Safety Guide for Tourists in Tonga
Is Tonga safe for tourists? Absolutely. There is little risk when it comes to health and safety in Tonga compared to other countries in the South Pacific. Minor safety issues come in the form of mosquito bites and their occasional associated viruses, getting too much sun, and drinking contaminated water. Tonga is in a zone that experiences natural disasters and as with any island nation, water safety should be taken seriously. Find out more about crime, safety and hazards in Tonga in the guide below.
Emergency Phone Numbers for Tonga
While it’s unlikely anything serious will happen to tourists in Tonga, help is always nearby. Here are the emergency numbers to etch into your mind for Tonga:
Emergency Services: 911
Tonga Fire Service: 999
Tonga Police: 922
Crime Against Tourists
Tonga is a country with low levels of crime. However, while rare, petty crime and sexual harassment has been an issue for tourists in the past. Sensible measures should be taken to ensure personal safety. Precautions to take include:
- Don’t walk alone at night in desolate areas
- Avoid suspicious-looking people
- Don’t leave valuable items on display or unattended
- Go for nights out in a group
- Wear modest clothing to avoid unwanted attention (locals are used to people wearing clothes that at least cover the knees)
- Be aware of the Tongan police phone numbers: 922 or in an emergency, 911.
Learn more about crime in Tonga in How to Keep Safe in Tonga.
Potentially a more serious risk to tourists is environmental hazards, such as hazards in the water and overexposure to the sun. While rare, Tonga is also prone to natural disasters.
Natural Disasters in Tonga
The natural disasters that can occur in Tonga include tropical cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis. Cyclones are more of a risk in the cyclone season between November and April. Earthquakes mostly occur on the ocean floor but are the main cause of tsunamis, only one of which has caused serious damage and deaths since records began in 1865. Find out more about cyclones in Tonga here, while more information on earthquakes and tsunamis is available here.
One of the most common water hazards in Tonga is swimming in dangerous waters. While safe swimming can be found in sheltered lagoons, rips and strong currents around passages of lagoons can catch even the strongest of swimmers. Depth and timing precautions need to be taken seriously when scuba diving, as there is no decompression chamber in Tonga. Be sure to check if boats have adequate safety equipment including lifejackets onboard. See more water safety advice in Water Safety in Tonga.
Dangerous Animals and Marine Life
Tourists don’t need to worry about crocodiles in Tonga. While there are venomous sea snakes, they rarely attack humans and can’t penetrate teeth through the skin in most places of the human body. Sharks are very unlikely to attack unless provoked. Whale swimming should be done with a licensed operator and guide.
One of the real dangers to tourists with “sun lust” is overexposure to the sun, which can lead to sunburn, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Reapplying at least SPF 30 sunscreen every three hours is a must. Sun hats, staying in the shade when possible, and covering exposed skin are more ways to protect yourself. See 10 Best Natural Sunscreens for Tonga for recommended sunscreens.
Diseases in Tonga
Traveller’s diarrhoea and the occasional outbreak of dengue fever are the main concerns when it comes to diseases in Tonga with the remedy being to get plenty of fluids and rest. However, it is advised that your vaccinations are still up to date.
Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika Virus
Tonga has been subject to mosquito-spread diseases in the past, including dengue fever, chikungunya and the zika virus. Unless there is a warning for an outbreak of these diseases, it’s unlikely that you contract them. However, it’s always a good idea to avoid mosquito bites as much as possible. Wear insect repellent as advised in 10 Best Natural Mosquito Repellents for Tonga and follow more avoidance advice in 10 Ways to Avoid Mosquito Bites in Tonga.
E-coli (Traveller’s Diarrhoea)
E-coli or traveller’s diarrhoea is contracted from contaminated water. For tourists, it’s important to boil tap water before drinking it, even if the locals are drinking it, as it’s likely they have developed a tolerance to certain strains of bacteria. Check out Can You Drink the Water in Tonga? for more tips.
Typhoid Fever, Meningitis, Measles, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
While rare, typhoid fever, meningitis, measles and hepatitis A and B outbreaks have occurred in Tonga in the past 10-15 years. It is recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be up-to-date with routine vaccinations and to get travel vaccinations, such as diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, regardless of where you are travelling to. Find out more in Do You Need Vaccines to Travel to Tonga?