The Family Guide to Tongatapu
Tongatapu is an exciting destination for families, especially those who love to adventure together. Get out on the water to see humpback whales or snorkel at colourful reefs or check out impressive formations on land! As for accommodation, families have a range of beach and island resorts, as well as Nuku’alofa hotels depending on what sort of getaway you are looking for. Either way, we’ll guide you through the highlights in this travel guide to Tongatapu for families.
10 Things to Do in Tongatapu with Kids
- Explore the amazing ‘Anahulu Cave
- See flying foxes at Kolovai
- Go on a snorkelling excursion from Nuku’alofa
- Check out the awesome Mapu ‘a Vaea Blowholes
- Build sandcastles at one of Tongatapu’s beaches
- Learn how to scuba dive in a Bubble Maker course
- Kayak around a picturesque lagoon in Holonga Village
- See the hilarious fishing pigs
- Watch a Tongan cultural show and indulge in a Tongan feast
- See the whales on a whale watching/swimming tour
Learn more about each experience in our 10 Things to Do on Tongatapu with Kids.
How to Get to Tongatapu
With an international airport and a cruise ship port, Tongatapu is one of the easiest destinations to get to in Tonga. As for getting around, families have a choice of taxis, airport/accommodation shuttles, boat transport to the island resorts, taxis, car rentals and even the local bus if you’re being extra frugal.
Tongatapu by Plane
Tongatapu is home to Fua’amotu International Airport, Tonga’s main international airport. Direct flights are available to Fua’amotu Airport from New Zealand, Australia and Fiji (all of which have connections), as well as from Tonga’s outer islands – see Which Airlines Fly Straight to Tonga? for more information.
Tongatapu Car Rentals
Car rentals are available on Tongatapu, with depots in Nuku’alofa, Fua’amotu Airport and Liahona. Before you rent a car, you need a Visitor’s Driver’s License, which costs around TOP$40 and can be obtained from the Traffic Department on Bypass Road across from St Andrews School in Nuku’alofa. Check out your options in The Best Car Rentals in Tongatapu.
Getting between the airport and your chosen Tongatapu accommodation is made easy with many accommodations offering airport transfers. For island resorts, there are scheduled boat departures from Faua Wharf in Nuku’alofa. Alternatively, airport transfer services are available with companies like Teta Tours & Travel taking you anywhere across the island. Find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Taxis on Tongatapu
Taxis are widely available around Nuku’alofa and Fua’amotu Airport. They will need to be booked/called if travelling from elsewhere. Taxis charge about TOP$30-$50 to travel between Nuku’alofa and the airport, TOP$5-$8 to get around the city, and a minimum fare of TOP$3 for the first kilometre and around TOP$1.50 for every kilometre after that should you be travelling outside of Nuku’alofa. You can also agree on a fare to your destination before you use a taxi.
Learn more about getting around Tongatapu in the 10 Ways to Get to Tongatapu (& Around Tongatapu).
Water Activities for Families
Kids love the water, and with water temperatures dropping no lower than 25ºC (77ºF) in Tonga, it’s comfortable and enjoyable. Tongatapu is lined with amazing beaches, surrounded by islands to explore, and has a thriving underwater world to discover.
Go to the Beach!
What kid doesn’t love going to the beach?! Tongatapu really has an amazing array of beaches for building sandcastles, swimming and reef-walking. Check out some of the best beaches in our 10 Best Beaches on Tongatapu.
Kayak at Holonga Lagoon
While full-day and half-day kayak excursions are available, one of the best options if travelling with little ones is hiring a double kayak and paddling around the protected lagoon at Holonga. Taufatahi Charters offers kayak rentals to explore the lagoon with a small island in the middle.
Go on a Snorkelling Trip
Discover Tonga’s amazing array of corals and tropical fish on a family-friendly snorkelling tour from Tongatapu. Snorkelling trips are in sheltered waters surrounding uninhabited islands. After a 20-40-minute boat trip from Nuku’alofa’s Faua Wharf, you’ll get to the snorkelling hotspot where gear will be provided. Trips are available with Blue Water Explorer, Tuna Moana and Deep Blue Diving. Find out more in The Best Snorkel & Scuba Dive Tours on Tongatapu.
Land Activities for Families
Tongatapu is brimming with sights, from amazing land formations to wildlife meccas. Either rent a car or take one of the Tongatapu island tours to see the major sights. Check out tours in The Best Tours of Tongatapu.
Delve into an impressive limestone cave with a walkway and a swimming hole at the end. ‘Anahulu Cave, on the eastern side of Tongatapu near Fatumu, is around TOP$15 entry and is a self-guided walk on a well-formed path through the cave. The cave is well-lit with lights and boasts a fun and refreshing swimming hole at the end, so take your swimwear! Tours to the caves are also available with Teta Tours & Travel (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Mapu’a Vaea Blowholes
Watch the sea bursting through tiny blowholes at the Mapu ‘a Vaea Blowholes! The blowholes stretch some 5km (3 miles) along the southwest coast of Tongatapu where hundreds of blowholes can be seen spurting at once. While it’s fun to see the blowholes at any time, the best times are during windy days or when the swells are strong to see water shooting up to 30m (100ft)! Find the blowholes near the village of Houma.
See the Flying Foxes of Kolovai
You’ll probably hear the unusual squeaks before you see the flying foxes of Kolovai. While flying foxes, otherwise known as fruit bats, can be seen across Tongatapu, one of the best places to see them is in the trees of the village of Kolovai, which is a flying fox sanctuary. Stop by the village and simply look up at the trees to see the huge bats interacting. The best time to see them is between October and February.
More About Tongatapu
That’s it for the complete travel guide to Tongatapu for families. Get even more inspiration for your family getaway with The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families and the 10 Things to Do in Tonga with Kids.