The Guide to Food Shopping in Tonga(c)
The Guide to Food Shopping in Tonga

A Guide to Supermarkets & Food Shopping in Tonga


The Complete Guide to Self-Catering and Buying Food and Drink in Tonga

Travellers wanting to experience a slice of life in Tonga or perhaps opt for spending less of their travel budget on food than eating out can buy their own! Small supermarkets, roadside stalls, produce markets and “fale koloa” can be found across The Kingdom to tend to your grocery shopping needs. Understand where you can shop for food, food tips and more in the guide to supermarkets and food shopping in Tonga.

5 Tips for Food Shopping in Tonga

  1. Make sure your accommodation has a kitchen if you wish to cook your own meals. Browse self-catering accommodations in our Foodie Accommodation Guides
  2. You will mostly need cash to pay for food in Tonga. Only some supermarkets accept credit cards
  3. Bargaining is not typically practised in Tonga. If the seller is asking for a high price, just try somewhere else
  4. Fruit is very seasonal in Tonga; only fruit such as coconuts, bananas and papaya are available all year round
  5. Have dietary requirements? Tonga is not well-stocked with special diet food; so it’s best to bring these items from home – see Taking Food to Tonga: What You Need to Know.

The Guide to Food Shopping in Tonga(c)

Buying Food from Supermarkets in Tonga

Found in Tonga’s most populated towns and villages, supermarkets are stocked with a mix of local food and drinks, as well as overseas imports, particularly from New Zealand, Australia and China.

Supermarkets are smaller than what you would find in more developed countries, with small supermarkets typically run by locals or Chinese. Be aware that although the most common basic food items are available in Tonga, particularly dried, tinned and frozen food, you will not find much variety. Most supermarkets sell freshly baked goods, either supplied from a local bakery or baked in-house. Limited fresh produce is available at Tongan supermarkets – typically imported from New Zealand when available. ‘Eua supermarkets are the exception, as ‘Eua does not have a central produce market.

The only “large” supermarket in Tonga is Costlow in Pea, Tongatapu. However, it’s only the building that’s large, as stock is very minimal. Therefore, we don’t recommend travellers to make any special trips to buy groceries from here.

Opening hours for supermarkets in Tonga are typically 8:30 am to 7 am (some Chinese stores will stay open until 10/11 pm), Monday to Friday but expect some stores to close early on a Saturday. No supermarkets are open on a Sunday.

For more information on where to find supermarkets in each island group, take a look at Information, Shops & Services in TongatapuInformation, Shops & Services on ‘Eua, Information, Shops & Services in Ha’apai and Information, Shops & Services in Vava’u.

Food Prices in Tonga Supermarkets

Basic food items in Tonga are marginally more expensive than New Zealand and Australia but luxury food items like dairy products, chocolate, etc. are significantly more expensive. For an idea of food prices, check out The Cost of Food in Tonga: Restaurant & Grocery Prices.

The Guide to Food Shopping in Tonga(c)

Buying Food from Fale Koloa

Smaller than supermarkets, fale koloa are hole-in-the-wall (or shipping container, as the case may be) convenience stores, typically found in villages. They are usually small one-room buildings with a wire grate at the window.

Customers talk to the store clerk through the window and ask for the items they want to buy. The clerk will say the price of the item for you to pay. When you pay, the clerk might take the money into the back of the shop to get change. Then they will hand over the change and the item/s you have purchased. Simple!

The price of goods here will be similar to the supermarket prices – see The Cost of Food in Tonga. Note that the variety of goods will be much smaller than a supermarket, but you can typically pick up a few essentials and perhaps top up your phone credit.

Fale koloa have varying opening hours, typically opening around 9 am and closing sometime after dark. They are closed on a Sunday.

The Guide to Food Shopping in Tonga(c)

Buying Food from Markets and Roadside Stalls in Tonga

The centres of Tonga’s largest communities are the local town markets, which are the best places to buy fruit and vegetables in Tonga. Alternatively, roadside fruit and vegetable stalls can be found in villages and towns throughout Tonga.

Small fruits and vegetables are typically sold by the pile or the bunch, while larger produce is sold per piece. Needless to say, stallholders only accept cash payments. Some stallholders may charge tourists more than locals, so make sure you know what prices are reasonable from The Cost of Food in Tonga: Restaurant & Grocery Prices.

Markets in Tonga are typically open from 8:30 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday. Roadside stalls have varying opening hours but are typically open 24 hours Monday-Saturday. No markets or roadside stalls operate on Sunday.

Discover where to find all of Tonga’s markets in the 5 Best Markets in Tonga.

The Guide to Food Shopping in Tonga©

Buying Drinks from Liquor Stores in Tonga

Wholesalers and liquor stores need a liquor license to sell alcoholic beverages in Tonga. Therefore, liquor stores tend to be your best option for buying beer, wine, RTDs and liqueurs in Tonga.

Liquor stores can mainly be found in each island group’s main town, such as Nuku’alofa (Tongatapu), Neiafu (Vava’u) and Angaha (‘Eua). Liquor stores in Tonga are either similar to supermarkets or a hole-in-the-wall-style fale koloa.

Liquor store brands in Tonga include Leiola (Nuku’alofa, Fua’amotu Airport and Neiafu), Lion Liquor (Nuku’alofa), Downtown Liquor (Nuku’alofa), Pacific Brewing Co. (Nuku’alofa), Talei’s Liquor Store (Angaha).

Liquor stores in Tonga are typically open from 9/10 am to 9 pm Monday to Saturday. Closed Sunday.

More About Food Shopping in Tonga

That’s it for the guide to food shopping in Tonga. For more advice on food, check out the following guides:

Finally, bookmark Tonga Travel Budget: How Much Does a Trip to Tonga Cost? for even more budgeting advice.


Robin (Lopini) C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before settling in the South Pacific, so he knows a thing or two about planning the perfect trip in this corner of the world. Robin works and consults regularly with the Ministry of Tourism of Tonga. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides and is a regular host of webinars with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.

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