What is the Weather Like in Tonga in January?
Planning on exploring the islands of Tonga during January? You would be one of very few who choose to visit Tonga during this time, which is ideal for savvy travellers looking to get the best travel deals and experience the islands all to themselves! Temperatures are hot and humid, making it all the more refreshing when taking part in Tonga’s water activities. What deters many travellers, however, is the label of the “wet season”, with a higher chance of rainfall and a slight risk of cyclones. But knowing that rain can occur at any time of the year in Tonga, you might just think that January is just another month to visit the islands… Find out more about the Tonga weather in January below!
Before we jump into this weather guide for January, be sure to bookmark Tonga Weather by Month: What is the Weather Like in Tonga? for more advice.
5 Tips for Travelling Tonga in January
- Due to the high UV levels during January, make sure you wear high-factor (and reef-safe) sunscreen
- Pack insect repellent! Mosquitoes are more active during the wet season. Check out 10 Ways to Avoid Mosquito Bites in Tonga for tips
- While January is hot and humid, remember that there are plenty of ways to cool down, thanks to Tonga’s array of water sports, oceans and some resorts having swimming pools
- January is the low season in Tonga, so don’t worry about booking accommodation too far in advance. However, be sure to check which activities are available during the low season to avoid disappointment
- Allow extra time to travel between islands, as flights often get cancelled due to bad weather.
Typical Temperatures in January
In Tonga’s “summer season”, January is one of the warmest months in Tonga. Temperatures reach 30°C / 86°F at a maximum, while the lowest temperatures are around 23°C / 74°F – usually at night. January also experiences high humidity.
Temperatures Across Tonga
- Tongatapu & Nuku’alofa – The average maximum temperature is 29°C / 85°F and the minimum average temperature is 23°C / 74°F
- Vava’u – The average maximum temperature is 30°C / 86°F and the minimum average temperature is 23°C / 73°F
- Ha’apai – The average maximum temperature is 30°C / 86°F and the minimum average temperature is 24°C / 75°F
- ‘Eua – The average maximum temperature is 29°C / 85°F and the minimum average temperature is 23°C / 74°F
- The Niuas – The average maximum temperature is 30°C / 86°F and the minimum average temperature is 24°C / 75°F
Sea Temperature in January
Tonga experiences warm waters year-round. However, January is one of the months when sea temperatures in Tonga are at their highest. Sea temperatures are at an average of 28°C / 82°F in January.
Hours of Sun in January
Many travellers visiting Tonga want to see some sun! January would be a good time for soaking up the sun with an average of 6 hours of bright sunshine each day. Plus, Tonga experiences some of its longest days with daylight hours being an average of 13 hours.
UV Levels During January
Wearing sunscreen is recommended all year round in Tonga, but especially in January when the maximum UV levels are at an extreme around midday! UV levels are 12+ UV index at midday. For advice on what sunscreen to wear, see our 10 Best Environmentally-Friendly Sunscreens for Tonga.
Sunrise and Sunset During January
January has daylight hours lasting about 13 hours a day in Tonga.
- Sunrise: 6.02am at the beginning of January and 6.22am at the end of January
- Sunset: 7.28pm at the beginning of January and 7.26pm at the end of January
Rainfall in January
January is a month of the “wet season” in Tonga. However, January usually experiences a bit less rainfall than in February and March, but double what is usually experienced in the dry season. Tropical rainfall patterns are usually swift, followed by sunshine. Note that travel schedules, especially between Tonga’s islands, can change due to bad weather, so allow yourself extra travel time during this month.
Tonga receives an average of 174mm / 6.9″ of rainfall in the month of January, with around 17 days out of January experiencing rain.
Average Rainfall Across Tonga
- Tongatapu & Nuku’alofa – The average rainfall in January is 174mm / 6.9″
- Vava’u – The average rainfall in January is 165mm / 6.5″
- Ha’apai – The average rainfall in January is 165mm / 6.5″
- ‘Eua – The average rainfall in January is 174mm / 6.9″
- The Niuas – The average rainfall in January is 305mm / 12″
Tropical Storms in January
The South Pacific cyclone season starts in November and ends in April, making January a month with a higher risk of tropical storms. On average, about 3% of January in Tonga is affected by tropical storms.
Historically, Tonga was affected by a tropical cyclone, Cyclone Ian, that passed through the Ha’apai Islands. Although it caused much damage, there was only one death resulting from the cyclone.
In more recent history, for a general idea of South Pacific cyclone, the 2017-18 South Pacific cyclone season saw six tropical cyclones, three of which were classed as severe.
If you want to avoid the risk of cyclones in Tonga, it’s best to travel in the dry season. For those planning to travel during January, see How to Prepare for a Cyclone in Tonga.
Best Places to Visit in Tonga in January
Apart from the first week of January, when locals are flying back and forth from Tonga to celebrate the New Year with family, January is a quiet time for tourists to experience the islands. With that in mind, you’re bound to have a great time no matter where you travel to in Tonga. But if we have to choose the best place to visit in Tonga, it would be the following…
Tongatapu – With travel plans often changing during January’s unpredictable weather, staying on Tonga’s arrival island, Tongatapu, is a great way to ensure that your trip runs “smoothly”. Plus, the New Year celebrations, both New Year’s Day and Chinese New Year, are both the most vibrant in the capital, Nuku’alofa. Learn more about visiting Tongatapu in The Complete Guide to Tongatapu.
‘Eua – Only a 10-minute flight from Tongatapu, there is less of a risk of flights or ferries being cancelled to this gorgeous island south of Tongatapu. With limited accommodation at this popular destination, January is the best time to experience Tonga’s oldest island and national park without the risk of it being fully booked! Learn more about the island in The Complete Guide to ‘Eua.
January Packing List for Tonga
Be prepared for Tonga in January by packing these few seasonal essentials:
- High-factor reef-friendly sunscreen
- Rain jacket
- Light cotton layers
- Light long-sleeved tops (to cover from sun and mosquitoes)
- Light pants/trousers (to cover the knees when appropriate – church service, for example)
- Insect repellent
- Flip-flops or sandals
- Sarong (lavalava)
Get more ideas on what to pack for Tonga with The Complete Packing List for Tonga.