What is it Like to Visit Tonga?© TongaPocketGuide.com
What is it Like to Visit Tonga?

What is it Like to Visit Tonga? 🤔🌴

© TongaPocketGuide.com

Welcome to The Kingdom of Tonga

170 islands scatter the South Pacific Ocean, harbouring majestic caves, thousands of years of history, kings and queens, crystal clear waters and a safe refuge for humpback whales. This is The Kingdom of Tonga. Still relatively unexplored by travellers, you’ll never have to worry about the tourist crowds here. You’ll find yourself effortlessly immersing in the local culture and leaving the cares of the modern world behind.

So, what’s it like to visit Tonga? Get an overview of the key aspects of a Tonga getaway in the guide below.

Tonga is Like…

… A mix of coral reefs and rugged volcanic islands
… Relaxed, raw and proudly authentic
… Wonderful wildlife encounters
… Warm and tropical
… Paradise!

What is it Like to Visit Tonga?© TongaPocketGuide.com

What is the Weather Like in Tonga?

Tonga is a tropical country on the Tropic of Capricorn with a dry season and a wet season. Temperatures are an average of between 23 and 28°C (75-86°F) all year round with cooler temperatures between May and October and warmer temperatures with high humidity between November and April. This makes Tonga a year-round destination of sunshine, warmth and, admittedly, its fair share of rain.

Learn more about the climate in the islands in Tonga Weather, Seasons & Climate + Tonga Weather by Month.

What is it Like to Visit Tonga?(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

What are the People Like in Tonga?

The most unique aspect of visiting Tonga is the culture. Nowhere else in the world can you experience Tongan culture, which is a Polynesian culture and nation proud to be the only one never to be colonised. It’s also a nation that is far less visited by tourists and thus feels much more authentic than other South Pacific countries. Tours are more about being with a local just showing you the cool stuff around, rather than going through a rehearsed speech.

That’s not to say that there’s no influence from the Western world, especially when it comes to religion. Tonga is a very religious country, which interestingly shuts down on a Sunday. Outside of tourist resorts, it is illegal to conduct business, play sports, exercise or even do some chores! For travellers staying in towns and villages, this is the perfect opportunity to experience the glorious singing of the locals at one of the church services.

Finally, the culture can also be experienced through the handicraft markets that never fail to impress. All handicrafts in Tonga are unique, handmade by locals and use local materials.

Find out more about the culture of Tonga in The Guide to the Tongan Culture for Travellers, as well as ethnicities and population in Who are the People of Tonga?

What is it Like to Visit Tonga?(c) tongapocketguide.com

What is the Wildlife Like in Tonga?

If there’s only one thing you’ve heard about Tonga, it’s probably that you can swim with humpback whales. Needless to say, swimming with these majestic gentle giants is a life-changing experience, making you appreciate the amazing underwater world more than you can imagine. However, travellers also need to set their expectations right, knowing that whales are wild creatures and not every trip provides the “perfect swim”. That’s why it’s always worth booking at least a couple of days for whale swimming to not only increase your chances for an amazing experience but also not pressure tour guides to chase whales. Plus, remember that whales are only in Tonga between July and October.

Learn more about the whales in The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga.

Whales, however, are just one of the thousands of marine life available to interact with in Tonga’s waters. The snorkelling and scuba diving are amazing here, heightened by crystal clear waters and many areas of healthy corals. Get more advice in The Guide to Scuba Diving in Tonga and The Guide to Snorkelling in Tonga.

Finally, how can we forget the flying foxes? Large fruitbats hang in the trees, especially in the villages of Tongatapu. You’ll often hear them before you see them, squeaking in the trees on the side of the road. It’s always worth pulling over for a wildlife fix.

Learn more about the wildlife of Tonga in A Traveller’s Guide to Wildlife in Tonga.

What is it Like to Visit Tonga?(c) tongapocketguide.com

What are the Landscapes Like in Tonga?

Don’t underestimate how much there is to see in Tonga. Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, alone will have you spending full days hopping from one natural wonder to the other. Islands harbour amazing natural attractions, such as 5 km (3.1 mi) of the Mapua ‘a Vaea Blowholes shooting water some 30 m (100 ft) into the air along the coast of Tongatapu. Natural archways that the locals have dubbed “landbridges” decorate some of Tonga’s rockier islands, like Tongatapu and ‘Eua. Not to mention the mesmerising limestone caves you can explore and even swim inside.

Of course, Tonga has its fair share of idyllic islands with white sand beaches, swaying coconut palms and linings of coral reefs. It’s a true South Seas paradise.

As for in the water, how about scuba diving into the South Pacific’s largest sea cave in ‘Eua? Or opt for a casual snorkel into Swallows’ Cave in Vava’u with an amazing surprise waiting inside the cave’s waters.

Get a complete list of amazing natural sights in The 10 Best Natural Attractions in Tonga.

What is it Like to Visit Tonga?(c) tongapocketguide.com

What are the Historic Attractions Like in Tonga?

Arguably, Tonga is one of the most fascinating South Pacific destinations for historical sites. Little is known about the islands’ tribal history, but sites like the stone trilithon, Ha’amonga ‘a Maui, sure make you wonder.

Tonga is also the only South Pacific nation with a monarchy, where royal sights dot Tongatapu, from grand tombs to Victorian-style palaces. Kings also ruled Tonga pre-European times where kings were known as “Tu’i Tonga” and evidence of their fortresses and other sites can be found across the islands.

Check out 10 Fascinating Historical Sites in Tonga, as well as A Brief History of Tonga.

What is it Like to Visit Tonga?© TongaPocketGuide.com

What is the Accommodation Like in Tonga?

Forget five-star resorts packed with other holiday-goers. Tonga’s accommodation provides a true island experience, where you often feel like you have the whole place to yourself…

The main styles of accommodation for tourists in Tonga are resorts and guesthouses. “Resort” is a term used rather loosely, but usually involves individual bungalows or “fales”, a restaurant or dining area, a beach and usually some watersports equipment to take advantage of. On the other hand, guesthouses provide a more local experience, like staying in a bed & breakfast and are irresistibly affordable.

In both cases, accommodations in Tonga are boutique, where resorts and guesthouses only have a handful of rooms. This means that resorts are amazingly tranquil allowing you to fully escape from the modern world.

Learn more about accommodation in Where to Stay in Tonga: The Best Accommodations.

What is it Like to Visit Tonga?© TongaPocketGuide.com

What is it Like to Visit Tonga?

All in all, Tonga is one of the most adventurous holiday destinations in the South Pacific where the people are warm, friendly and genuine, the landscapes are mesmerising and a joy to explore, and the wildlife encounters are breathtaking and humbling.

It helps to be an active and open-minded traveller to make the most of this destination. But when push comes to shove, simply relaxing at the beach or a holiday resort are other worthy ways to visit Tonga.

Is it Worth Visiting Tonga?

If you like a tropical holiday that is out of the ordinary, then it is absolutely worth visiting Tonga! Tonga provides genuine cultural experiences, adventure tourism through whale swimming, relaxing beach holidays through island resorts, and fascinating historical and natural attractions.

Is it Worth Going to Tonga?

If you are an active traveller that prefers authentic accommodations and experiences rather than the polished resort experience, then it is definitely worth going to Tonga.

More About What it is Like to Visit Tonga

That’s it for our guide on what it is like to visit Tonga, but it’s just the beginning! Learn more about what it’s like to visit the islands through the following articles:

Finally, start planning the ultimate trip to the islands with The Complete 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.

Was this article useful?