Tonga, a small Pacific nation had been on my travel bucket list ever since I first heard of it. My first planned trip was suddenly cancelled thanks to a cyclone stranding and demoralizing me on Fiji. So when Dan and I decided to go on a pre-wedding-honeymoon we both quickly agreed that it had to be Tonga.
Tonga is made up of around 176 islands, that are divided into five groups. The main land is Tongatapu and is most likely where you will be arriving. Other island groups include ‘Eua, Ha?apai, Niuas, and Vava?u. ‘Eua is the only other island you can travel to by ferry, so be prepared to fly if you want to visit the other island groups.
As flights can sometimes be expensive, we recommend choosing the island groups you are most interested in ahead of time when calculating how much time you will need.
One week to travel the Kingdom of Tonga
One week is an ideal amount of time to get a taste of Tonga. This is enough time to allow you to discover the main island of Tongatapu as well as one of the other island groups. Which island group you want to visit will depend on your circumstances and what you want to get out of your holiday. We are big fans of eco-tourism and prefer to take ferrys over flights, so we opted for the island of ‘Eua. Our itinerary will focus on Tongatapu and ‘Eua, but you can substitute ‘Eua with any other island.
You will arrive by plane to the airport on Tongatapu island. The island is fairly small so nothing is too far away from anything. Flights to Tonga often arrive late at night so check with your preferred accommodation to see if they offer airport pick ups. Taxis are available, but buses do not run late in the evening.
We recommend spending at least your first day in the capital of Nuku’alofa which will allow you to organize the rest of your trip.
Day 1: You will probably have arrived late the night prior and will have taken a taxi or similar transport to your hotel in Nuku’alofa. The city itself is very compact and easy to navigate. Head to the tourist office to organize your accommodation on ‘Eua and then head to the ministry of transport to get your Tongan drivers license. We published a short walking tour which will take you around the main sights of the city and wont take you more than an hour or two.
Day 2 – 4/5: Depending on when you arrive in Tonga, you may be able to depart on the ferry to ‘Eua island straight away. Or you may need to swap this aspect of the itinerary with Day 5/6. I recommend spending 2 – 3 days on the island of ‘Eua to enjoy the laid back pace and explore the natural wonders. How long you spend will depend on the ferry timetable as ferrys only run 4 times per week. Hike, bike, ride horses, and swim with whales.
Day 5-6/ 6-7: When you return to the mainland head to a car rental agency and rent a car for two days. You will need a temporary Tongan drivers license, but you would have already obtained this the first day you were in Nuku’alofa.
Spend two days driving around the mainland, visiting blowholes, caves and spectacular beaches. You can read more at our road trip Tonga guide.
Got more time to travel in Tonga?
Got more time? Awesome! There are three other island groups to explore as well! We did not visit any of the other islands, do can’t make any specific recommendations. Have you been to one of the other island groups? Please let us know about it in the comments!