How to Pick the Best Homestay in Tonga for You©
How to Pick the Best Homestay in Tonga for You

How to Find a Homestay in Tonga


Are There Homestays in Tonga?

The intrepid traveller seeking an authentic experience in Tonga will want to seek out a Tongan homestay, but are there homestays in Tonga? Admittedly, homestays are taking a while to kick off in Tonga, mainly because “guesthouses” have always been a thing here, providing a more local stay. Nevertheless, if you are looking to stay with a local family to fully immerse in the Tongan culture and enjoy a richer experience than any hotel or resort stay can offer, we go over how to find a homestay in Tonga in the guide below.

5 Tips for Staying in a Tongan Homestay

  1. Be aware of the Tongan customs in order not to offend your hosts, such as wearing respectable clothing, as well as being respectful of Sunday observances – check out Tonga Etiquette: Respecting the Local Customs for more tips
  2. Homestays are very limited in Tonga, so if you can’t find one, try a guesthouse instead
  3. Tonga is a developing country, so living standards are likely to be different to where you come from
  4. Related to the point above, be mindful of your health when it comes to drinking water, for instance – take a look at our Tonga Safety Tips for more advice
  5. Check out the closest accommodations to homestays in the 10 Best Village & Homestays in Tonga.

How to Pick the Best Homestay in Tonga for You©

What is a Homestay in Tonga?

A homestay is when you stay in a local’s home, typically in one of the spare bedrooms. While homestays are popular in other countries, they haven’t quite hit it off in Tonga. Nevertheless, keep an eye out on websites like Airbnb to find the latest listings. Search for homestays on Airbnb by filtering the “Type of Place” to “Private Room” or “Shared Room” which will show homestay-style accommodations, instead of holiday homes. Much of what is currently on Airbnb is commercial accommodations.

What limited homestays there are in Tonga are typically in Tongan homes, which may be a little more basic than what you might be used to if you’re from a more developed country. The most upscale homestay you’ll find is at Paea’s Guest House (Tongatapu) where you’ll have a private bedroom and bathroom.

In island groups where there are no commercial accommodations available, such as The Niuas, your homestay may be a mattress and bedding in the living room with shared bathroom facilities. This is where you are most likely to find a homestay in Tonga, where a starting point for organising your stay is with the Tonga Tourism Authority (TTA).

Some families will offer to cook meals for you (usually for a fee) or just offer you breakfast but provide access to the home’s kitchen to prepare your own meals. Be sure to inquire if kitchen facilities are available if you think you’ll need them.

Homestay Alternative: Guesthouses

A guesthouse is typically a large former family home with separate private guest rooms, some with ensuites and some with shared bathrooms. They have communal kitchens and lounges. Guesthouses typically have private double rooms and triple rooms and the occasional single and family room.

Guesthouse hosts don’t always live on-site, but some of the guesthouses on the grounds of your local hosts’ homes’, as well as guesthouses in villages where it’s easy to access the local culture, are listed in the 10 Best Village & Homestays in Tonga.

For more guesthouse options, check out the 20 Best Guesthouses in Tonga, as well as How to Choose the Best Guesthouse in Tonga for You to learn more about what to expect.

How to Pick the Best Homestay in Tonga for You©

Location, What is Nearby and How to Get There?

Currently, there is only one official homestay on the island of Tongatapu. Your next most likely homestay experience (unless you know locals in Tonga) is in The Niuas where no commercial accommodation is available. Compare island groups and what they offer with the following guides:

Once you have decided which island group to visit, you’re going to need to figure out how to get to your chosen homestay. Homestays are typically located a short drive from Nuku’alofa (Tongatapu), so it’s advised that you have a rental car in order to get to attractions, pick up groceries, go to restaurants, etc. For homestays in The Niuas, you will likely have to rely on your hosts or your own two feet to get around. Check out how to travel to and around these island grounds in the following articles:

How to Pick the Best Homestay in Tonga for You©

What Facilities to Expect at a Homestay

At a homestay in Tonga, it’s best to come with the expectations of going with the flow. Don’t expect WiFi, don’t expect an ensuite bathroom, and you shouldn’t even always expect hot water. You will be experiencing real island life, which isn’t full of the luxuries that many of us take for granted. Some facilities and services offered by homestays in Tonga include:

  • A private bedroom
  • Shared or private bathroom
  • Mosquito nets
  • Airport transfers
  • Lifts to town/around the island
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch and dinner (may have an additional fee)
  • Communal kitchen
  • Electricity (or a communal area to use charge devices)
  • Gardens
  • Car park.

For any additional activities or meals that the host might offer, make sure you have some cash handy so that you can pay your way. Learn more about paying for things in What is The Best Way to Pay in Tonga?

More About Homestays in Tonga

That’s it for how to find a homestay in Tonga. If you need more advice, how about tips from our other accommodation selection guides?

Now with a bit of research behind you, you can start selecting the perfect accommodation for you with Where to Stay in Tonga: The Best Accommodations in Tonga.


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.

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