Flights, Cruises and Sailing to Tonga
An archipelago scattered in the South Pacific, Tonga is no easy feat to get to. Flights from only a handful of countries make their way to the islands, while international cruises or sailing your own yacht are just about the only other ways to get there. But we think that you’ll agree once you arrive in Tonga, the journey will have been definitely worth it. Take a look a our guide to how to get to Tonga to compare your options.
Tips for Getting to Tonga
- Be aware of the biosecurity restrictions – see Arrival Advice: Biosecurity and Customs in Tonga
- All airports and ports in Tonga close on a Sunday
- Do you need a visa for Tonga? Find out in our visa guide.
- If sailing to Tonga, be aware of the customs clearance process
- Wise up on the ports of call in Tonga, Nuku’alofa and Vava’u, if travelling on a cruise ship.
Flights to Tonga
Direct international flights to Tonga come from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Samoa and American Samoa. Most connecting flights can be made in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji.
Airlines, Routes and Duration of Flights to Tonga
The following airlines fly to Tonga on the following routes:
- Air New Zealand – Auckland to Nuku’alofa (3 hours)
- Virgin Australia – Sydney to Nuku’alofa (4h30mins)
- Fiji Airways – Nadi to Nuku’alofa (1h5mins), Nadi to Vava’u (1h10mins)
- Talofa Airways – Fagali’i to Nuku’alofa (1h50mins), Pago Pago to Nuku’alofa (1h50mins)
Learn more about flights to Tonga in Which Airlines Fly to Tonga?
International Airports in Tonga
Most international arrivals land at Fua’amotu International Airport on the island of Tongatapu, 21km (13 miles) from the nation’s capital, Nuku’alofa. A limited number of flights also arrive at Lupepau’u International Airport in Vava’u, about 10km (6 miles) from Neiafu. Learn more about the airports in Tonga here.
For more tips on flying to Tonga, see How to Book a Cheap Flight to Tonga.
Cruises to Tonga
Tonga is on the itinerary of several South Pacific cruises from New Zealand, Australia and the US, as well as round-the-world cruises from the US and the UK. There are two ports of call in Tonga, one in Nuku’alofa on Tongatapu and the other in Neiafu in Vava’u.
Cruises to Tonga
The following cruise companies offer cruises to Tonga:
- Royal Caribbean
- Carnival Cruises
- P&O Cruises
- Celebrity Cruises
- Crystal Cruises
- Paul Gauguin Cruises
- Holland America Line
- Viking Ocean Cruise
- Columbus with Cruise & Maritime Voyages
Learn more about each of these cruise companies in 10 Cruises That Visit Tonga.
Ports of Call in Tonga
The most frequented port of call in Tonga is Nuku’alofa on the mainland, Tongatapu. Cruise ships anchor at Vuna Wharf where the town centre is a 10-minute walk away and shore excursion tours pick you up straight from port. Most of the 10 Best Tonga Shore Excursions depart from here. Find out more about Nuku’alofa in The Complete Guide to Nuku&’alofa.
The second port of call is Neiafu in Vava’u. Cruise ships anchor in the Port of Refuge, with tenders running between the main wharf of Neiafu and the ship throughout the port day. Land tours to ‘Ene’io Botanical Gardens, around the island, as well as a few water activities are available. Find out more in The Complete Guide to Vava’u.
Sailing to Tonga
Finally, another way you can get to Tonga is on a sailing yacht. Tonga is ideally situated at the centre of a Transpacific journey between the US and New Zealand. The yachting season is between May and October.
Tonga Sailing Formalities
Tonga Customs requires that all yachts arriving from overseas need to submit an Advance Notice of Arrival form at least 24 hours before their ETA. There are five ports of entry in Tonga:
- Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu
- Neiafu, Vava’u
- Pangai, Ha’apai
- Falehau, Niuatoputapu
- Futu, Niuafo’ou
Yachts must go through a clearance process, flying the yellow Q flag on arrival and giving permission for officers from the Departments of Health, Agriculture, Immigration and Customs to board and inspect the yacht.
Domestic check-in and check-out are also required when sailing between island groups, where a Local Movement Report (Small Craft) is required.
For more details on sailing formalities, see The Sailing Guide to Tonga.
Sailing Destinations in Tonga
One of the most popular sailing groups in Tonga and the whole of the South Pacific is Vava’u. It’s also possible to charter skippered or bareboat yachts. Find out more in The Best Tours for Sailing in Vava’u.
Ha’apai should be navigated carefully but provides an interesting array of uninhabited islands and islands that have formed in the past five years. See The Complete Guide to Ha’apai for more inspiration.
Finally, The Niuas often an exciting prospect for yachties, where just about the only visitors to these remote islands are those with their own yacht. Find out more about these islands in The Complete Guide to The Niuas.