The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga
The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga

The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga

© TongaPocketGuide.com

Plan a Wedding or Honeymoon in Tonga

Tonga has the azure waters, the sandy shores and the swaying coconut palms to complete a dreamy island wedding or honeymoon. However, the only Kingdom in the South Pacific also has the advantages of being off-the-beaten-track and undoubtedly different. The islands are rich in culture and history while the waters are home to a dizzying array of tropical life, as well as visitors such as humpback whales, which – by the way – you can swim with if you hadn’t heard. Needless to say, Tonga makes for an unforgettable honeymoon, which we go into the details of what each island group is all about in this wedding and honeymoon guide to Tonga.

If you want to get married in Tonga, however, there are some hoops to jump through, but those who have the time to take the necessary one month in Tonga before your big day, most would agree that the stay is worth it. Check out How to Organise Your Wedding in Tonga for more information on getting married in Tonga.

About Tonga

Location: In the South Pacific in the continent of Oceania. Tonga is directly south of Samoa and two-thirds of the way between Hawaii and New Zealand.

Size: 750 km² (290 mi²) of land scattered over 700,000 km² (270,000 mi²) of ocean

Climate: Daily average temperature – 26°C/79°F, yearly average rainfall – 1,600mm/63″
Find out more in What is the Weather Like in Tonga?

Time zone: TST / GMT+13
Find out more in What is the Tonga Time Zone?

Population: 103,200
Find out more in Who are the People of Tonga?

Languages: Tongan and English
Find out more in The Guide to the Tongan Language

The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

How to Get to Tonga

First things first, you’ll need to see if you are actually able to travel to Tonga due to restrictions put in place at the borders after the COVID-19 outbreak. Visit the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga‘s website for the latest travel information.

Next, what is the best way to get to Tonga? Tonga can be accessed by flight, cruise ship or private sailing yachts. The most popular way to get to Tonga is by international flight, so let’s start with that.

Flying to Tonga

Direct international flights to Tonga come from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Samoa and American Samoa. If you’re coming from further afield, connecting flights can be made in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji. See our guide, Which Airlines Fly to Tonga? for more advice on flying to Tonga.

Most international arrivals land at Fua’amotu International Airport on the island of Tongatapu, 21km (13 miles) from the nation’s capital, Nuku’alofa. A limited number of flights also arrive at Lupepau’u International Airport in Vava’u, about 10km (6 miles) from Neiafu. Find out more about these airports and the best one to fly to in What Are the Airports in Tonga?

Cruises to Tonga

Tonga is on the itinerary of several South Pacific cruises from New Zealand, Australia and the US, as well as round-the-world cruises from the US and the UK. There are two ports of call in Tonga, one in Nuku’alofa on Tongatapu and the other in Neiafu in Vava’u. Find out about which cruiseliners have Tonga on their itinerary, as well as what to do at each port of call in The Guide to Taking a Cruise to Tonga.

Sailing to Tonga

Tonga is situated at the centre of a Transpacific journey between the US and New Zealand. The yachting season is between May and October. Learn about the sailing formalities and the ports of entry in The Sailing Guide to Tonga.

A Note on Customs Declarations

Tonga has strict biosecurity measures at the border to stop unwanted pests and diseases from entering the country. Therefore, anyone arriving in Tonga has to declare any “risk items” they have packed in their luggage – even common items like food and sports gear. Be sure to read up on Everything You Need to Know About Arriving in Tonga so you are prepared.

Check out our complete guide on How to Get to Tonga for even more tips on making your way to the islands of Tonga.

The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

The Best Time to Visit Tonga

Tonga is a tropical country and experiences warm temperatures throughout the year. It has two distinct seasons, a dry season that is drier and cooler, and a wet season that is hot and humid. Learn much more about the weather and climate by month in What is the Weather Like in Tonga?

Dry Season (May to November)

The dry season is also known as the winter season in Tonga, although many would not describe it as winter with temperatures around 19-29°C (66-84°F). The rainfall per month is an average of 110mm (3.9″). The dry season is also the time for whale swimming and the clearest visibility for scuba diving.

Wet Season (December to April)

The wet season is hotter and more humid, with temperatures around 23-31°C (74-88°F) and an average monthly rainfall of 210mm (8.3″). This is also Tonga’s cyclone season, which means there’s a risk of cyclones (but only a risk).

So when is the best time to travel to Tonga? Check out our complete guide, The Best Time to Visit Tonga, which dives deeper into the subject.

The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

Couples’ Packing List for Tonga

The main thing you need to keep in mind when packing for Tonga is having a tropical wardrobe that includes some more modest items of clothing for exploring Tonga’s towns and villages. A packing list for Tonga might look a little something like this:

  • Shorts/Skirts/Dresses (some below the knee for leaving the resort)
  • Singlets/T-Shirts (some to cover the shoulders for leaving the resort)
  • Sarong (lavalava) for a quick cover-up
  • Light sleepwear
  • Light jacket/Cardigan/Pashmina for cooler evenings
  • Light fleece jumper (something to keep warm after swimming from a boat)
  • A smarter outfit covering the shoulders and knees if going to church
  • Clothes to travel in
  • Underwear
  • Bikini/Boardshorts
  • One-piece swimsuit for watersports/village stay
  • Rash vest
  • Flip-flops/Sandals
  • Reef shoes
  • Walking shoes
  • Sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Light cotton shirt to cover arms and protect from the sun and mosquitos
  • Light rain jacket/Small umbrella

And that’s just the clothes! For a full packing list of everything to take, including accessories and toiletries, check out The Complete Packing List for Tonga.

Health Products

With questionable drinking water, high UV levels and the presence of mosquitos, certain health products are essential to take to Tonga. Tonga also has a fragile marine ecosystem so natural sunscreens and repellents are a must, while reusable water purification bottles are preferable to buying bottled water for obvious environmental reasons. See our health essentials packing list in What Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for Tonga.

Currency

The currency in Tonga is Tongan Pa’anga. You will need to be prepared to get by on cash for much of your stay as this is often the only payment method accepted. There are ATMs in the four main towns of Tonga. Get more money tips in What is The Best Way to Pay in Tonga?

Do You Need a Visa to Visit Tonga?

For citizens of around 70 different countries, the answer is no. You just need to arrive in Tonga with a valid passport. Citizens not of visa-exempt countries will need an Entry Permit. Find out more in Do You Need a Visa to Visit Tonga?

Wedding Packing List

Of course, every couple will have their own packing list to curate the ideal wedding in Tonga. Nevertheless, there are quite a few essential documents to bring to legally wed in Tonga:

  • One passport photo of each party
  • A photocopy of each party’s passport
  • Certified copies of birth certificates for both parties
  • If necessary, death certificate of spouse
  • If divorced, a copy of the Decree Absolute
  • An affidavit of no impediment to get married
  • An affidavit stating parties have no criminal record
  • Joint marriage licence application letter by bride and groom-to-be
  • Affidavit of joint marriage licence applicants stating their plans for marriage and their substantial link with Tonga
  • Original Birth Certificate for each party
  • Passport for each party
  • Letter from Immigration where appropriate (the Immigration Authority Permit)
  • Divorce decree where appropriate
  • Letter from the church Minister (Minister’s Form)
  • Application fees

Check out What are the Marriage Requirements in Tonga? for much more advice.

The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

How Long to Honeymoon in Tonga For

Tonga might make for an idyllic boutique resort getaway to simply relax for a few days  – and that’s fine; we all need to R&R from time to time. Most couples, however, are here to explore and experience some of the most dramatic culture and wildlife experiences in the South Pacific. With that in mind, here’s what you can achieve in certain timeframes… (And don’t worry, we’ll get onto the destinations in the next few sections).

3 Days / A Long Weekend in Tonga

Over a long weekend, you have enough time to see the highlights of Tongatapu. Check out the Tonga Honeymoon Itinerary: 3 Days / Weekend for an example itinerary.

5 Days in Tonga

Start by exploring Tongatapu, then head to one of the outer islands, such as the nearby ‘Eua, for a couple of days. See the Tonga Honeymoon Itinerary: 5 Days for an amazing trip idea.

7 Days / One Week in Tonga

Visit two island groups to experience two sides of Tonga. Flights and ferries connect the main four groups on a regular basis so take your pick! Get some inspiration on what to do and where to go from our Tonga Honeymoon Itinerary: 7 Days / One Week.

14 Days / Two Weeks in Tonga

Adventurous travellers can visit as many as four major island groups of Tonga. See our Tonga Honeymoon Itinerary: 14 Days / Two Weeks for weeks of exciting experiences.

The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

Where to Visit: Honeymoons in Tongatapu

Tongatapu is the main island in Tonga and a great choice for couples travelling on a budget or who are interested in the history and culture of the islands. It’s the home of the nation’s capital, adorned with a royal palace as an ever reminder of the South Pacific’s only sovereignty.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any of the must-dos in Tongatapu, where whale swimming, scuba diving and fishing trips all depart from Faua Wharf on Nuku’alofa’s waterfront.

Tongatapu provides couples with a huge variety of stays, from luxury apartments and quaint lodges in the capital to even a few island resorts scattered off the shores. Head to the western shores of the main island and you’ll find shabby-chic beach houses lining the sandy beaches, as well as more resort options.

Learn more about planning a honeymoon on the main island in The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tongatapu and about staying in the capital in The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Nuku’alofa.

The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

Where to Visit: Honeymoons in ‘Eua

For the active couple, the island of ‘Eua is the ideal place to connect with nature as well as each other. The island is around 40km (23 miles) off the eastern shores of Tongatapu, taking only seven minutes to fly there. While the accommodation on the island isn’t the flashiest, there are attractive timber lodges, such as the ‘Ovava Tree Lodge, which is ideal for the non-fussy couple.

As for the adventures you can have together on this island, they include hiking in the breathtaking ‘Eua National Park with its giant banyan trees, sinkholes and stunning island lookouts. During the whale season, you can swim with humpback whales where ‘Eua has the longest whale season in the country. Scuba diving is also on the menu where Cathedral Cave is the highlight – one of the largest sea caves in the South Pacific.

Learn more about honeymooning on this off-the-beaten-track island in The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to ‘Eua.

The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

Where to Visit: Honeymoons in Ha’apai

If you’re looking for those picture-perfect islands with palm-fringed sandy beaches leading into turquoise waters, then you’ll find them in Ha’apai. This central island group is made up of 62 islands, most of which are uninhabited. With that in mind, there’s plenty of opportunities for couples to get the “private island” experience, whether it’s staying in a beach hut with an entire island all to yourselves or it’s just for the day for a private island picnic.

Aside from the usual Tongan must-dos, like whale swimming, scuba diving and fishing, Ha’apai has the ideal landscapes of lagoons and fringing reefs for watersports. It’s the perfect excuse to double up in a kayak and explore the islands or join a sunset paddleboarding safari.

If you prefer to stay on dry land, then romantic experiences include horseriding on the beach TTD362, rejuvenating in a yoga session, or simply snuggling up together in a hammock.

For more honeymoon talk on Ha’apai, take a look at The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Ha’apai.

The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

Where to Visit: Honeymoons in Vava’u

More dreamy island resorts can be found in the islands of Vava’u, Tonga’s northern island group (excluding The Niuas). Alternatively, couples looking for something a little different could spend their honeymoon sailing the South Pacific’s best sailing grounds on a private charter yacht with all the meals, watersports equipment and, in some instances, even whale swimming included.

Vava’u is an island group best suited for couples with the “go big or go home” mantra, where some of the most famous snorkelling spots and dive sites in Tonga can be found here, from Swallows Cave to the Clan MacWilliam wreck dive. It’s the place where you can find the most whale swimming operators and fishing charters, thanks to its renowned blue marlin fishery. If you’ve got the budget, you can certainly do all of what Tonga is famous for in Vava’u.

For more ideas for planning your Vava’u honeymoon, check out The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Vava’u.

The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

How to Get Around Tonga

Tonga might not have an overwhelming number of island groups but the distance between each is quite substantial with around 180km (110 miles) between Tongatapu and Ha’apai and 130km (80 miles) between Ha’apai and Vava’u. Not to mention,  Tonga’s larger islands are well worth exploring on land. So how do you get around Tonga?

Domestic Flights

To get between island groups, flights operate daily except Sundays. They are the fastest and most comfortable way to get between islands, therefore the most expensive option. Learn more about flying between the island groups in The Guide to Flights in Tonga.

Inter-Island Ferries

Cargo-style boats and fast catamaran passenger ferries travel between Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Ha’apai and Vava’u several times a week. They are cheaper than flying but trips can last several hours. See The Guide to Travelling in Tonga by Ferry to learn much more about this transport method.

Car Rental

Car rental is available in Tongatapu and Vava’u. We have The Guide to Renting a Car in Tonga to give you more rental car advice.

Taxis

Taxis are available in Tongatapu and Vava’u. Ask for the going rate, as many don’t use meters. See The Guide to Taxis in Tonga for more tips.

Bus

Buses are ultra-cheap, providing a local experience to get around Tongatapu and a more limited service on Vava’u. We have a guide for that too, in How to Travel Around Tonga By Bus.

There are a lot more ways to travel around Tonga between resort transfers and guided tours, so be sure to browse our Tonga Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get Around Tonga for more advice.

The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga© Tonga Ministry Of Tourism

Accommodation in Tonga for Couples

It would be an understatement to say that Tonga’s accommodations are intimate (with the exception of one large hotel in Nuku’alofa). Choose from romantic beachfront resorts typically consisting of only two to seven fales (beach houses), while guesthouses provide a cheap and homely experience. Hotels and holiday homes are also options.

Resorts

Typically lining a beach or private island, Tonga’s resorts are small and tranquil. Most have either an à la carte-menu restaurant or a dining room where shared meals are served. Many resorts will offer their own array of free and paid experiences, such as whale swimming, scuba diving, use of watersports equipment and more. Resorts are by no means five stars but range from basic traditionally built fales to well-appointed bungalows. Learn more about what to expect from Tonga’s resorts in How to Pick the Best Honeymoon Resort in Tonga for You. Plus, don’t miss the 10 Best Romantic Resorts in Tonga.

Hotels

Hotels can be found in Tonga’s two largest towns, Nuku’alofa and Neiafu. They range in quality from one international brand hotel to three-star boutique hotels to budget hotels. Check out How to Pick the Best Hotel in Tonga for You for more of an overview or jump straight to our favourites in the 10 Best Hotels in Tongatapu and 5 Best Hotels in Vava’u.

Guesthouses

Available in each island group’s main towns, guesthouses are usually owned by locals providing affordable and authentic Tongan hospitality. Think of them as a B&B; guests have a private room, sometimes with an ensuite, and share communal facilities like a kitchen and bathroom. Find out more about their facilities in How to Pick the Best Guesthouse in Tonga for You, as well as our top picks in the 10 Best Guesthouses in Tonga.

Holiday Homes

For couples seeking their own space and perhaps conveniences like self-catering facilities, choose one of the holiday homes in Tonga. Check out How to Pick the Best Holiday Home in Tonga for You for more details. Plus, be sure to browse the 10 Best Holiday Homes in Tonga.

The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga© Tonga Ministry Of Tourism

Romantic Things to Do in Tonga

Tonga hooks most couples with the prospect of swimming with humpback whales but there’s much more to this island nation. You never know, after browsing our 101 Best Things to Do in Tonga: The Ultimate List you might just realise that there are amazing experiences even outside of the whale season.

In terms of activities perfectly suited to a couples’ getaway, some of the highlights include:

Check out more ideas, as well as have more elaboration in the 10 Romantic Things to Do in Tonga for Couples.

The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga© TongaPocketGuide.com

Dining in Tonga

Tonga’s restaurants can be found in Nuku’alofa and Neiafu, as well as some of its resorts. They typically have international influences, such as Italian, American, British, Chinese and more, as well as local Tongan dishes. Check out our top dining picks in The Guide to the Best Eats & Restaurants in Tonga.

Tongan food can be sampled at Tongan restaurants in Nuku’alofa, at cultural shows and buffets on Tongatapu, on cultural tours in Ha’apai, and at Sunday umu feasts in ‘Eua and Vava’u. Check out which meals to look out for in the 6 Unique Foods in Tonga You Have to Try.

Self-catering is often an option at some accommodations, where travellers can pick up food from small supermarkets, fale koloa (convenience stores), and produce markets. Get advice on self-catering in our guide on Where to Buy Food in Tonga.

Want to know more about dining in Tonga? Head to The Guide to the Food in Tonga.

The Wedding & Honeymoon Guide to Tonga© Tonga Ministry Of Tourism

Typical Costs and Travel Budget

We all travel very differently. Therefore, making a precise budget for everyone is, quite frankly, an impossible task. Nevertheless, you can work out your own needs, thus budget, by simply looking at the typical prices listed below or in our article, Tonga Travel Budget: How Much Does a Trip to Tonga Cost?

The Cost of Accommodation

  • Guesthouse double room/night – TOP$60-$90
  • Guesthouse double ensuite/night – TOP$100-$120
  • Hotel double ensuite/night – TOP$200-$350
  • Mid-range resort fale (bungalow)/night – TOP$280-$400

Get more accommodation prices in What is the Cost of Accommodation in Tonga?

The Cost of Food

  • Main breakfast meal – TOP$10-$20
  • Main lunch meal – TOP$14-$30
  • Main dinner meal – TOP$20-$40
  • Pint of beer – TOP$8-$10
  • Small coffee – TOP$5
  • Cocktail – TOP$13-$19
  • Non-alcoholic drink – TOP$5

Grocery prices for self-catering can be found in What is the Cost of Food in Tonga?

The Cost of Tours and Activities

  • Guided land sightseeing tour – TOP$75-$100
  • Guided hike – TOP$70
  • Culture tour/3 hours – TOP$75
  • Botanical gardens tour – TOP$35-$50
  • Cultural show & buffet – TOP$35-$55
  • ‘Anahulu Cave entry – TOP$15
  • Massage/60 minutes – TOP$90-$235
  • Whale swimming tour – TOP$350-$690
  • Scuba diving/two-tank – TOP$300 -$420
  • Game fishing/half-day – TOP$455-$600
  • Guided boat sightseeing/snorkel tour – TOP$120-$355
  • Kayak hire/day – TOP$0-$140
  • Snorkel hire/day – TOP$0-$25
  • Sailing charter 2 guests/night – TOP$200-$690

Get more examples of activity prices, as well as free activities, in our guide, What is the Cost of Activities in Tonga?

The Cost of Transport

  • Bicycle rental/day – TOP$0-$30
  • Scooter rental/day – TOP$50
  • Car rental/day – TOP$40-$150
  • Public bus/trip – TOP$0.70-$3
  • Taxi/30 minutes – TOP$30-$50
  • Accommodation/airport transfers – TOP$4-$60
  • Ferry/Tongatapu to Vava’u – TOP$80-$150
  • Island resort airport transfer – TOP$60-$230
  • Flight/Tongatapu to Vava’u – TOP$350

Get transport prices for more routes in our guide, What is the Cost of Transport in Tonga? And again, check out our guide, Tonga Travel Budget: How Much Does a Trip to Tonga Cost? for more budget tips and costs.

Author

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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