How to Visit ‘Eua on a Budget
‘Eua is the ultimate backpacking destination in Tonga. Cheap to get to, mainly consisting of budget accommodations, and almost all activities being either free or very affordable, you certainly don’t need to empty your wallet to have a good time here. What’s more, Tonga’s oldest island is home to incredible landscapes which are affordable to reach and are free to admire. Whale watching and spearfishing make up some of the more expensive experiences here but seeing what’s left after having affordable accommodation and food options, you might just end up spoiling yourself…
Learn more about experiencing ‘Eua as a budget traveller in this travel guide to ‘Eua on a budget!
8 Tips for Visiting ‘Eua on a Budget
Before we jump into our complete budget travel guide for ‘Eua, here are just a few ways you can save money on your trip:
- The cheapest way to get to ‘Eua is by ferry from Nuku’alofa
- Spend some time doing free and cheap activities in ‘Eua
- While affordable meals are available to order at retreats and some guesthouses, self-catering offers a much cheaper alternative and is available in most accommodations
- Speaking of accommodation, all of ‘Eua’s accommodations are budget or have budget options
- Compare your options for whale watching and swimming before you book as those more expensive activities are wildly different in price between companies
- Visit outside of the whale season to find cheaper rates at ‘Eua’s more upscale accommodations
- Have cash available to avoid unfavourable exchange rates and credit card fees (plus, many places don’t accept cards)
- Look at accommodation inclusions during your stay to compare the value, as some include airport/wharf transfers and/or meals in their rates, for example.
How to Get to ‘Eua on a Budget
Being only 40 km (15 mi) away from the main arrival island in Tonga, Tongatapu, ‘Eua Island is one of the cheapest outer islands to get to. While short flights are available, budget travellers may prefer the cost and experience of one of the ferries to the island.
‘Eua by Ferry
The cheapest way to get to ‘Eua is by taking the ferry from Taufa’ahau Tupou IV Domestic Wharf in Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu. Several ferry operators approximately a two-hour journey and cost around TOP$30 per passenger. Although ferries run on a schedule, it’s best to contact the ferry providers before departure as schedules are known to change. Learn more about taking the ferry in The Guide to Travelling in Tonga by Ferry.
How to Get Around ‘Eua
With no public transport available on ‘Eua, accommodation providers fill up the demand. Accommodations offer airport/wharf transfers as a standard, which are either included in the accommodation rate or TOP$10-$20 one-way. Most accommodations also offer island tours for sightseeing ranging from TOP$100-$300, most are happy to accept outside guests, so it’s worth asking around. Check out some of the land tours available in The Best Guided Tours in ‘Eua.
A limited few grocery stores on ‘Eua, as well as the odd accommodation, offer affordable car rental services that are ideal for getting between villages. Due to the very rough road conditions to ‘Eua’s natural attractions, especially in the ‘Eua National Park, we recommend taking an island tour over a rental car to these attractions. For more information on rental cars, as well as other forms of transport, see the 5 Ways to Get to (& Around) ‘Eua.
Free and Cheap Activities in ‘Eua
Getting out, seeing some amazing natural landscapes, and engaging in the local culture can all be done at a free or reasonable price on the island of ‘Eua. The costs are kept to a minimum with many free self-guided hikes (although transport will come at a small fee), while the guided hikes aren’t too expensive either at around TOP$80-$100. Cultural experiences like going to church, joining kava sessions or experiencing an umu are also available and will hardly send you over TOP$50! Here are just some of the free and cheap highlights of ‘Eua…
Self-Guided Hikes in ‘Eua
While some walks through the dense forests of ‘Eua definitely require local knowledge, there are a few amazing walks that can be tackled independently. Popular trails include the Forest Plantation Hike, which takes you through an amazing planted forest of varying tree species, and the Rock Garden Hike to amazing rock formations, cliffs and the Li’anga Huo ‘a Maui natural archway. Note these walks are a good option on a Sunday when most other activities are unavailable for the “Day of Rest”. Learn more about walks in the area in the 5 Best Hikes in ‘Eua.
4WD Tours in ‘Eua
If you’re not much into hiking or have limited time on the island, a great way to see some of the island’s amazing natural attractions on a 4WD tour. Most accommodations on the island offer their own versions of 4WD tours, all with their own itineraries but likely to visit sights like the famous giant banyan tree, the ‘Ovava Tree, as well as the Rock Garden and Lakufa’anga Cliffs, Li’angahuo ‘a Maui natural archway, secluded beaches and snorkelling spots. 4WD tours are available from many accommodations, costing approximately TOP$100 for cheapest options but note that there is the odd accommodation charging TOP$300-$500. Check out The Best Guided Tours in ‘Eua to compare your options.
What does nightlife look like on a traditional island in the South Pacific? The local men gather together most evenings on the island of ‘Eua for “faikava“. In other words, to sit in a circle, drink kava, sing and play the guitar. Kava is a narcotic drink made from the ground roots of a kava plant. Note that female tourists are welcome too, even if it’s usually just the local men that get involved.
Ask your accommodation provider if they can recommend a local faikava. You’ll find that the locals are very welcoming and are proud to share their culture with visitors. Either bring a bag of kava powder, which you can usually find at local grocery stores for around TOP$25-$50, or leave a TOP$50 donation.
For those staying at Blue Water Retreat, note that they host a kava session at the retreat once a week.
‘Eua is blessed with some glorious beaches, most of which are often completely secluded. ‘Eua’s beaches are ideal for walking, collecting shells (if you have kids or just like shells, dammit), watching whales and exploring tidal pools with some even big enough to snorkel in like your own human-sized aquarium! Check out Ha’aluma Beach on the south coast for its long white sandy shores and ancient Tongan stone cuts. Tufuvai Beach is also picturesque and easy to access from waterfront accommodations. ‘Ufilei Beach is just north of ‘Ohonua and is a good beach for swimming. Find the locations of each beach mentioned in the 5 Best Beaches on ‘Eua.
For more suggestions, check out 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do in ‘Eua.
Dining on a Budget in ‘Eua
As you might have guessed, ‘Eua isn’t exactly overflowing with restaurants. When it comes to eating, accommodations often provide meals, while self-catering is also often available. Here are a few tips for feeding yourself while keeping the costs low in ‘Eua.
Restaurants on ‘Eua
‘Eua is home to an incredibly small selection of eateries. Talei’s Restaurant (north end of Pangai), formerly Fane’s Restaurant, serves all your comfort classics, from ika kelevi (fish in sauce) to fish/sausage/chicken and chips/manioke, and all for a very very affordable price. Enjoy it all in the pleasant undercover seating area or order to takeaway. Available Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.
Place your order before 1 pm and the team at ‘Alakoka Tahi Moana Guest House (Pangai) can spruce up grilled fish, chicken curry, fish and chips of a vegetarian ensemble at their on-site restaurant for guests and non-guests alike. Available Monday to Saturday.
Finally, if you need to pick up something on the go or an emergency ice cream, Lei’ataua Canteen (Pangai) has light bites like meat pies, sandwiches, sushi, ice cream, popcorn and more for sale at their hole-in-the-wall canteen next to their grocery store.
Self-Catering on ‘Eua
Combine the facilities of one of the 5 Best Self-Catering Accommodations on ‘Eua with the food supplies available at one of the many grocery stores across Pangai or fale koloa (smaller convenience stores) elsewhere and enjoy the privacy and affordability of self-catering on ‘Eua. Learn more about food shopping in Information, Shops & Services in ‘Eua and The Guide to Food Shopping in Tonga.
More About ‘Eua on a Budget
That’s it for our complete travel guide to ‘Eua on a budget. For more tips to help you save the pa’anga, take a look at the following guides:
- 20 Best Things to Do in ‘Eua
- How Much Spending Money Do You Need for Tonga?
- The Complete Travel Guide to ‘Eua
Finally, get more budgeting advice from The Travel Guide to Tonga on a Budget and Tonga Travel Budget: How Much Does a Trip to Tonga Cost?