14-Day Budget Itinerary for Tonga

Two weeks in Tonga is just enough time to see just about every island group (except the farflung Niuas) in Tonga! Thanks to the budget accommodation and some of the free and cheap activities available, making your Pa’anga stretch further is relatively easy in Tonga. Transportation can even be reasonably affordable if you choose to take the ferries between the islands, rather than flights. Be inspired for the places to go, things to do and where to stay in this Tonga budget itinerary for 14 days!

For more ways to experience Tonga in two weeks with less moving around, take a look at How to Spend 14 Days in Tonga on a Budget TI048.

How to Get Around Tonga in 14 Days

The itinerary below involves both transport over land and over water. While we include some travel tips in the itinerary below, here’s a quick overview on how to get around Tonga on a budget.

Road Transport in Tonga

The main islands in Tongatapu and Vava’u have roads with public transport to get around, whether it’s public buses, taxis, accommodation transfers, guided tours or car rentals. Although ‘Eua and Ha’apai do have some roads, there’s no public transport so you’ll either need to hire a bicycle or rely on your accommodation provider to get around.

Overwater Transport in Tonga

Flights are the fastest way to get between the island groups of Tonga. However, ferry travel is much cheaper at the expense of time. The MV ‘Otuanga’ofa is the cheapest ferry where fares can be as little as TOP$80 to get between Tongatapu and Vava’u. However, the crossing can be up to a whopping 24 hours! It’s worth spending a little more to take the fast catamaran, the MV Tongiaki, to get between Tongatapu, Ha’apai and Vava’u. Ferries to ‘Eua and considerably cheaper and only take 1-2 hours.

Learn more about transport in each of the destinations mentioned in the following guides:

Day 1 – Fua’amotu Airport to Nuku’alofa

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days

(c) tongapocketguide.com

Travel time: 30 minutes

Organise for your accommodation in Nuku’alofa to transfer you from Fua’amotu Airport to Nuku’alofa, which is often much cheaper than a taxi. You might have time to do a bit of city exploration on the first day, seeing the Royal Palace and browsing the Talamahu Market. Otherwise, scout out the cheap eats in Nuku’alofa for some real Tongan cuisine!

Budget Accommodation in Nuku’alofa

Check out our top recommendations in the 10 Best Budget Accommodation in Nuku’alofa.

Day 2 – Explore Tongatapu

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days

(c) tongapocketguide.com

Travel time: it takes approximately 6 hours to see all of the major sights around Tongatapu.

You only need a day to explore the sights of Tongatapu! Luckily, most of them are free to visit and only a small selection are a small fee. You could hire a car to see the sights, but after the day rate and the Visitor Driver’s License, you’ll probably find it’s less hassle to jump on an island tour for around the same price. Check out island tours in The Best Guided Tours of Tongatapu.

Free/Cheap Things to Do in Tongatapu

  • Check out the Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon
  • Explore and swim in ‘Anahulu Cave
  • Get awesome views from the Hufangalpue Landbridge and Lookout
  • Watch the flying foxes in Kolovai
  • Go beach-hopping around Tongatapu
  • Watch the fishing pigs in Mu’a
  • Take a look at the three-headed coconut tree
  • See the amazing displays of the Mapu ‘a Vaea Blowholes
  • Find all of the historic landing sites
  • See the unbelievable Tsunami Rock

For more details on each activity, see the 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do on Tongatapu.

Day 3 – Nuku’alofa to Vava’u

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days

(c) tongapocketguide.com

Travel time: 9 hours/10-24 hours on the MV Tongiaki/MV ‘Otuanga’ofa

Start exploring the rest of Tonga, starting with an adventurous ferry crossing to Vava’u! The journey will be approximately 9 hours on the fast catamaran ferry or somewhere between 10-24 hours on the slower cargo ship! Either way, you’ll be stopping off at a few of the Ha’apai islands on your way up north. You’ll then arrive in the second-largest town in Tonga, Neiafu of Vava’u! There are many affordable guest houses in the town, as well as a small selection of budget island resorts.

Budget Accommodation in Vava’u

  • Port of Refuge Villas
  • Flying Annie Moa Bed & Breakfast
  • Beautiful Ofu Island Backpackers
  • Port Wine Guest House
  • Hilltop Hotel
  • K & S Guest House
  • Pineapple Bungalows
  • Basque Tavern
  • Twin View Motel
  • Lucky’s Beach Houses
  • Mafana Beach Resort
  • Tapana Island Resort

Learn more about our top picks in the 10 Best Budget Accommodation in Vava’u.

Day 4 – Vava’u

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days

(c) tongapocketguide.com

Whether you have chosen to stay in Neiafu or escape from it all on an outer island, there’s something to do in Vava’u that won’t use up all of your savings. Check out the market and climb to the top of Mt Talau in Neiafu or make use of your resort’s complimentary kayak hire or don your snorkel mask to get among the fish. Even if it’s a Sunday, you’ll still be able to listen to the singing in a church service or head to a Tongan Sunday feast.

Free/Cheap Things to Do in Vava’u

  • Check out the views from Mt Talau
  • Browse the produce and handicrafts at the Neiafu Market
  • Do a garden tour at the ‘Ene’io Botanical Gardens
  • Attend a Sunday church service
  • Do a tour of the Vava’u Pearl Centre
  • Join a land tour to see the sights around Vava’u
  • Have a peek into Veimumuni Cave
  • Do some kayaking from your resort
  • Admire the views from the ‘Utula’aina Lookout
  • Get in some beach time

For more information on each activity, see the 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do in Vava’u.

Day 5 – Vava’u

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days

(c) tongapocketguide.com

For your final full day in Vava’u, you could catch up on some free/cheap things you haven’t done from the list above or splurge a little on one of Vava’u’s more special experiences. It could be swimming with majestic Humpback Whale (July-October) or taking a boat trip out to the astounding Swallows’ Cave, a snorkelling hotspot with huge schools of fish.

For more ideas of how to spend your time in Vava’u, take a look at the 10 Must-Dos in Vava’u.

Day 6 – Vava’u to Ha’apai

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days

(c) tongapocketguide.com

Travel time: 3h30mins/7 hours on the MV Tongiaki/MV ‘Otuanga’ofa

Ferries depart from the Halaevalu Wharf in Neiafu, where it’s an approximately 3h30min/7 hours sailing depending on which ferry you take. You’ll arrive at Taufa’ahau Wharf in Pangai, the main town of the Ha’apai Group, located on the island of Lifuka. With very limited public transport, it’s best to organise a transfer to your chosen accommodation with your accommodation. Ha’apai has several guest houses around Pangai, as well as budget fales (beach huts) scattered around Lifuka and Uolevu islands.

Budget Accommodation in Ha’apai

  • Taiana’s Resort
  • Fifita Guesthouse
  • Lindsay Guesthouse
  • Evaloni Guesthouse
  • Fonongava’inga (Langi Langi) Guesthouse
  • Captain Cook Hideaway
  • Billy’s Place

Learn more about each accommodation in the 7 Best Budget Accommodation in Ha’apai.

Day 7 – Ha’apai

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days

(c) tongapocketguide.com

Ha’apai is your idyllic South Seas destination where you can’t help but want to relax, soak in the sun and lazy in a hammock. However, if you are feeling active, there are certainly plenty of ways to spend your time with no costs (or very limited costs). Resorts have an array of free activities for guests or you could do a bit of sightseeing by hiring a bike, which is either free with some accommodations or around TOP$15 a day if you get one from the Mariner’s Cafe.

Free/Cheap Things to Do in Ha’apai

  • Explore the islands by kayak
  • Learn how to make Tongan handicrafts
  • Hire a bicycle and ride to Homale’eia Beach
  • Check out Hihifo’s archaeological sites
  • Get amazing views and visit a tomb at the southern tip of Lifuka
  • Browse the Pangai Market
  • Go snorkelling straight off the beach
  • Watch Humpback Whales from shore (July-October)
  • See the Shirley Baker Monument
  • Have a bite to eat at the Mariner’s Cafe

Get more details on each activity in the 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do in Ha’apai.

Day 8 – Ha’apai

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days

(c) tongapocketguide.com

It’s your final full day in the paradise of Ha’apai, so if you haven’t managed to do everything mentioned so far, now’s your chance! Otherwise, you might want to treat yourself to some of the best whale swimming tours in Tonga or even try scuba diving among crystal clear waters. Don’t worry, you’ll hardly run out of things to do when you add these 10 Must-Dos in Ha’apai to the bucket list!

Day 9 – Ha’apai to Nuku’alofa

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days

(c) tongapocketguide.com

Travel time: 5h30mins/8 hours on the MV Tongiaki/MV ‘Otuanga’ofa

It’s time to head back to the “mainland” so catch your ferry in Pangai for a 5h30mins/8-hour crossing to the Queen Salote Wharf in Nuku’alofa. If you loved your accommodation during your first days in Tonga, check back in! Otherwise, here’s a reminder of the accommodations to choose from if you’re on a budget.

Budget Accommodation in Nuku’alofa

Get the details in the 10 Best Budget Accommodation in Nuku’alofa.

Day 10 – Nuku’alofa to ‘Eua

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days

(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

Travel time: 1 hour to 2h30mins ferry

You’ll definitely have the stomach of a sailor once you take the ferry to the backpacker’s island paradise of ‘Eua! The crossing is the shortest so far and the cheapest. You’ll arrive at Nafanua Wharf where it’s best to have arranged for your accommodation to pick you up as there is no public transport on the island. Luckily, all of the accommodation on ‘Eua is budget accommodation!

Budget Accommodation in ‘Eua

  • Ovava Tree Lodge
  • The Hideaway
  • Taina’s Place
  • The Deep Resort
  • Seta Homestay
  • ‘Alakoka Tahi Moana Guest House

Learn more about the budget stays in the 6 Best Budget Accommodation in ‘Eua.

Day 11 – ‘Eua

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days

(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

The island of ‘Eua is somewhere to embrace nature with hiking, cycling, bird watching, watching whales from shore, trying a Tongan “umu” feast and looking out for wild horses are all inexpensive ways to enjoy this island. Even the 4WD land tours are well under TOP$100 should you not feel like walking to the natural land bridges, rock gardens, giant banyan trees, impressive sinkholes and more.

Free/Cheap Things to Do in ‘Eua

  • Go on a self-guided hike to the Forest Plantation or Rock Gardens
  • Do a guided hike through the ‘Eua National Park or Fangatave Caves
  • See all the natural attractions in a 4WD land tour
  • Do some horse trekking on the beach
  • Look out for the red shining parrot!
  • Spot whales from the shore
  • Learn Tongan arts, crafts and dancing
  • Go to a Sunday church service
  • Go to the weekend disco!
  • Experience an umu feast

Find out more about each activity in the 10 Free & Cheap Things To Do in & Eua.

Day 12 – ‘Eua

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days

(c) tongapocketguide.com

And once again, you have more time on this trusty 14-day itinerary to do the things you might have missed yesterday. That usually means more day hikes among stunning tropical scenery! Otherwise, ‘Eua is your final chance to do some whale swimming if it’s the season or you might want to do some fishing with the locals. Keen scuba divers should definitely dive into Cathedral Caves, the largest sea cave in the South Pacific!

Get more inspiration for things to do with our 10 Must-Dos in ‘Eua.

Day 13 – ‘Eua to Nuku’alofa

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days

(c) Teta Tours Tonga

Travel time: 1 hour to 2h30mins ferry

Ah, you’re going to miss these ferry crossings, aren’t you? Get your accommodation provider to drop you off at the wharf where it’s time to head back to Nuku’alofa for the last time.

You can spend your final evening toasting to an amazing two weeks spent in Tonga at one of the bars in Nuku’alofa. You might even be able to catch a cultural show and Tongan buffet around the island. Or simply hang out with your fellow travellers at the backpackers or guest house.

Day 14 – Nuku’alofa to Fua’amotu International Airport

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days

(c) tongapocketguide.com

Travel time: 30 minutes

Taxis and accommodation transfers are available to transport you from Nuku’alofa to Fua’amotu International Airport. Have a bite to eat in the city before making your way to the airport, using the recommendations in our Guide to the Best Eats & Restaurants in Nuku’alofa. Trust us, it will be better than eating at the airport cafe. And that’s our final trusty tip for you!

Nofo a (goodbye) from Tonga!

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Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days