The Guide to the New Year in Tonga
Tonga is the first country in the world to see the New Year due to its prime spot on the International Dateline. That reason alone is well worth celebrating New Year’s Eve in Tonga, but you also might want to head to the Kingdom for a bit more than that. You’ll be able to experience a different pace of life and reconnect with some of the values that matter, whether it’s rest and relaxation with your loved ones at one of the resorts or experiencing unique traditions with the locals.
If you’re also in Tonga for Christmas, be sure to check out Where to Spend Christmas in Tonga.
5 Ways to Spend the New Year in Tonga
- Go to a local church service to see the New Year in with amazing Tongan singing
- Relax and go snorkelling at one of the beach resorts
- Watch the first sunrise of the New Year at Keitahi Beach in Vava’u
- Experience a Tongan feast, like an “umu”
- Head to one of the bars in Nuku’alofa
Find out more about each point in 5 Ways to Celebrate the New Year in Tonga.
New Year’s Eve in Towns and Villages
New Year’s Eve celebrations are celebrated in communities in Tonga, with not much in the way of events for tourists. However, if you are staying in a town or village, perhaps in a hotel, guest house or homestay, you’re bound to see or experience some insight into the way Tongans celebrate the New Year.
Accommodation in Towns and Villages
The most common types of accommodations found in Tonga’s populated areas are hotels and guest houses. Browse accommodation in the following articles:
- 10 Best Guest Houses in Tongatapu
- 5 Best Guest Houses in Ha’apai
- 6 Best Guest Houses in Vava’u
- 10 Best Hotels in Tongatapu
- 5 Best Hotels in Vava’u
To make it more of a locals experience, you may want to try a Tongan homestay where you’ll be able to experience the New Year with a Tongan family. See the 5 Best Homestays on Tongatapu for ideas.
New Year Celebrations in Tonga
New Year’s Eve in Tonga is usually celebrated locally with church, family and food. Many businesses are closed between Christmas and the day after New Year’s Day so the whole week between the two public holidays is bustling with celebrations and activity within towns and villages.
Many Tongans celebrate New Year by going to church. Churches of all Christian denominations put on sunset and midnight services where visitors can experience the enthusiastic singing of the locals. It’s usually a humbling and spiritual way to see the New Year in. During the first week of January, prayer continues each day for “uike lotu”, which roughly translates to “one week of prayer”.
Speaking of singing, many communities in Tongan villages will host singing competitions between Christmas and New Year’s Day, usually forming bands and using everyday items as instruments.
Other than sharing songs, Tongans also like to share food with many families gifting meals to each other throughout the Christmas and New Year holiday period. In some villages, there will be a community feast on New Year’s Eve, where the church bells ringing is an indication of when the feast is ready.
New Year’s Eve in Resorts
During the time when the rest of Tonga shuts down, resorts are one of the few businesses still up and running for New Year’s Eve. Travellers can enjoy a stunning tropical getaway for the New Year staying in one of Tonga’s amazing resorts.
Resorts in Tonga
Check out some of the resorts around Tonga in the following articles.
- 10 Best Resorts in Tongatapu
- 6 Best Resorts in ‘Eua
- 10 Best Resorts in Ha’apai
- 10 Best Resorts in Vava’u
How to Spend New Year’s in a Resort
Tonga’s resorts are almost always located on the beachfront, whether it’s on the main island or on a remote uninhabited island. Either way, travellers will be able to enjoy all the water activities Tonga’s resorts are famous for, from snorkelling to kayaking. You’ll be able to relax with your toes in the sand and enjoy the cuisine available at your resort’s restaurant. Some resorts put on special Tongan-style New Year’s feasts for their guests.
All in all, spending a New Year in the first country in the world to see New Year’s Day means relaxing in paradise.
New Year’s Eve in Nuku’alofa
If you’re looking for a party vibe, your best bet is Nuku’alofa. Nuku’alofa is the capital of Tonga and home to several bars and clubs where you can let your hair down and see in the New Year with a few drinks.
Bars in Nuku’alofa
Some of the bars found around Nuku’alofa include:
- Reload Bar, Tafa’ahau Road
- Billfish Bar & Restaurant, Vuna Road
- Vuna Restaurant & Bar, Vuna Road
- Ngutulei Bar, Vuna Road
- Nauti Ruby’s Bar & Nightclub, Vuna Road