How to Pick the Best Boat Stay in Tonga for You(c)
How to Pick the Best Boat Stay in Tonga for You

How to Pick the Best Boat Stay in Tonga for You


Advice on Choosing a Boat Stay/Charter in Tonga

Tonga is about exploring the ocean just as much as it is about exploring the islands, where a boat stay gives travellers a unique chance to make the ocean their accommodation. Admittedly, Tonga’s sailing charters are quite limited but the ones that are available provide you with a way of island-hopping while having a place to stay all in one neat package. What’s more, during the whale season, two of Tonga’s boat charters offer guests the chance to swim with whales – you can even hear the whale song while you’re sleeping. So learn a little more about choosing a boat stay in Tonga in the guide below.

Quick Things You Need to Know About Staying on a Boat in Tonga

  • All of Tonga’s boat stays are in sailing yachts
  • Almost all of Tonga’s boat stays are only available from Vava’u
  • Sailing charters can only offer whale swimming if they have a licence
  • Most overnight sailing charters are for the entire boat in Tonga. However, Whale Discoveries sailing charters in the whale season are booked per cabin
  • Most sailing charters in Tonga are on catamarans which tend to not cause motion sickness but it’s a good idea to bring seasickness remedies just in case
  • Charters cannot begin or end on a Sunday as per Tongan law.
How to Pick the Best Boat Stay in Tonga for You(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

What are the Boat Stays in Tonga?

How can you stay on a boat in Tonga? Your only option for boat stays is multi-day sailing yacht holidays. In most cases, this involves chartering the entire boat out with a skipper and deckhands. However, one option, Whale Discoveries, is booked on a per cabin basis and you will be sharing the yacht with other guests.

Sailing charters are on the move during your stay, where you’ll visit various different islands and attractions throughout your stay. Activities such as snorkelling and fishing are often included in the experience, while licenced operators also offer swimming with humpback whales during the whale season.

Guests stay in private cabins with an ensuite bathroom. There will be a communal saloon (lounge) with a dining area and kitchen area. Charters have meals included in the stay, apart from bareboat charters where you only hire the boat.

Learn more about the sailing charters and boat stays available in The Unique Boat Stays in Tonga.

How to Pick the Best Boat Stay in Tonga for You(c)

Location and How to Get There

When comparing boat charters in Tonga, it’s a good idea to compare locations where the charter departs from and how to get there. Most charters, like Tropical Yacht Holidays (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), South Pacific Sea Adventures and Moorings & Sunsail depart from Neiafu in Vava’u. The airport in Vava’u has international connections to Fiji and Samoa and frequent domestic connections with Tongatapu. Sailing charters offer airport transfers. Otherwise, taxis are available from the airport. See 10 Ways to Get to Vava’u (& Around Vava’u).

Whale Discoveries offers charters from Tongatapu and from Ha’apai. Check out 10 Ways to Get to Tongatapu (& Around Tongatapu) and 5 Ways to Get to Ha’apai (& Around Ha’apai) for more information on transport.

How to Pick the Best Boat Stay in Tonga for You(c)

What’s Included in Your Stay?

As you may have figured out, the boat stays in Tonga are about the whole experience including its activities, rather than just the accommodation itself. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to compare the inclusions of your boat charter to make sure you’re getting the experience you want.

Inclusions to Compare

In Tongan boat charters, these are the activities and services that are often available to compare:

  • All meals
  • Alcohol and soft drinks
  • Water sports activities
  • Docking fees
  • Airport transfers
  • Island excursions
  • Whale swimming.


Laura 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.

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