Tonga Budget Itinerary: 5 Days(c)
Tonga Budget Itinerary: 5 Days

Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 5 Days


5-Day Budget and Backpacking Itinerary for Tonga

If you’re lucky enough to be going to Tonga but unlucky enough to only have five days in the islands, then don’t worry! You can still see some of the main attractions of Tonga, as well as do some island-hopping, in five days. We’ll show you the way with this Tonga budget itinerary for five days, where the two recommended islands to visit are Tongatapu and ‘Eua. Tongatapu is the main island of Tonga, home to some amazing natural attractions, the royal family and, of course, whale swimming. ‘Eua also has whale swimming but is Tonga’s oldest island and a natural paradise with the ‘Eua National Park. As you browse through this five-day budget and backpacking itinerary for Tonga, you’ll see exactly why these islands are ideal for budget travellers!

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 5-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Arrival in Tonga + Fly/Sail to ‘Eua
  • Day 2 – Explore ‘Eua
  • Day 3 – ‘Eua to Nuku’alofa
  • Day 4 – Explore Tongatapu
  • Day 5 – Explore Nuku’alofa + Departure.

Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 5 Days©

How to Get Around Tonga in Five Days

Yes, even in five days you can do a bit of island-hopping in Tonga. This means that you’ll be travelling both over land and water. While we go through a few transport tips in the itinerary, here’s a quick overview of how to get around Tonga on a budget.

Road Transport in Tonga

Upon arrival to Tongatapu and ‘Eua, accommodations typically offer airport transfers or car rental companies can deliver vehicles to the airport. Tongatapu also has 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 on Tongatapu with some taxis in the mix (see The Complete Guide to Taxis in Tonga), while taking guided tours such as the 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in Tonga are available on both Tongatapu and ‘Eua.

Overwater Transport in Tonga

In this itinerary, you can either fly or take the ferry to ‘Eua but we recommend at least flying to ‘Eua if your international flight allows for a convenient connection – see Domestic Flights in Tonga: A Guide to Interisland Flights. To save a few pa’anga, as well as get the experience, we suggest the ferry at least when returning to Tongatapu – see Tonga Ferry Guide: How to Use Ferries for Interisland Travel. 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 all of your transport options across the islands, check out our Tonga Transport Guide: 15 Best Ways to Get Around Tonga.

Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 5 Days©

Day 1 – Arrival in Tonga + Fly/Sail to ‘Eua

Travel time: 5 mins terminal transfer/30 mins wharf transfer + 10 mins flight/2 hrs ferry + 5-10 mins ‘Eua airport/wharf transfer (see Tonga Travel Times & Distances).

Mālō e leilei and welcome to Tonga! After going through the arrival procedures at Fua’amotu International Airport, either take a taxi to the domestic terminal for an effortless journey to ‘Eua or take a transfer to Nuku’alofa where you’ll catch a ferry.

You’ll arrive at Nafanua Wharf or ‘Eua Kaufana Airport 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/airport. Luckily, all of the accommodation on ‘Eua is budget!

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: 5 Days©

Day 2 – 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 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: 5 Days©

Day 3 – ‘Eua to Nuku’alofa

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

Get your accommodation provider to drop you off at the wharf where it’s time to head to the capital, Nuku’alofa. You will likely have time to do one or two of the below experiences in Nuku’alofa. Otherwise, you’ll also have some time to explore these activities and attractions on your last day.

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 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. We have more suggestions in The Top Cheap Eats in Nuku’alofa & Tongatapu.

Tonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 5 Days©

Day 4 – 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 Itinerary: 5 Days(c)

Day 5 – Explore Nuku’alofa + Departure Day

Travel time: 30 mins airport transfer.

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. Plus, if there was anything you missed from the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Nuku’alofa, you’ll likely have some time today!

Taxis and accommodation transfers are available to transport you from Nuku’alofa to Fua’amotu International Airport.

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 Five-Day Itineraries

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

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.


Robin (Lopini) C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before settling in the South Pacific, so he knows a thing or two about planning the perfect trip in this corner of the world. Robin works and consults regularly with the Ministry of Tourism of Tonga. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides and is a regular host of webinars with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.

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