What to Wear in Tonga: Clothes Packing List© TongaPocketGuide.com
What to Wear in Tonga: Clothes Packing List

What to Wear in Tonga: Clothes Packing List

© TongaPocketGuide.com

What Clothes Do You Need for a Trip to Tonga?

Packing: you either love the excitement it builds for your holiday or hate the stress that it builds when considering, “Have I forgotten anything?!” What’s more, you want to pack right for the weather in Tonga, which consistently enjoys warm temperatures throughout the year, usually 25-31°C (77-88°F) in the day and 15-25°C (59-77°F) in the evening. There are also local customs to consider, as well as outfits for different activities you might be doing. We go through all of the essentials, as well as some optional items, in this guide on what clothes to pack for Tonga.

For a complete list of things to pack, see The Complete Packing List for Tonga. Plus, see what weather to pack for in our guide, Tonga Weather by Month: What is the Weather Like in Tonga?

5 Tips for Packing Clothes for Tonga

Before we get into what clothes to pack for Tonga, here are some quick tips for packing clothes for Tonga.

  1. Tonga is a very conservative country. When you’re leaving your resort, respect the local customs by having some light modest outfits that cover the knees and shoulders
  2. Pack versatile outfits, for example, what can be used as an evening outfit for dinner will probably also suit attending a Tongan church service
  3. Don’t overpack. If you are in Tonga for five days or a week, pack clothes to wear for each day. If you are in for a couple of weeks in paradise, pack for a week and use your accommodation’s (or the local laundromat’s) laundry facilities
  4. If you are taking more than one flight to Tonga, make sure to check the baggage allowance of all your flights and take the strictest one into consideration. Otherwise, excess charges may apply. Domestic flights in Tonga usually have the same allowance as international flights
  5. Use packing cubes to organise your suitcase – see our favourites on Amazon or these premium packing cubes to separate dirty from clean clothes.

And for more nifty items, check out the 10 Travel Gadgets & Accessories for a Tropical Holiday. Now, let’s get into the full clothes packing list for Tonga!

What Clothes to Pack to Travel Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

Casual Clothing for Tonga

Due to the warm temperatures, most people in Tonga wear casual and light clothing to keep cool, particularly bamboo, linen or merino wool fabrics. For women, check out the versatile, sustainable and brilliantly breezy bamboo outfits of Moso Morrow.

How to Dress to Respect Local Customs

The most important thing to remember is to dress more conservatively outside of your resort. Respect the local customs by wearing clothing that covers the knees when you’re out and about. Even for swimming, Tongans swim in shorts and T-shirts, so if you’re swimming at a public beach or swimming holes like the Anahulu Caves, where there are likely to be locals around, it’s a good idea to have a rash vest/T-shirt and/or a sarong to cover up when swimming.

As for staying in a resort, wearing shorter shorts and swimming in a bikini are generally acceptable.

For more information about the local customs, check out Tongan Etiquette: Tonga Customs & Traditions.

Casual Clothing List for Men

  • 2 Light shirts
  • 5 T-shirts
  • 2 Shorts/Lightweight pants
  • 1 or 2 Light sleepwear if you’re against sleeping in your undies
  • 1 Smarter holiday shirt to look sharp at dinner and/or church
  • 1 Sports shorts/Pants for hiking/active activities
  • 1 Sports T-shirt for hiking/active activities
  • Light jacket for cooler evenings
  • Light fleece jumper something to keep warm on boat trips after swimming
  • 1 Outfit to travel between Tonga and home
  • 6 Underwear
  • 4 Socks.

Casual Clothing List for Women

  • 4 Singlets/T-Shirts
  • 2 Light blouses/T-shirt to cover the shoulders for church, visiting villages and exploring
  • 2 Shorts/Skirts to or below the knee
  • Dress/Skirt below the knee for church/impress at dinner, going to town or villages, etc. We recommend light fabrics such as the sustainable bamboo dresses and skirts by Moso Morrow
  • 1 Sarong (Lavalava) will be your best friend for hitting the beach and covering your swimwear in between swimming
  • 1 or 2 Light sleepwear if you’re against sleeping in your undies
  • 1 Light jacket/Cardigan/Pashmina for cooler evenings
  • 1 Light fleece jumper something to keep warm after swimming from a boat
  • 1 Sports shorts/Leggings for hiking/active activities, preferable to or below the knee
  • 1 Sports T-shirt/Singlet for hiking/active activities
  • 1 Outfit to travel between Tonga and home
  • 3 Bras including strapless, sports and comfortable bras
  • 6 Underwear
  • 4 Socks.
What to Wear in Tonga: Clothes Packing List© TongaPocketGuide.com

Swimwear for Tonga

Needless to say, you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time in the water in Tonga. We recommend packing two pieces of swimwear, as well as rash vests or something else more conservative if you’re swimming at public beaches outside of your resort.

What Type of Swimwear to Wear in Tonga

For men, boardshorts are more commonly accepted than Speedos. For women, a bikini or bathing suit is good for your resort days, while these should be covered with a rash vest/T-shirt and a sarong (lavalava)/shorts when swimming in a public place.

Don’t Forget Your Rash Vest!

A rash vest is a good idea for sun protection, especially for children – we like the sustainable ethos and quality of Sharkskin rashies! Additionally, while guided snorkelling and whale swimming tours often provide snorkelling gear, for any snorkelling you might want to do from your resort or public beaches, it’s best to pack your own mask and snorkel – TUSA Sport is our go-to.

Swimwear List for Men

Swimwear List for Women

What to Wear in Tonga: Clothes Packing List© TongaPocketGuide.com

Sun, Rain and Insect Protection

With UV levels ranging from 5 to 12 (which is extreme), short yet powerful rainfall, and mosquitos that can carry diseases, the elements can sometimes look like they are trying to ruin your holiday to Tonga. With this in mind, it is worth packing a few extra clothing items that will protect you from the elements.

For the sun, for instance, make sure that everybody has a sunhat and sunglasses. For the mosquitoes, pack a light long-sleeve layer so they have no skin to access. Insect repellent is also useful, but that’s more of an item for the Full Tonga Packing List.

Finally, no matter what time of year you travel but especially during the wet season, which runs from November to April, you might want to take a light rain jacket (unless you plan to duck for cover if it rains or you do one of the 15 Things to Do in Tonga on a Rainy Day).

Protective Clothing for Men, Women and Children

  • Sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Light shirt to cover arms and back
  • Light rain jacket (optional – we find that we quickly dry off in the warm temperatures after a downpour).
What Clothes to Pack to Travel Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

Shoes for Tonga

The last item on your clothes packing list for Tonga is footwear. This depends on what you plan to get up to in Tonga but it’s fair to assume that a good pair of flip-flops and/or sandals would be a good starting point.

If you plan on doing one of the island hikes or land tours, a pair of sturdy sneakers or walking shoes are highly recommended.

Do You Need Reef Shoes for Tonga?

Reef shoes or water shoes in Tonga are recommended if you have them, especially if you plan on snorkelling, but are not strictly necessary. A good pair to have are the unisex Mishansha Water Shoes while Speedo Kid’s and Toddler’s Water Shoes are great for kids.

Footwear for Men, Women and Children

What to Wear in Tonga: Clothes Packing List© TongaPocketGuide.com

Frequently Asked Questions About What to Wear in Tonga

If you still have questions about what to wear in Tonga, you might find your answer here!

What is the Dress Code for Tonga?

The dress code in Tonga is modest clothing, most importantly covering the knees. It also is illegal in Tonga to go topless in public. While Tongans have a dress code for formal occasions, like wearing a ta’ovala or kiekie (waist garments) for going to church, for example, tourists are not expected to wear these garments.

Can You Wear Shorts in Tonga?

Yes, you can wear shorts in Tonga. However, shorts should be at least to or below the knee. Short shorts are not usually appropriate for going out in public.

What Do You Wear to Tonga?

In Tonga, you wear modest clothing such as shorts or skirts that cover the knee. It is also customary to wear clothes over the top of bathing suits, such as shorts and T-shirts.

What is a Tongan Skirt Called?

A wrap-around skirt, often tailored if worn by men or a more casual piece of fabric worn by all genders, is a lavalava in Tonga. Other “Tongan skirts” may refer to the ta’ovala, which is a woven wrap-around waist mat that is worn over the top of outfits.

What Wetsuit for Tonga?

During the winter season in Tonga, a 5 mm full-length wetsuit is usually comfortable, along with a warm layer for boat rides after getting out of the water. In summer, a 3 mm full-length or a shortie wetsuit is usually suitable for these months. Find out more on the subject in The Best Time to Dive in Tonga.

More About What Clothes to Pack for Tonga

That’s it for our list of the best clothes to pack for Tonga! Now that you have made your clothes packing list for Tonga, here are more packing tips:

Finally, don’t forget a thing to prepare for your trip by using The Complete Tonga Travel Guide and 30 Tips for Travelling in 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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