The Complete Guide to Surfing in Tonga(c) Pexels
The Complete Guide to Surfing in Tonga

The Complete Guide to Surfing in Tonga

(c) Pexels

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.

5 Quick Tips for Surfing in Tonga

  1. Surfing in Tonga is best suited for intermediate to advanced surfers. Beginner surfing can be found in a low swell from Kanokupolu Beach in Tongatapu and from Houmale’eia Beach in Ha’apai
  2. Almost all of Tonga’s surf breaks are reef breaks so be sure to wear reef protection, like a wetsuit/rashies and reef shoes
  3. There is no surfboard hire in Tonga, so bring your own
  4. 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
  5. Most surf breaks require a boat to get to them, which you can enquire about with your resort – Ha’atafu and Kanokupolu Beaches have breaks that can be paddled to some 100 m (330 ft) from shore.

For more details on each tip, take a look at the 10 Surf Tips for Your First Time Surfing in Tonga.

The Complete Guide to Surfing in Tonga(c) Pexels

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. We also go over when the peak tourist season is, should you want to avoid the crowds, in The Best Time to Visit Tonga.

The Complete Guide to Surfing in Tonga© Pexels

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 100 m (330 ft) from shore with more options available by boat. On the downside, since there are no more resorts here since the 2022 tsunami, organising boat transport has become a little tricky. You may have to rely on your charm and good looks to arrange a boat ride with a local.

There are breaks along Ha’atafu and Kanokupolu Beach that are 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 Best Surf Breaks in Tongatapu, as well as how to organise a trip here in The Complete Travel Guide to 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 and making for a safer surfing option than some of the other offerings in Tonga. The beach is also home to Matafonua Lodge which is owned and operated by a family of watersports enthusiasts who are happy to provide guests with pointers.

Learn more about planning a getaway to this idyllic set of islands in The Complete Travel Guide to Ha’apai.

Surfing in Vava’u

Finally, advanced surfers with a sense of adventure 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. Unfortunately, part of winter coincides with the popular whale swimming season which many operators prioritise their boats for. Surfers will have more luck organising boat transport early into the winter season (April and June).

Check out the specifics of each surf spot in the 10 Best Surf Breaks in Vava’u. Plus, get all of your trip-planning essentials from The Complete Travel Guide to Vava’u.

The Complete Guide to Surfing in Tonga© Tonga Ministry of Tourism

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 positions opposite surf breaks or, in the past, have provided boat charters for surfers. Nowadays, especially in Vava’u, however, resorts prioritise boats for whale swimming. It’s usually best to assume that you need to bring your own surfboard, as at the time of writing, there is no surfboard hire in Tonga. As most breaks in Tonga are reef breaks, reef protection like reef shoes and wetsuits/rashies are advised.

Resorts Near Surf Breaks

  • Matafonua Lodge – A resort with beach breaks from its Ha’apai location
  • Sandy Beach Resort – The sister resort of Matafonua, Sandy Beach is just down the road from beach breaks
  • Treasure Island Eco Resort – Offer support boats for surfing the reef breaks, except for during the whale season.

Find out more about each accommodation and more in the 5 Best Surf Resorts in Tonga.

Surf and Sail

Between May and July, Whale Discoveries kicks off the sailing season with watersports-themed sailing trips. The catamaran yacht, which can be booked per cabin or as a private charter, sets sail from Ha’apai, taking surfers to the little-known reef breaks and butter-flat kitesurfing and foiling spots around the islands. Learn more about their liveaboard adventure in the 5 Best Liveaboards & Boat Stays in Tonga.

Other Places to Stay in Tonga

For more accommodations to choose from across all three island groups mentioned, check out Where to Stay in Tonga: The Best Accommodations.

More About Surfing in Tonga

That’s it for the complete guide to surfing in Tonga. For more about surfing and watersports in The Kingdom, take a look at the following guides:

Finally, inspire yourself with more experiences with the 101 Best Things to Do in Tonga: The Ultimate List. Plus, get even more tips in The Complete Travel Guide to 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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