The Luxury Guide to Ha’apai(c) Stephan Kleinlein - Tonga Ministry of Tourism
The Luxury Guide to Ha’apai

The Luxury Travel Guide to Ha’apai

(c) Stephan Kleinlein – Tonga Ministry of Tourism

Luxurious Holidays in Ha’apai

Ha’apai doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. It’s not necessarily brimming with five-star resorts, but it is, in the opinion of many, a five-star destination. Uncrowded, relaxed and absolutely stunning, the island group is certainly a hidden gem of the South Pacific. What’s more, it offers a wide range of premium experiences. Not only are the shallow waters off the shores of the main islands, Lifuka, Foa and Uoleva, a top kitesurfing destination, but they are also teeming with humpback whales where you are in one of the only countries in the world where you can swim with them. Accommodation might be only three to four stars, but the “beach fale” experience is something you’re sure to never forget. Learn more about special experiences in the Ha’apai Islands with this luxury travel guide to Ha’apai.

10 Luxury Activities in Ha’apai

  • Swim with gorgeous humpback whales
  • Explore the islands on horseback
  • Indulge in an island massage
  • Rejuvenate the body, mind and soul in a yoga class
  • Tackle game fish on a fishing charter
  • Get the castaway experience on a private island day trip
  • Be treated to dinner on the beach
  • Hit Tonga’s famous kitesurfing spot
  • Learn how to sail
  • Scuba dive among untouched coral

For more details on each experience, see the 10 Luxury Activities in Ha’apai.

The Luxury Guide to Ha’apai(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

How to Get to Ha’apai

Ha’apai is the middle island group of Tonga, accessible by flight from Tongatapu or by ferry from Tongatapu and Vava’u. Here are some of your more premium ways to get to the islands of Ha’apai.

Ha’apai by Plane

Flights to Ha’apai run two to three times a day from Tongatapu’s Fua’amotu Airport with REALtonga Airlines. The flight is a scenic 50-minute flight landing at Salote Pilolevu Airport on Lifuka Island, an airport with the main road running right through the airstrip (don’t worry, they close the road when flights at scheduled to land). Learn more about flights in Tonga here.

Accommodation Transfers

As soon as you land in Ha’apai, your accommodation provider will look after you. All of the upmarket resorts offer resort transfers by road and/or boat, either at an additional fee or as part of the package. Be sure to arrange this with your chosen accommodation before arrival.

Ha’apai-Tongatapu Sailing Trip

A more exclusive way to get to Ha’apai is via a liveaboard sailing trip with Whale Discoveries. Their eight-day excursion departs from Tongatapu, taking guests to the waters of Ha’apai. Your transport from Tongatapu to Ha’apai (or from Ha’apai to Tongatapu) is included in the rate, but you will need to make your own return journey.

Learn more about transport in Ha’apai in the Learn more about the transport to and on Ha’apai in the 5 Ways to Get to Ha’apai (& Around Ha’apai).

The Luxury Guide to Ha’apai(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

Luxury Water Activities in Ha’apai

The crystal clear waters teeming with tropical life are an enticing place to be in Ha’apai. There are many amazing ways to experience them, between kite-surfing, surfing, sailing, scuba diving, snorkelling, and of course, whale swimming…

Swim with Whales

One of the must-dos in Tonga, whale swimming is available between July and October in the islands of Ha’apai. While swimming with humpback whales can be enjoyed from almost anywhere in Tonga, Ha’apai only has a select few licensed operators sharing a vast area, making for an uncrowded experience for both you and the whales. Spend the day searching and snorkelling with these majestic creatures, often with mothers and their playful calves, then stop by atop a snorkelling spot or an uninhabited island for lunch. Learn more about this life-changing experience in the 5 Best Whale Swim Tours in Ha’apai.

Scuba Diving in Ha’apai

Ha’apai offers incredible dive sites across the archipelago. Sandy Beach Resort is a PADI dive resort, whereas the Ha’apai Beach Resort is affiliated with SSI, both offering scuba diving lessons and dive tours, whether you’re staying at their resorts or elsewhere. Explore unspoiled hard coral bommies and soft coral gardens, swim with tunnel systems and check out amazing pinnacles at various dive sites around the islands.

Kitesurfing in Ha’apai

With vast lagoons matched with favourable tradewinds all year round, Ha’apai is a kitesurfers paradise. Bring your own gear and resorts across the islands will point you in the right direction for epic kitesurfing spots – spoiler alert, it’s usually right off the resort beach! Fanifo Lofa Kitesurf Tonga on Uolevu Island are the experts when it comes to kitesurfing, offering amazing places to play right outside of the resort, as well as kitesurfing safaris to “secret spots”.

The Luxury Guide to Ha’apai(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

Luxury Land Activities in Ha’apai

Admittedly, it can be hard to pull yourself away from the water in Ha’apai, but there’s still plenty to keep your feet on dry land for. Here’s just a couple of ideas pulled from our 10 Luxury Activities in Ha’apai.

Indulge in an Island Massage

The islands of Ha’apai are relaxing as they are, but if you want to heighten the experience, then take advantage of the heavenly massages available. Indulge in a pampering session at the Sea Change Eco Retreat, which offers full-body, head, neck and shoulder massages. Alternatively, Serenity Beaches Resort offers relaxing island treatments. Both resorts also offer yoga sessions.

Horse Riding in Ha’apai

Ha’apai is home to some beautiful horses, still used by islanders as a transport method. Join in on the action with a horse riding trip available from Sandy Beach Resort. Ride bareback “island-style” from a local village, riding through lush tropical forest and canter across a long stretch of beach. You can even take your horse for a swim in the sparkling beachside waters.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Tonga. She knows the islands inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Tonga’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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