Tonga Scuba Diving Guide
Tonga: its underwater world has everything you want from a tropical destination and more. Dive with the rays, sharks, colourful reef fish and then some. Encounter majestic humpback whales and explore coral archways, vertical walls, pinnacles and caves and the list continues… What’s more, the visibility averaging at around 30m (100ft) makes the experience all the more vivid. So if you’re dreaming of diving in Tonga, start seeing how you can make it a reality with this guide to scuba diving in Tonga.
The Best Time to Scuba Dive in Tonga
Although there are two distinct seasons in Tonga, summer (December to April) and winter (May to November), the difference of diving conditions between the two is often minimal. This makes Tonga an ideal destination to scuba dive all year round.
In winter, the air temperatures are typically 19-29°C (66-84°F) and sea temperatures are around 21°C (69°F). In summer, the air temperatures are typically 23-31°C (74-88°F) and sea temperatures are around 24°C (75°F).
For more information, see the The Best Time to Scuba Dive in Tonga.
The Best Places to Dive in Tonga
Tonga is a nation of 170 islands, where the waters just about anywhere reveal amazing dive sites. For visitors, however, the best places to dive is where some of these vibrant dive sites also have proximity to scuba diving operators and rentals, as well as accommodation – ensuring an effortless dive holiday.
Scuba Diving in Vava’u
The island group of Vava’u has by far the widest range of dive operators and dive sites to explore in Tonga. Some 50 islands are tightly packed together to create some amazing underwater seascapes, from caves to tunnels to coral formations shaped like Chinese architecture (at least in the case of the China Town dive site). There’s also one of Tonga’s best wreck dives sitting upright just 30m (100ft) deep in the Neiafu Harbour. Learn more about the dive sites in the 10 Best Dive Sites in Vava’u.
Scuba Diving in Ha’apai
The Ha’apai group sits between Vava’u and Tongatapu, a scattering of around 62 islands. Much less visited, Ha’apai’s dive sites remain pristine and uncrowded with interesting sites including a cave with a hydrothermal vent and an ancient coral archway formed during the last ice age. What’s more, visibility tends to be better than anywhere else in the Kingdom. Check out some of the dive sites in the 5 Best Dive Sites in Ha’apai.
Scuba Diving in Tongatapu & ‘Eua
Sitting in the southern reaches of Tonga, the main island of Tonga, Tongatapu, and the neighbouring island of ‘Eua have some dive sites worth checking out. The must-do is Cathedral Cave underneath the island of ‘Eua. It’s one of the largest sea caves in the world at 100m (330ft) long and 50m (165ft) wide at 30m (100ft) deep. The surrounding lagoon and outer reef of Tongatapu also have some interesting features and an array of life to admire. Learn more about the Tongatapu and ‘Eua dive sites in the 10 Best Dive Sites in Tonga.
For more information on the best islands for diving in Tonga, take a look at the 5 Best Places to Scuba in Tonga.
What to See in Tonga
Tonga’s marine life is so diverse that listing everything here would be an impossible task. It’s thought that there are around 1,500 species of fish and 700 species of coral in Tonga’s waters alone. However, there are certainly more common species to see in Tonga’s tropical waters, from the tiniest nudibranchs to the largest whales.
One of the highlights of Tonga’s waters is the humpback whales that migrate to Tonga between June and October. Snorkelling with the whales is a popular and regulated activity in Tonga, which you can learn more about in The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga.
Reefs in Tonga are home to a gargantuan variety of species, such as barracuda, butterflyfish, clownfish, tuna, manta rays, eagle rays, marlin, reef sharks, turtles, crayfish, shrimps, nudibranchs and much much more.
Dives in Tonga also often feature amazing coral formations with a variety of hard and soft coral to admire, as well as sea fans.
Dive Resorts and Operators
Unlike other South Pacific nations, Tonga is not typically a holiday destination of “dive resorts”, although it does have at least two. However, there are plenty of operators that are either PADI or SSI affiliated that offer safe and enjoyable recreational dives and courses. They also often work with nearby resorts offering pick-up for guests.
Dive Operators in Vava’u
- Dive Tonga
- Beluga Diving
- Dolphin Pacific Diving
- Tongan Expeditions
- Riki Tiki Tours
Learn more about these operators in the 5 Best Scuba Diving Tours in Vava’u.
Dive Operators in Ha’apai
- Matafonua Lodge
- Ha’apai Beach Resort
Learn more about these operators in The Best Scuba Diving Tours in Ha’apai.
Diver Operators in Tongatapu & ‘Eua
- Deep Blue Diving
- Blue Water Explorer