How to Plan a More Eco-Friendly Trip to Tonga
While climate change can seem like a distant issue, the impact of global warming is certainly present on the islands of the South Pacific. Although Tonga has some marine reserves and conservation areas to protect its flora, fauna and reefs, the nation has had its issues with balancing environmental and social sustainability while trying to grow its tourism industry. As is a common theme for anyone trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle, it’s up to us travellers to be mindful of the tourism operators used, as well as be careful with the environment and respectful of communities in order to travel more sustainably. Nevertheless, ecotourism in Tonga is alive and we’re here to guide you through it.
Quick Tips for More Eco-Friendly Travel in Tonga
Although our guide to ecotourism in Tonga will go into much more detail on eco-friendly and ethical travel in Tonga, here are some quick sustainability tips to get you started.
- Stay at eco-resorts and guesthouses to reduce your environmental impacts
- Enjoy low-impact activities, like hiking, snorkelling, cycling and kayaking
- Minimise your waste by packing a reusable water bottle, plastic-free toiletries, shopping bags etc.
- Use public transport or bicycles where possible
- Take the most direct flight to Tonga
- Use reef-safe sunscreen and natural insect repellent
- Be careful to not stand on or damage coral.
And there’s more where that came from over in the 30 Ways to Travel More Sustainably in Tonga.
Eco-Resorts and Accommodations in Tonga
Resorts play a huge part in a Tonga getaway. Choosing an eco-resort or accommodation can help reduce your environmental impact tremendously. Typical aspects of these environmentally focussed accommodations include sustainable energy sources, usually solar power, compostable toilets, biodegradable cleaning products, and many other initiatives that you can read in detail in How to Choose Sustainable Accommodation in Tonga.
The Best Eco-Friendly Resorts in Tonga
- Kitesurf Tonga (Ha’apai)
- Treasure Island Eco Resort (Vava’u)
- Serenity Beaches Resort (Ha’apai)
- Diana Beach Resort (Ha’apai)
- Sea Change Eco Retreat (Ha’apai)
- Katea Retreat (Tongatapu)
- Blue Lagoon Resort (Vava’u)
- Mandala Island (Vava’u)
- Green Lodge Holiday Homes (Tongatapu)
- Tukulolo Grounds & Treehouses (Tongatapu)
Find out much more about what these resorts and accommodations are doing for the environment in the 10 Best Eco-Resorts in Tonga.
When it comes to supporting local businesses, staying at guesthouses is a more ethical and environmentally friendly accommodation than a large resort owned by some distant overseas corporation. What’s more, guesthouses are run by locals typically using more sustainable methods of living due to the limited infrastructure on these islands, while the food provided is almost always locally sourced and packaging-free.
Learn more about where you can find guesthouses in the 20 Best Guesthouses in Tonga.
Eco-Tours and Attractions in Tonga
Tonga is home to a plethora of eco-friendly and ethical tourist attractions; the biggest highlights are the country’s natural wonders and wildlife encounters, after all! What’s more, a small number of tours have their own environment-enhancing initiatives, while others focus on low-impact solutions to enjoying Tonga’s wilderness.
National Parks and Conservation Areas
Tonga has a number of national parks, marine reserves and other conservation areas providing some of the best conditions and habitats for watching wildlife.
‘Eua National Park
Tonga’s largest national park, ‘Eua National Park on the island of ‘Eua, is home to an interesting array of forest bird species, including red shining parrots, Pacific pigeons, crimson-crowned fruit-doves, Polynesian trillers, wattled honeyeaters, Polynesian starlings and more. Learn more about the national park in the 5 Best Places for Bird Watching in Tonga.
Mt Talau National Park
The Mt Talau National Park is home to two of Tonga’s endemic species, the Tongan whistler and the Casearia buelowii tree. Several international and local organisations have established projects here to protect local species. The national park can be enjoyed by visitors on the Mt Talau walking trail, as highlighted in the 15 Best Walks & Hikes in Tonga.
The village of Kolovai in Tongatapu is not only a place where you’ll find some excellent tourist accommodations and beaches nearby, but it’s also home to a flying fox sanctuary. Just a walk down the road of this small village, while looking at the trees will reveal colonies of flying foxes in the trees.
Toloa Rainforest Reserve
The 6 ha (14-acre) Toloa Rainforest Reserve is one of the last remaining natural forests in Tonga. A nature trail winds through the reserve on the grounds of Tupou College, highlighting natural flora with interpretative signs.
Marine Reserves in Tonga
There are a number of established marine reserves in Tonga where fishing and touching any form of marine life is prohibited. That way, life here thrives, making for exceptional places to snorkel and scuba dive. Marine reserves are added to the list often, but some include:
- Hakaumama’o Reef Reserve, Tongatapu
- Pangaimotu Reef Reserve, Tongatapu
- Malinoa Reef & Island Reserve, Tongatapu
- Ha’atafu Beach Reserve, Tongatapu
- Monuafe Island and Reef Reserve, Tongatapu
- Fanga’uta and Fangakakau Lagoons Marine Reserve, Tongatapu
- Matafonua Lagoon Reef, Ha’apai
- The coral gardens between Nuapapu and Vaketeitu, Vava’u
- Hunga Lagoon Giant Clam Reserve, Vava’u
- Neiafu Harbour Giant Clam Reserve, Vava’u
- Ano Beach Giant Clam Reserve, Vava’u.
Find out more about snorkelling at some of Tonga’s marine reserves in The Guide to Snorkelling in Tonga.
Eco-Tour Operators in Tonga
Some of the top eco-tours in the country include:
- ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden Tour – Educational low-impact nature tour about Tonga’s flora and fauna in Vava’u
- Vaka & Moana Co. – Ethical and local whale swimming operator working in whale conservation and operating a low-waste tours
- Katea Retreat Medicine Walk – Low-impact hiking tour educating on Tongan flora
- Deep Blue Diving – Locally run whale swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving operator running nature-focussed low-waste tours
- Blue Water Retreat – Professional and ethical approach to whale encounters from the island of ‘Eua
- Friendly Island Kayak Co. – Low-impact multi-day kayaking holidays.
Tips for Sustainable Transport in Tonga
More often than not, our biggest environmental impact when travelling is, well, the travelling part. There are, however, some ways to reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to transport in Tonga.
How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint on Your Way to Tonga
While carbon offsetting programs aren’t an excuse to fly more, they can help toward neutralising the associated danger to the planet. Most airlines have the option to pay a carbon offsetting organisation for the amount of CO2 you will emit on your flight. However, you can always do your own research and choose a reputable company with a proven program that invests in renewable energy.
Take the most direct flight to Tonga. Nonstop flights generally require less fuel than flights that need to land and take off again. Check out Which Airlines Fly Directly to Tonga? for details on how to fly more directly.
How to Travel Around Tonga More Sustainably
Flights and ferries in Tonga are on par when it comes to CO2 emissions produced per passenger. Sailing provides more eco-friendly interisland travel for the lucky few who can afford it.
A more realistic way to enjoy a lower-impact holiday in Tonga when it comes to travelling around comes in the form of bicycle hire for land travel. Riding at a natural pace through Tonga’s quaint villages is certainly an amazing way to see the country, which you can learn more about in The Guide to Cycling & Mountain Biking in Tonga.
Another exciting way to holiday with low-impact transport included is a multi-day kayaking tour, such as those with the Friendly Islands Kayak Company (FIKCO). There is an array of packages available, from island-hopping between resorts or camping on the beach. See The Best Kayak Tours in Tonga for more information.
For more advice on travelling around Tonga, check out our Tonga Transport Guide: 15 Ways to Get Around Tonga.
Eco-Friendly Packing Tips for Tonga
Mindful packing not only means that you may save a few bucks on excess luggage fees, but it also can help you be less wasteful while visiting Tonga.
- Only take reef-safe sunscreen with you to Tonga to protect the reefs from harmful chemicals found in traditional sunscreens
- Only use natural insect repellents to protect your skin and the environment from harmful chemicals
- To avoid having to buy bottled water, take a reusable water bottle, such as the Lifestraw Bottle, that removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria
- Pack plastic-free toiletries, such as Ethique shampoo bars, to avoid using plastic-heavy resort toiletries. Plus, no shampoo explosions from your flight!
- Choose luggage that is durable and made with recyclable materials, such as Herschel’s Eco Collection.
And, as we are sure from someone reading this guide about sustainable travel in Tonga, we don’t need to tell you to skip wrapping your luggage in plastic film at the airport…
For more sustainable packing tips, head to the 30 Ways to Travel More Sustainably in Tonga.
More About Ecotourism in Tonga
That’s it for our guide to ecotourism in Tonga. For more sustainability advice, check out the following guides:
- How to Choose Sustainable Accommodation in Tonga
- 30 Ways to Travel More Sustainably in Tonga
- 10 Best Eco Resorts in Tonga