What are the 5 Island Groups in Tonga?© TongaPocketGuide.com
What are the 5 Island Groups in Tonga?

What are the 5 Island Groups in Tonga?

© TongaPocketGuide.com

What are the Regions in Tonga?

Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Ha’apai, Vava’u and The Niuas: what does it all mean?! When planning a trip to Tonga, getting your head around the 170 islands split into five different groups can be a little dizzying. We simply lay out where the island groups are in Tonga and briefly describe what they have to offer visitors in this guide to the regions and island groups in Tonga.

For a geography overview, also see Where is Tonga Located?

The 5 Tonga Island Groups in Brief

To make a quick overview of each region in Tonga in brief, here’s how we would describe them in one sentence…

  1. Tongatapu – Tonga’s “mainland” and home to royalty and history
  2. ‘Eua – A nature lover’s paradise and Tonga’s oldest island
  3. Ha’apai – Postcard-perfect islands, beaches, lagoons and clear waters
  4. Vava’u – A watersports haven in a tightly compact island group
  5. The Niuas – Remote, less-travelled and the South Pacific as it used to be.
What are the 5 Island Groups in Tonga?(c) Google Map


An island group in the south of the Tonga archipelago, Tongatapu is made up of Tonga’s largest island surrounded by several small outer islands. It’s home to the nation’s capital, as well as many of Tonga’s historical sites. Limestone caves, blowholes and flying fox colonies are some of the island’s natural attractions. Visitors to Tongatapu have a choice of rainforest and beach holidays or a more urban experience in the capital, Nuku’alofa. Find out more about the Tongatapu island group in The Complete Guide to Tongatapu.


Nuku’alofa is the capital of Tonga, located on the northern coast of Tongatapu. It is a hub of history, food, culture and tourism activity. At the centre of the small capital is the bustling Talamahu Market, surrounded by a vast array of local and international eateries and shops. Another hub of activity surrounds Faua Wharf where some of Tonga’s top water activities depart, from whale swimming tours to snorkelling charters. Find out more about the capital in The Complete Guide to Nuku’alofa.

Understanding the Regions in Tonga(c) Google Map


Sitting less than 20 km (11 mi) southeast of Tongatapu, ‘Eua is Tonga’s third-largest island and is its own administrative division (thus being considered a separate “island group” from Tongatapu despite its proximity). The island is also Tonga’s oldest island at some 40 million years old, bringing along with it some stunning natural attractions and wildlife.

‘Eua is home to the ‘Eua National Park, making it the ideal escape for nature lovers. Under the water’s surface, the island also holds the largest sea cave in the South Pacific, attracting scuba divers and freedivers from all around. Whale swimming, rock climbing, hiking, bird-watching, 4WD land tours, cultural interactions and more are available here.

Learn more about the island of ‘Eua in The Complete Guide to ‘Eua.

Understanding the Regions in Tonga(c) Google Map


Tonga’s central island group is made up of 62 islands scattered across the ocean, yet only 17 are inhabited. The landscape mainly consists of idyllic islands with sandy shores rimmed by coral, as well as a few volcanic islands that have become recent additions to the archipelago over the last 15 years.

The main islands that visitors will see include the main hub, Lifuka Island, the connected Foa Island, as well as the uninhabited (aside from a few resorts) Uoleva Island.

Ha’apai is popular for whale swimming, wellness retreats, scuba diving, snorkelling, kitesurfing and more. Find out more about the island group in The Complete Guide to Ha’apai.

Understanding the Regions in Tonga(c) Google Map


A tightly compact island group north of Ha’apai, Vava’u is Tonga’s second-most developed island group. The group of 50 islands consists of the main island of Vava’u, which is connected to four different islands by causeways, as well as an array of stunning outer islands. Islands vary from sandy-shore coconut palm-swaying landscapes to rugged cliffs hiding various caves.

The main centre of Vava’u is the town of Neiafu, where many water activities depart from the wharves, including whale swimming, fishing charters, sailing charters, scuba diving and boat tours. Visitors will also find Tonga’s other national park, Mt Talau National Park, while yachties will find safe anchorage in the Port of Refuge.

For more information on Vava’u, see The Complete Guide to Vava’u.

Understanding the Regions in Tonga(c) Google Map

The Niuas (Ongo Niua)

A destination far less visited than the rest, The Niuas (locally known as Ongo Niua) is located some 300 km (186 mi) north of Vava’u. The three islands that the group is made up of, Niuatoputapu, Niuafo’ou and Tafahi, are the least developed island group in Tonga, giving a taste of island life in the South Pacific like it used to be. Their remoteness is not only from the rest of Tonga but from each other, with Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou being around 100 km (62 mi) apart.

You’ll find no accommodation for tourists, no tours or organised activities. Yet the locals are extremely welcoming and provide a rewarding experience for anyone who has made the effort to go there.

Find out more about Tonga’s final frontier in The Complete Guide to The Niuas.

More About the Regions and Island Groups in Tonga

That’s it for the regions and island groups in Tonga. For more about Tonga’s islands, take a look at the following:

Finally, for itineraries to put these destinations together, take a look at the following compilations: The Best Tonga Itineraries for 2 WeeksThe Best Tonga Itineraries for 1 WeekThe Best Tonga Itineraries for 5 Days and The Best Tonga Itineraries for a Weekend.


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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