Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 14 Days / 2 Weeks©
Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 14 Days / 2 Weeks

Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 14 Days / 2 Weeks


14-Day Budget and Backpacking Itinerary for Tonga

Two weeks in Tonga is just enough time to see just about every island group (except the far-flung Niuas) in Tonga! Thanks to the budget accommodations 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 by the places to go, things to do and where to stay in this Tonga budget and backpacking itinerary for 14 days!

While you’re here, don’t forget to open The Backpacking & Budget Travel Guide to Tonga; your bible to planning a trip to Tonga on the cheap!

Overview: Tonga Budget and Backpacking Two-Week (14-Day) Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Arrival in Tonga
  • Day 2 – Explore Tongatapu
  • Day 3 – Tongatapu to Vava’u
  • Days 4 & 5 – Explore Vava’u
  • Day 6 – Vava’u to Ha’apai
  • Days 7 & 8 – Explore Ha’apai
  • Day 9 – Ha’apai to Nuku’alofa
  • Day 10 – Nuku’alofa to ‘Eua
  • Days 11 & 12 – Explore ‘Eua
  • Day 13 – ‘Eua to Nuku’alofa
  • Day 14 – Departure Day.

Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 14 Days / 2 Weeks©

How to Get Around Tonga in Two Weeks

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

Road Transport in Tonga

Upon arrival to each island group in Tonga, accommodations typically offer airport transfers or car rental companies can deliver vehicles to the airport. Tongatapu and Vava’u also have taxis, which can work out to be the cheapest option for multiple travellers. Check out The Cheapest Airport Transfers in Tonga for more on the subject.

For travelling on each of the islands, car hire offers the most flexibility and convenience yet is reasonably priced in Tonga. Get advice on car hire from What You Need to Hire a Car in Tonga. Alternatively, this itinerary is doable with a mix of taxis (see The Complete Guide to Taxis in Tonga), as well as taking guided tours such as the 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in Tonga. Ha’apai has fewer of these transport methods, so you will need to mostly rely on your accommodation for transport.

Overwater Transport in Tonga

In this itinerary, we mostly recommend taking domestic flights between the island groups, which is the fastest and most convenient for most travellers – see Domestic Flights in Tonga: A Guide to Interisland Flights. To save a few hundred pa’anga, as well as get the experience, we suggest the ferry when crossing between Vava’u and Ha’apai and between Tongatapu and ‘Eua, if available for your travel dates – see Tonga Ferry Guide: How to Use Ferries for Interisland Travel. Ferries are still a viable option in this itinerary between Ha’apai and Tongatapu if you prefer. Note, however, that no flights or ferries operate on a Sunday and both transport services are prone to cancellations due to bad weather; that’s why this itinerary allows for extra days at each destination, as well as leaves a day between domestic and international flights.

For getting to island resorts, of which there are some budget resorts, these accommodations offer their own boat transfers, which need to be arranged before arrival. Otherwise, check out A Guide to Boat Transfers & Water Taxis in Tonga for alternatives.

For all of your transport options across the islands, check out our Tonga Transport Guide: 15 Best Ways to Get Around Tonga.

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days(c)

Day 1 – Arrival in Tonga

Travel time: 30 mins airport transfer.

Mālō e leilei and welcome to Tonga! After going through the arrival procedures at Fua’amotu International Airport, get an airport transfer to your first destination on this budget itinerary; Nuku’alofa!

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 Accommodations in Nuku’alofa.

Dining Recommendations

Pick up some fresh local ingredients from the Talamahu Market and spruce up something at your self-catering accommodation. Otherwise, try authentic Tongan cuisine like lu and ‘ota ika at Mum’s Cafe (Cnr Fatafehi and Laifone Road). If you’re not feeling quite that adventurous, Three Men’s Fastfood (Taufau’ahau Village) have affordable burgers/paninis, and pizzas at their Vuna Road Bus Station branch.

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days(c)

Day 2 – Explore Tongatapu

Travel time: 1-3 hours drive for sightseeing (see The Driving Times & Distances in Tonga).

You only need a day to explore the sights of Tongatapu! Luckily, most of them are free to visit and only a small selection have a small fee. You could hire a car to see the sights following A Self-Guided Day Trip of Tongatapu or you may find it’s less hassle to jump on an island tour for a few more pa’anga (it’s usually cheaper if you can get a group of you together, though). Check out island tours in The 5 Best Guided Tours of Tongatapu.

Free/Cheap Things to Do on 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 Navutoka
  • Take a look at the Three-Headed Coconut Tree
  • See the amazing displays of the Mapu ‘a Vaea Blowholes
  • See the unbelievable Tsunami Rock

… And there’s a lot more where that came from! For more details on each activity, see the 20 Free & Cheap Things To Do on Tongatapu.

Dining Recommendations

While out sightseeing, stop by Ofeina Restaurant (Veitongo) which serves up Tongan dishes like lu sipisipi soyanaketi moakelevi ika and more for an ultra-cheap price! If you want to “treat yourself”, Garden Cafe (Vaini) is also highly recommended.

Back in Nuku’alofa, dine on delicious curry and dahl at Chand’s Curry House (Taufa’ahau Road) or get your Mexican fix from Inglewood LA Snacks (Wellington Road). See The Top Cheap Eats in Tonga to see more options.

Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 14 Days / 2 Weeks©

Day 3 – Tongatapu to Vava’u

Travel time: 30 mins airport transfer/5 mins wharf transfer + 1 hr flight/16-23 hrs ferry + 15 mins Vava’u airport transfer/5 mins wharf transfer (see Tonga Travel Times & Distances).

Start exploring the rest of Tonga! We recommend heading to the northern island group of Vava’u by plane and then making your way back down through the other island groups by ferry later into your trip, but you do you! Whatever you decide, you’ll then arrive in the hub of Vava’u, Neiafu! There are many affordable guesthouses in the town, as well as a small selection of budget island resorts just offshore.

Budget Accommodation in Vava’u

  • Flying Annie Moa
  • Beautiful Ofu Island Backpackers
  • Port Wine Guest House
  • Makafeke Resort
  • Oceanside Lodge

Learn more about our top picks in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Vava’u and 5 Best Budget Resorts in Tonga.

Dining Recommendations

It’s pretty easy to self-cater in Neiafu if staying in self-catering accommodation. Otherwise, MJ Seafood (Halavalu Wharf) offers a classic Tongan experience of kelevi ikakale ikafeke and ‘ota ika for a reasonable price. They also do fish and chips. Learn more about them in the 15 Best Cafes & Restaurants in Vava’u.

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days(c)

Days 4 & 5 – Explore Vava’u

Travel time: 2 hrs while sightseeing (see The Driving Times & Distances in Tonga).

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 Neiafu Market and climb to the top of Mt Talau 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
  • Discover historical sites like Pouono Park and Kilikilitefua Wall
  • Attend a Sunday church service
  • 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.

Dining Recommendations

For lunch or dinner, Falaleu Deli (Fatafehi Road) might be popular for its pizzas but their nachos, loaded fries and wraps are delish and much more affordable. See more dining options nearby in The Food Guide to Vava’u.

Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 14 Days / 2 Weeks©

Day 6 – Vava’u to Ha’apai

Travel time: 5 mins wharf transfer/15 mins airport transfer + 8-9 hours ferry/2 hrs flight (via Tongatapu) + 5 mins – 1 hr wharf/airport transfer in Ha’apai.

Ferries depart from the Halaevalu Wharf in Neiafu, where it’s approximately 8-9 hours sailing, making it an experience in itself (alternatively, take a flight back to Tongatapu to make a connection to Ha’apai)!

You’ll arrive at Taufa’ahau Wharf in Pangai, the main town of the Ha’apai Group, located on the island of Lifuka. With no public transport, it’s best to organise a transfer to your chosen resort/guesthouse with your accommodation. Ha’apai has several guesthouses around Pangai, as well as budget fales on Lifuka and Uoleva islands.

Budget Accommodation in Ha’apai

  • Diana Beach Resort
  • Lindsay Guesthouse
  • Evaloni Guesthouse
  • Fifita Guesthouse
  • Ha’apai Beach Resort

Learn more about each accommodation in the 5 Best Budget Accommodations in Ha’apai.

Dining Recommendations

Although limited, the local eateries in the island group of Ha’apai are well-priced! Lucky Pot Restaurant (Pangai Market) offers incredibly affordable curry, fried chicken combos, fish in gravy and pele sipi all for under TOP$15.

Some accommodations offer homemade Tongan meals to guests for a reasonable price, such as Diana Beach Resort and Lindsay Guesthouse.

For self-catering, pick up supplies in Pangai and make use of the 5 Best Self-Catering Accommodations in Ha’apai.

Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 14 Days / 2 Weeks©

Days 7 & 8 – Ha’apai

Travel time: 35 mins while sightseeing (see The Driving Times & Distances in Tonga).

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 at 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 free with some accommodations.

Otherwise, you might want to treat yourself to some of the best whale swimming tours in Tonga or even join a snorkelling tour among crystal clear waters. Don’t worry, you’ll hardly run out of things to do when you see the 50 Best Things to Do in Ha’apai!

Free/Cheap Things to Do in Ha’apai

  • Explore the islands by kayak
  • Hire a bicycle and ride to Houmale’eia Beach
  • Check out Hihifo’s archaeological sites
  • Get amazing views and visit a tomb at Hulu’ i Paongo Point
  • Browse the Pangai Market
  • Go snorkelling straight off the beach
  • Watch humpback whales from shore (July-October)
  • See the Shirley Baker Monument.

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

Dining Recommendations

Leleno ki Moana (Hihifo) is a beachfront restaurant with huge yet lovingly presented meals at incredible prices. Make sure to visit at least once for their fish burgers, aromatic curries and beasty burgers! Learn more about the restaurant in the 5 Best Restaurants in Ha’apai.

Tonga Budget Itinerary: 14 Days(c)

Day 9 – Ha’apai to Nuku’alofa

Travel time: 20 mins – 1 hr airport/wharf transfer + 50 mins flight/13-14 hrs ferry + 15-20 mins airport transfer/30 mins wharf transfer.

It’s time to head back to the “mainland” so catch your ferry in Pangai for a likely overnight crossing to Taufa’ahau Tupou IV Wharf in Nuku’alofa. If you loved your accommodation during your first days in Tonga, check back in! Otherwise, a reminder of the accommodations to choose from if you’re on a budget can be found in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Nuku’alofa.

Dining Recommendations

You know the drill; self-catering is the cheapest way to keep fuelled! Otherwise, the popular open-air Billfish Bar and Restaurant (Vuna Road) is not too far from the wharf and offers good-value food, serving hearty burgers, curry and cheap bar snacks, even with some burgers under TOP$15. See

Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 14 Days / 2 Weeks©

Day 10 – Nuku’alofa to ‘Eua

Travel time: 5 mins wharf transfer + 2 hrs ferry + 5-10 mins wharf transfer.

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. Otherwise, rental vehicles can be delivered to the wharf. Luckily, all of the accommodation on ‘Eua is budget accommodation!

Budget Accommodation in ‘Eua

  • ‘Alakoka Tahi Moana Guest House
  • Highlight Guesthouse
  • Falakiko Guesthouse
  • Talei’s Guesthouse
  • Seta’s Guesthouse

Learn more about the budget stays in the 5 Best Budget Accommodations in ‘Eua.

Dining Recommendations

With very few options for eating out on ‘Eua, your best bet is to self-cater. Alternatively, ‘Alakoka Tahi Moana Guesthouse (Angaha) even serves meals to non-guests as long as you put in your order early (usually before 1 pm). For more ideas, head to The Complete Travel Guide to ‘Eua which lists restaurants.

Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 14 Days / 2 Weeks©

Days 11 & 12 – Explore ‘Eua

Travel time: 30-40 mins while sightseeing (see The Driving Times & Distances in Tonga).

The island of ‘Eua is somewhere to embrace nature. 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 good value per person should you not feel like walking to the natural land bridges, rock gardens, giant banyan trees, impressive sinkholes and more.

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. See some more “treat yourself” experiences in the 50 Best Things to Do on ‘Eua.

Free/Cheap Things to Do in ‘Eua

  • Go on a self-guided hike through the ‘Eua National Park or Lakufa’anga Rock Gardens
  • Cool off at Hafu Pool and check out Big ‘Ovava Tree #1
  • Marvel at the Lianga Huo ‘a Maui Landbridge
  • Check out the Big ‘Ovava Tree #2
  • See all the natural attractions in a 4WD land tour
  • Look out for the red shining parrot
  • Spot whales from the shore
  • Go to a Sunday church service
  • Experience a faikava; drinking kava with the locals

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

Dining Recommendations

For when you can’t be bothered to cook, Talei’s Restaurant (Angaha) serves all your comfort classics, from ika kelevi (fish in sauce) to fish/sausage/chicken and chips/manioke, and all for a very very affordable price.

Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 14 Days / 2 Weeks©

Day 13 – ‘Eua to Nuku’alofa

Travel time: 5-10 mins wharf transfer + 2 hrs ferry + 5 mins wharf transfer.

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 will likely have time to do one or two of the below experiences in Nuku’alofa if you haven’t done so already:

Free/Cheap Things to Do in Nuku’alofa

  • Snap a pic of the Royal Palace
  • Check out the Royal Tombs
  • See amazing arts and crafts at the Talamahu Market
  • Discover ancient history at the Tonga National Museum
  • Browse the Langafonua Handicrafts Centre
  • Learn about the Tongan culture at Ancient Tonga or Tina’s Workshop
  • See the sights by bike
  • Have a picnic at Popua Park.

Learn more about each activity in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Nuku’alofa.

Dining (& Drinking) Recommendations

You can spend your final evening toasting to an amazing two weeks spent in Tonga at Nauti Ruby’s (Vuna Road), Rehab (Taufa’ahau Road) or one of the other 5 Best Bars in Nuku’alofa. You might even be able to catch a cultural show and Tongan buffet at one of Tongatapu’s resorts. Or simply hang out with your fellow travellers at the backpackers or guesthouse.

Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 14 Days / 2 Weeks©

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

Travel time: 30 mins airport transfer.

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 20 Best Restaurants in Nuku’alofa. Trust us, it will be better than eating at the airport cafe.

Remember to arrive at the airport a couple of hours before your scheduled departure so that you have enough time to check in, go through security and browse the small selection of retail offerings. For anything else you need to know about leaving Tonga, it’s all listed in our guide, Leaving Tonga: Departure Tips & Checklist.

And it’s “Nofo ā” (goodbye) to Tonga!

Alternative Tonga Two-Week Itineraries

Is this 14-day budget and backpacking itinerary for Tonga not quite speaking to you? How about checking out our alternative itineraries for 14 days/two weeks:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed from this Tonga budget and backpacking itinerary, you’re likely to find it in The Backpacking & Budget Travel Guide to Tonga.


Laura (Lola) 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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