How to Visit ‘Eua on a Budget
‘Eua is the ultimate backpacking destination in Tonga. Cheap to get to, only having budget accommodation on the island, 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 cheap to reach and are free to admire. Whale watching and scuba diving 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!
7 Tips for Visiting ‘Eua on a Budget
- 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 resorts and lodges, self-catering offers a much cheaper alternative and is available in most accommodation
- Speaking of accommodation, all of ‘Eua’s accommodation is budget, with the cheapest option being the dorms at Taina’s Place
- Compare your options for whale watching and swimming before you book as those more expensive activities are wildly different in price between companies
- Have cash available to avoid unfavourable exchange rates and credit card fees (plus, some places don’t accept card)
- Look at what are the inclusions during your stay to compare the value, as not all accommodation include airport/wharf transfers, for example.
For elaboration on each tip, take a look at the 10 Tips for Visiting ‘Eua on a Budget.
How to Get to ‘Eua on a Budget
Being only 40km (15 miles) 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 Queen Salote Wharf, Nuku’alofa on Tongatapu. Two ferry operators offer a 1-hour to 2h30mins journey and cost approximately TOP$20-25 per person. Although ferries run on a schedule (recent schedules can be accessed at the Nuku’alofa Visitor Information Centre), it’s best to contact the ferry providers before departure as schedules are known to change. Learn more about taking the ferry in Tonga here.
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$4-$20 one-way. Most accommodations will also offer pick-up and drop-offs at hiking trails or attractions around the island, usually either free or TOP$20-$70 return.
Bicycle Hire on ‘Eua
Bicycle hire is available from Taina’s Place and The Hideaway, costing approximately TOP$10 for a half-day and around TOP$20 for a full-day rental. Because distances are quite deceiving on the island, it’s best to seek advice from your accommodation host before you head out.
Get more tips from the 5 Ways to Get to ‘Eua (& Get 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. Horse riding, cultural crafting lessons, kava parties and 4WD tours 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. Accommodation providers, such as The Hideaway and Taina’s Place, offer transport to well-marked hiking trails, along with maps/information on where to go. Popular trails include the Forest Plantation Hike, taking you through an amazing planted forest of varying tree species, and the Rock Garden Hike to amazing rock formations, cliffs and the Li’angahuo ‘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 The Hideaway, Taina’s Place, Blue Water Retreat and Seta Homestay, costing approximately TOP$70-$85.
Horse Riding in ‘Eua
‘Eua is known for its wild horses, especially seen in the southern parts of the island. Some locals have tame horses too, making for a special way to experience the landscapes of the island on horseback. What’s more, horse riding is an affordable experience, costing approximately TOP$15 for a half-day hire or TOP$30 for a full-day hire, and a little bit more if needing to hire a guide for inexperienced riders. A popular ride is from ‘Ohonua to ‘Ufilei Beach.
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.
Most accommodations in ‘Eua offer meals to guests, but you need to let them know in advance, as this is not your usual restaurant set-up. There are usually no menus, so you will be experiencing authentic Tongan cuisine of vegetables, meat and fish sourced from the island accompanied with ingredients brought in from the mainland. Some accommodations provide basic breakfast food for self-catering, such as at The Hideaway, or included cooked breakfasts, such as at Ovava Tree Lodge. Otherwise, meal orders cost approximately TOP$10-$15 for breakfast, TOP$15-$20 for lunch and TOP$20-$30. Let your accommodation know about any dietary requirements prior to arrival to give your hosts enough time to prepare.
Many of the accommodations on ‘Eua have self-catering facilities, where fruit and vegetables can be purchased from local market stalls and basic necessities can be purchased from fale koloa (convenience stores). If you’re travelling from Tongatapu via ferry, it’s a good idea to have a few essentials already packed.