Everything You Need to Know About Surfing in Tonga
Surfing in Tonga? Really?! Yes, who would have thought this little-known island nation in the South Pacific is a pretty awesome surf destination? You won’t know what “uncrowded” surf breaks really look like you have blasted along the remote reef breaks of Vava’u or taught your kids to surf from the beaches of Ha’apai. Tongatapu, Tonga’s main island, is your effortless surf option, however, with surf breaks for all abilities found just a short paddle from shore. So take a look at the best seasons, where to surf and where to stay for surfers in this complete guide to surfing in Tonga.
Quick Tips for Surfing in Tonga
- Surfing in Tonga is best suited for intermediate to advanced surfers. Beginner surfing can be found when the swell conditions are calm from Kanokupolu Beach in Tongatapu and from Houmale’eia Beach in Ha’apai
- Almost all of Tonga’s surf breaks are reef breaks so be sure to wear reef protection, like a wetsuit/rashies and reef shoes
- A very limited amount of resorts have surfboard hire, so bring your own
- Most of Tonga’s surf breaks are on in winter, especially in Vava’u, but you will also find plenty of breaks in summer in Tongatapu
- Most surf breaks require a boat to get to them, which resorts can provide – Ha’atafu and Kanokupolu Beach have breaks that can be paddled to some 100m (330ft) from shore.
For more details on each tip, take a look at the 8 Surf Tips for Your First Time Surfing in Tonga.
The Best Time to Surf in Tonga
There’s never really a bad time to surf in Tonga, as each of the two seasons the country experiences – summer and winter – bring their own unique surfing conditions. However, the majority of surf breaks in Tonga tend to have their ideal conditions in winter.
Winter Surfing in Tonga (April to October)
Winter is when the biggest groundswells reach Tonga, typically caused by storm activity happening in the southern seas, such as the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand. Between April and October is when most of Tonga’s surf breaks are at their best.
Summer Surfing in Tonga (November to March)
Many surf breaks that aren’t as good in winter are on in summer! Swells come from the North Pacific and Hawaii often combined with southeast trade winds for more wavey goodness. However, wind directions and swells are less predictable, as summer is also the cyclone season.
For more information on the best surf seasons, take a look at The Best Time to Surf in Tonga.
Where to Surf in Tonga
While new surf breaks are often discovered (and kept a secret) in Tonga, there are a few great surf spots found across three of Tonga’s island groups, Tongatapu, Ha’apai and Vava’u.
Surfing in Tongatapu
The easiest island to get to, therefore the most popular place to surf, is the Tongatapu. The beaches lining the northwest tip of the island, such as Ha’atafu and Kanokupolu Beach, are the best for surfing, with surf breaks just 100m (330ft) from shore with more options available by boat.
The beaches are lined with accommodations, some of which offer surfboard hire, while some have facilities such as restaurants to make use of during your beach visit. There are breaks here suitable in both summer and winter. Some breaks are suitable for beginners during a calm swell, but most are more suited to intermediate and advanced surfers.
Find out more about the specific surf breaks off these beaches in the 10 Surf Breaks in Tongatapu.
Surfing in Ha’apai
Admittedly, the island group of Ha’apai is more associated with kitesurfing than surfing, but those looking for some easy waves to ride will have luck at Houmale’eia Beach at the tip of Foa Island. It provides one of the only beach breaks in Tonga, breaking alongside a sandspit making for a safer surfing option than some of the other offerings in Tonga.
Surfing in Vava’u
Finally, advanced surfers with a sense of adventure, their own surfboard and a willingness to take a boat might want to head to the island group of Vava’u. You’ll be taken to some of the most remote surf breaks atop reefs with not another soul in sight. While there is a good selection of reef breaks in Vava’u, note that almost all of them are better in winter.
Check out the specifics of each surf spot in the 10 Surf Breaks in Vava’u.
Best Resorts for Surfing in Tonga
“Surf resorts” are not really a thing in Tonga. There are, however, a great selection of boutique resorts with prime position opposite surf breaks or providing boat charters to the nearest offshore breaks. While a limited number of resorts in Tonga offer surfboard hire, it’s usually best to assume that you need to bring your own surfboard. As most breaks in Tonga are reef breaks, reef protection like reef shoes and wetsuits/rashies are advised.
Resorts Near Surf Breaks
- Ha’atafu Beach Resort – A resort in Tongatapu with a primary focus on surfing the breaks right on the resort’s doorstep. Breaks are a 100m (330ft) paddle away. They also offer boats to offshore reefs.
- Heilala Holiday Lodge – Offers surfboard hire from Ha’atafu Beach
- Matafonua Lodge – A resort with beach breaks from its Ha’apai location. They offer surfboard hire.
- Vakaloa Beach Resort – A resort off Kanakopulu Beach with surf breaks in Tongatapu.
- Blue Banana Beach House – Self-contained beach houses on Kanokupolu Beach in Tongatapu.
- Treasure Island Tonga – Offer support boats for surfing the reef breaks in Vava’u.
- The Beach House – Offers boat charters to Fofoa and Foelifuka reef breaks.
Find out more about each accommodation in the 7 Best Surf Resorts in Tonga.