.

Resorts, where boat transfers are required, include:

  • The Reef Resort
  • Mala Island Resort
  • Treasure Island Eco Resort
  • Mounu Island Resort
  • Beautiful Ofu Island Backpackers
  • Makafeke Resort
  • Dream Island Resort
  • Blue Lagoon Resort

Resort transfers cost approximately TOP$125-$200 per person one-way. Learn more about some of these resorts in the 10 Best Resorts in Vava’u and 10 Best Island Resorts in Tonga.

Boat Charters in Vava’u

There are plenty of local and international boat owners in Vava’u that either provide transfers to your selected island or even do some island-hopping. Riki Tiki Tours offers this service, which can be arranged, along with alternative boat charters, at the Vava’u Visitor Information Centre in Neiafu. Boats depart from either Houmelei Wharf (Old Neiafu Harbour) for the eastern district islands or the small boat marina at Halaevalu Wharf for the southern district islands.

Prices vary depending on the destination and how many destinations are visited, starting at around TOP$200 for a private boat transfer to around TOP$2,500 for a day of island-hopping.

For more information on transport in Vava’u, see the 10 Ways to Get to (& Around) Vava’u.

How to Catch a Water Taxi in Tonga(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

Boat Transfers in The Niuas

Finally, yes, you can find some sort of boat transport in the far-flung islands of The Niuas. Tonga’s most remote and least developed islands are an adventure for the determined traveller. A popular boat journey is between Niuatoputapu and Tafahi islands, where the crossing is made by fishermen almost daily. Negotiate with fishermen on Niuatoputapu to make the journey across.

For more transport tips for Niuatoputapu, Tafahi and Niuafo’ou, see the 5 Ways to Get to (& Around) The Niuas.

More on Boat Transfers and Water Taxis in Tonga

That’s it for the guide on boat transfers and water taxis in Tonga and how to travel by boat. For more tips on the subject, take a look at the following:

Finally, for itineraries to inspire you on where to visit, take a look at the following compilations: The Best Tonga Itineraries for 2 WeeksThe Best Tonga Itineraries for 1 Week, The Best Tonga Itineraries for 5 Days and The Best Tonga Itineraries for a Weekend.


Laura (Lola) S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Tonga. She knows the islands inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Tonga’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

Was this article useful?