The SUP Guide to Tonga
Stand-up paddleboard or SUP is becoming as popular as kayaking across the South Pacific. But in this off-the-beaten-track destination of Tonga, SUP boards can only really be hired from the select few resorts that have them. Nevertheless, those in the know will find some amazing paddleboard spots on Tonga’s tranquil lagoons, marine reserves and even where there are some waves for a bit of SUP-surf. So check out your options when it comes to stand-up paddleboarding in Tonga in the guide below.
Quick Tips for Paddleboarding in Tonga
- For SUP enthusiasts, the best islands to head to is Ha’apai
- Looking for a SUP tour? Check out the tours available with Matafonua Lodge and Sandy Beach Resort
- New to SUP? Ask for a quick paddle lesson from your resort’s staff
- Paddleboarding with kids can be a lot of fun, but make sure your chosen resort also has children’s lifejackets as these are not always available
- SUP board hire outside of the resorts is extremely limited so it’s best to choose a resort with SUP-hire if you want to be able to go for a paddle during your time in Tonga.
The Best Places to SUP in Tonga
Stand-up paddleboarding is a fun and active yet not-too-exhausting way to explore the stunning waters and islands of Tonga, but where is the best destination for paddleboarding in Tonga? Well, it depends on who you ask, but here’s an overview of the best island groups for paddleboarding based on the general water conditions and SUP hire availability.
Starting with, what we think, is the best place for paddleboarding in Tonga, Ha’apai has ideal conditions for SUP! The central island group might be a little expensive to get to, but many think it’s worth it to spend some time on tranquil islands with sweeping sandy beaches and turquoise lagoons. Ha’apai has a good selection of resorts offering SUP board and paddle hire, which you can make use of in the butter-flat lagoons in front of many of the resorts and beaches. When the swell is right, there are also fun little waves to surf.
Vava’u is a compact cluster of islands, often making for extremely sheltered conditions ideal for paddleboarding close to shore. Glide over shallow reefs in sheltered bays and explore some of its stunning uninhabited islands. While not many resorts offer SUP hire, they are sometimes available on sailing charters or worth bringing your own.
Paddleboarding can be a fun way to explore the beaches and marine reserve off Ha’atafu and Kanokupolu Beach of Tongatapu, with some fun waves to try out for the more advanced SUPpers. Alternatively, some of the island resorts in the north of Tongatapu also offer complimentary SUP hire for guests, which are a good way to explore the sheltered waters surrounding them.
Resorts with Stand-Up Paddleboard Hire
While SUP is certainly not as popular in Tonga as kayaking, it’s fast becoming another inclusion for free hire at many of Tonga’s resorts. Here is a list of all of the known resorts and accommodations in Tonga with SUP boards and paddles for hire.
Resorts with SUP Hire in Tongatapu
Resorts with SUP Hire in Ha’apai
Resorts with SUP Hire in Vava’u
For more details on each accommodation listed, check out the 10 Best Resort for SUP in Tonga.
SUP Tours and Classes
Admittedly, options are limited when it comes to guided stand-up paddleboarding tours and classes, but currently, your most comprehensive SUP experiences can be found at Matafonua Lodge and Sandy Beach Resort in the Ha’apai group.
The sister resorts, located a short distance from each other on the tip of Foa Island, not only offer SUP hire for guests, but also have a range of tours. They have both sturdy inflatable SUP boards for beginners, as well as fibreglass boards in a range of sizes for the enthusiast.
The resort’s host daily SUP safaris, taking you to some hotspots around the island that are most suitable for the conditions. They also offer sunset tours where guides light up the reef with floodlights so you can see a coral reef and marine reserve in a whole new way.
Finally, the resorts also offer SUP fitness classes and SUP yoga classes, making them a popular destination for SUP and yoga retreats.