What to Look for When Choosing a Tonga Fishing Charter
Just itching to reel in the big ones? Tonga’s waters will certainly scratch that itch with oceans harbouring some of the South Pacific’s most-targeted game fish, from huge blue marlin to giant trevally. But before you dive onto any old fishing charter, here’s some advice for choosing the best fishing tour in Tonga.
5 Things to Compare Between Tonga’s Fishing Charters
Before we go into detail, here’s an outline of the five key differences between Tonga’s fishing charters:
- Length of trip
- Size of the boat
- Speciality fishing
- Price and inclusions
For any more considerations, check out our complete bible to fishing in The Complete Guide to Fishing in Tonga.
Pick a Location
The first thing you might think of when choosing a fishing tour in Tonga is: where are the best places to fish in Tonga? Not all of Tonga’s island groups have commercial fishing charters available, which helps narrow it down to the following…
Fishing in Vava’u
Vava’u is Tonga’s most popular fishing destination, particularly for its Marlin fishing. There is a range of fishing charters available in this group of islands, which tend to cater to the avid sports angler. Trolling, jigging and casting are the main specialities here. Check out some of the offerings in The Best Fishing Charters in Vava’u, as well as more experiences to complement your trip in the 50 Best Things to Do in Vava’u.
Fishing in ‘Eua
‘Eua is just a short flight from Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, and offers a limited but quality choice of operators, from all-inclusive multi-day fishing holidays to more down-to-earth bareboat spearfishing experiences with local fishermen. ‘Eua is particularly good for its spearfishing thanks to drop-offs just metres from shore, but sports fishing is also available. Check out your options for charters in the 5 Best Fishing Charters in Tonga, as well as more experiences on the island in the 50 Best Things to Do on ‘Eua.
Fishing in Ha’apai
This central island group in Tonga is a little more expensive to get to but is arguably worth it to experience these tranquil South Pacific islands’ beautiful beaches and clear turquoise waters. Ha’apai has a very limited selection of operators who offer fishing charters. What’s more, they are very seasonal, typically operating for a couple of months before the whale season kicks in. Check out your options for charters in the 5 Best Fishing Charters in Tonga, as well as more experiences in the islands in the 50 Best Things to Do in Ha’apai.
The Length of Trip and Time Spent Fishing
Choosing the right length of a trip is ideal for your enjoyment. While a full-day fishing trip might take a toll on families, a half-day trip will only feel like you’re scratching the surface for the avid angler.
In Tonga, there are typically three options when it comes to the length of fishing charters:
- Half-day: 4 hours
- Full-day: 8-10 hours
- Multi-day: 7-10 days
Be sure to choose the right tour length for optimum enjoyment.
The Commute on the Water
Depending on what type of fishing you are doing, the commute in the water can take a significant amount of time that you’d probably prefer to spend fishing.
For trolling, skippers and deckhands get rods at the ready as soon as they leave the harbour and it is safe to do so, so you’ll be trolling for fish very early into the tour. This is especially true for trolling in Vava’u and ‘Eua.
For other types of fishing, like handline fishing, spearfishing, popping and jigging, for example, you’ll need to take time to get to the fish first before you are able to, well, fish. The exception here is from ‘Eua, where fishing grounds can be a 10-20-minute boat ride from the wharf.
The Size of the Boat and Equipment
Fishing charters, especially in the fishing competition mecca of Vava’u, wouldn’t be seen dead with bad fishing rods and reels. In fact, most fishing charters across The Kingdom will be proud to list the equipment that they have, should you be interested. However, if you have your own equipment, some charters offer “bareboat” rates, which can save you a ton.
Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to ask or research what fishing equipment is used, as well as technology like fish finders and GPS, so you know you stand the best chance of making the catch.
As for fishing boats, Tonga is a nation of small fishing vessels, where something to fit up to four anglers comfortably is the norm. However, there are the odd operators that have multiple boats should you be a larger group, while others have smaller vessels for solo anglers and couples should you want a more intimate experience. Either way, it’s always a good idea to mention how many people will be fishing in your group.
Is there a certain type of fishing that gets you going? While most fishing charters will do trolling for standard fishing tours, almost all charters also have the equipment for casting, jigging and popping, so be sure to let them know if there is a certain method you prefer.
Spearfishing in Tonga
Spearfishing is fast becoming a popular sport in Tonga, with a couple of fantastic operators who can provide spearfishing trips and holiday packages. There are options for fully guided trips with all of the gear or bareboat experiences, taking you to FADs and local hotspots around the islands. Check out The Complete Guide to Spearfishing in Tonga for more information on the subject.
Prices and Inclusions
To make sure you’re getting good value or if you’re on a budget, pricing is extremely important. Fishing charters are among some of the most expensive activities in Tonga. Here is the typical price range for fishing tours in Tonga:
- Full-day private charter: TOP$600-$2,500
- Full-day shared charter (per person): TOP$360-$400
- Bareboat shared charter (per person): TOP$150
Note that the fewer people you have on a private fishing charter, the more the charter costs per person.
What Do Fishing Charters Include?
While all fishing charters will provide the safety equipment, fishing gear (unless it’s a bareboat charter), bait and a skipper/guide, charters vary in the other inclusions offered. To see if you are getting good value, check if you’re charter also includes snacks and water, as you’re out on the water for a long time. If you’re on a full-day tour, your tour should also include lunch, drinks and snacks.
More About Choosing a Fishing Tour in Tonga
That’s it for our guide on how to choose the best fishing tour in Tonga. For more fishing advice, take a look at the following:
- What Types of Fish Can You Fish for in Tonga?
- The Best Time for Fishing in Tonga
- 5 Best Fishing Resorts & Lodges in Tonga
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Complete Guide to Fishing in Tonga.