Tongatapu Island

Travel Guide

Tonga’s main island is a treasure trove of ancient burial mounds, stunning coastal scenery and colourful markets selling tropical fruits.

No sooner do you arrive on Tongatapu Island than you slip into the slower, more relaxed Tongan pace of life. Here you can spend your days snorkelling at pristine beaches, visiting the tombs of ancient kings or chatting with locals in the markets or restaurants.

Tongatapu, which translates as “Sacred South”, is the largest of Tonga’s islands and the place where most visitors to the country will land. Trips to the exotic outer islands await, but it is well worth exploring this fascinating part of Tonga as well.

Stay in the capital, Nuku’alofa. Here you can shop with locals at Talamahu Market where pyramids of colourful tropical fruit make for some great photographs and tasty snacks. Head to the harbour to see the Royal Palace, a wooden structure built in 1867, still home to the island’s king.

The island is one of the Pacific’s most significant archaeological sites and much of its history can still be seen today. Head to Mu’a, the island’s second city, to see the burial tombs of ancient Tongan kings. The burial mounds are known locally as langi and are arranged in terraces on hillsides. Another fascinating historical site is Ha’amonga a Maui, a trilithon structure made of coral thought to date back to the 13th century.

Rent a car or scooter and you can easily get around the island in a day. On your way around stop off at the beauty spots of the Anahulu Cave, on the eastern side of the island, and the Mapu'a 'a Vaca Blowholes, which are located on the southern coastline. History buffs will also want to see the landing sites of the explorers Abel Tasman and James Cook.

Get to Tongatapu by flying into the Fua’amotu International Airport. Catch a taxi or arrange for a hotel shuttle bus to take you to Nuku’alofa, which is located 21 kilometres (13 miles) northwest of the airport.

Once you have explored Tongatapu, take a trip to one of the many outer islands where untouched white-sand beaches and pristine waters await. Pangaimotu Island is one of the most popular.

Emerald Hotel
Emerald Hotel
3.5 out of 5
Vuna Road, Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu
Fully refundable
The price is NZ$115 per night from 4 Dec. to 4 Dec.
Located in the heart of Nuku'alofa, this beach hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Royal Palace of Tonga and Royal Tombs. Interisland Ferry Terminal and Ancient ...
3.6/5 Good! (36 reviews)
Restaurant
"The restaurant wasn’t serving food so I had to go to another hotel, for me that was a huge inconvenience."

Reviewed on 11 Mar. 2020

Emerald Hotel
Likualofa Beach Resort
Likualofa Beach Resort
3 out of 5
Kanokupolu, Kanokupolu
The price is NZ$144 per night from 4 Dec. to 4 Dec.
This Kanokupolu resort is on the beach, 1.7 mi (2.8 km) from Ha'atafu Beach, and within 12 mi (20 km) of Mapu'a 'a Vaca Blowholes and Royal Tombs. Royal Palace ...
3.8/5 Good! (101 reviews)
"We stayed at Liku'alofa for 3 weeks for our honeymoon in December. It was wonderful! The staff were brilliant, the food was excellent, and the fale was spacious with a very comfy bed. There were a few negatives though - the fale only had cold water, the power went out a couple of times (twice over ..."

Reviewed on 13 Feb. 2020

Likualofa Beach Resort
Tanoa International Dateline Hotel
Tanoa International Dateline Hotel
4 out of 5
Vuna Road, Nuku'alofa
Situated near the beach, this hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Royal Palace of Tonga and Royal Tombs. Interisland Ferry Terminal and Ancient Tonga are also within ...
3.9/5 Very Good! (102 reviews)
"Nicest hotel in nukualofa we’ve stayed in! Third time staying here it’s our go to hotel!"

Reviewed on 10 Mar. 2020

Tanoa International Dateline Hotel
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Saoirses East
Saoirses East
3.5 out of 5
Off Alalvahamama'o Bypass Rd, Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu
Situated in Nuku'alofa, this holiday home is within 3 miles (5 km) of Interisland Ferry Terminal, Ancient Tonga and Royal Tombs. Royal Palace of Tonga and Vaiola ...
Saoirses East
Teukava Beach Oasis
Teukava Beach Oasis
2 out of 5
Ha'atafu Beach, Hihifo, Ha'atafu, Tongatapu
Situated in Ha'atafu, this beach cabin is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Ha'atafu Beach and 8.5 mi (13.7 km) from Mapu'a 'a Vaca Blowholes. Royal Tombs and Royal Palace ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (10 reviews)
"We loved our stay here. We loved the simple Tongan style accommodation. There are only 3 fales set in beautiful tropical gardens where guests are allowed to pick their own pawpaw and coconuts. It is private, secure and quiet, set beside the best snorkelling beach in Tonga with the use of kayaks. ..."

Reviewed on 17 Oct. 2019

Teukava Beach Oasis
Elizabeth's Cozy Home
Elizabeth's Cozy Home
Kaho-Mo-Vailahi Road, Nuku'alofa, Tonga, 1, Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu
Situated in Nuku'alofa, this holiday home is within 1 mile (2 km) of Royal Tombs and Royal Palace of Tonga. Vaiola Hospital and Flea Market are also within 3 ...
Elizabeth's Cozy Home
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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