The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families© Matafonua Lodge - Tonga Ministry Of Tourism
The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families

The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families 👪 [2024]

© Matafonua Lodge – Tonga Ministry Of Tourism

The Complete Family Guide to Tonga

Tonga is not for everyone. It’s for families that are perhaps a little more adventurous than the average; who prefer to adventure together and are looking for an island getaway that’s fun yet educational. These South Pacific Islands strike the right balance of nature and culture, where the underwater world thrives with all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures, while the islands are home to a fascinating Polynesian culture that can be experienced through food, crafts and dance performances.

So, how do you plan a trip to such islands? Fortunately, you’re in the right place; where Tonga’s largest travel guide has condensed everything you need to know about planning a family trip to Tonga into one place. This is it; the complete travel guide to Tonga for families.

An Intro to Tonga

Location: Tonga is in the South Pacific in the continent of Oceania. Tonga is directly south of Samoa and two-thirds of the way between Hawaii and New Zealand. Find out more in Where is Tonga Located?

Size: Tonga has a land area of 750 km² (290 mi²) scattered over 700,000 km² (270,000 mi²) of ocean.

Climate: Daily average temperature – 26°C (79°F), yearly average rainfall – 1,600 mm (63 in).
Find out more in What is the Weather Like in Tonga?

Time zone: TST / GMT+13.
Find out more in What is the Tonga Time Zone?

Population: 100,179.
Find out more in Who are the People of Tonga?

Languages: Tongan and English.
Find out more in The Guide to the Tongan Language.

And that’s some fun facts for adults but children might be more interested in our 45 Fun Facts About Tonga for Kids.

The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families©

How to Get to Tonga

What is the best way to get to Tonga? Tonga can be accessed by flight, cruise ship or private sailing yachts. The most popular way to get to Tonga is by international flight, so let’s start with that.

Flying to Tonga

Direct international flights to Tonga come from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Samoa and American Samoa. If you’re coming from further afield, connecting flights can be made in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji. See our guide, Which Airlines Fly to Tonga? for more advice on flying to Tonga.

Most international arrivals land at Fua’amotu International Airport on the island of Tongatapu, 21 km (13 mi) from the nation’s capital, Nuku’alofa. A limited number of flights also arrive at Lupepau’u International Airport in Vava’u, about 10 km (6 mi) from Neiafu. Find out more about these airports and the best one to fly to in our guide, Tonga Arrival Airports: Which Airport to Fly into Tonga.

Cruises to Tonga

Tonga is on the itinerary of several South Pacific cruises from New Zealand, Australia and French Polynesia. There are two ports of call in Tonga, one in Nuku’alofa on Tongatapu and the other in Neiafu in Vava’u. Find out about which cruise liners have Tonga on their itinerary in the 10 Best Cruises That Visit Tonga.

Sailing to Tonga

Tonga is situated at the centre of a Transpacific journey between the US and New Zealand. The yachting season is between May and October. Learn about the sailing formalities and the ports of entry in The Sailing Guide to Tonga.

A Note on Customs Declarations

Tonga has strict biosecurity measures at the border to stop unwanted pests and diseases from entering the country. Therefore, anyone arriving in Tonga has to declare any “risk items” they have packed in their luggage – even common items like food and sports gear. Be sure to read up on Arriving in Tonga: Airport Customs, Biosecurity & Arrival Process so you are prepared.

Check out our complete guide on How to Get to Tonga for even more tips on making your way to the islands of Tonga.

The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families© Matafonua Lodge - Tonga Ministry Of Tourism

When to Visit Tonga

Tonga is a tropical country and experiences warm temperatures throughout the year. It has two distinct seasons, a dry season that is drier and cooler, and a wet season that is hot and humid. Learn much more about the weather and climate by month in our guide to the Tonga Weather, Seasons & Climate + Tonga Weather by Month.

Dry Season (May to October)

The dry season is also known as the winter season in Tonga, although many would not describe it as winter with temperatures around 19-29°C (66-84°F). The rainfall per month is an average of 110 mm (3.9 in). The dry season is also the time for whale watching and the clearest visibility for snorkelling.

Wet Season (November to April)

The wet season is hotter and more humid, with temperatures around 23-31°C (74-88°F) and an average monthly rainfall of 210 mm (8.3 in). This is also Tonga’s cyclone season, which means there’s a risk of cyclones (but only a risk).

So when is the best time to travel to Tonga? Check out our complete guide, The Best Time to Visit Tonga, which dives deeper into the subject.

The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families© Pixabay

Family Packing List for Tonga

The main thing you need to keep in mind when packing for Tonga is to have a tropical wardrobe that includes some more modest items of clothing for exploring Tonga’s towns and villages. A packing list for Tonga might look a little something like this for each family member (where appropriate):

  • 4 Singlets/T-Shirts
  • 2 Blouses/Shirts to cover the shoulders
  • 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
  • 1 Bikini for resort beach/pool
  • 1 One-piece for watersports
  • 2 Boardshorts for guys
  • 1 Rash vest (we like sustainable Sharkskin rashies)
  • Sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Flip-flops/Sandals
  • Walking shoes/Sneakers
  • Reef shoes/Water shoes.

Accessories for Kids and Babies

And that’s just the clothes and a few child-friendly accessories! For a full packing list of everything to take, including accessories and toiletries, check out The Complete Packing List for Tonga. Plus, we have more useful packing recommendations in our 20 Essential Tips for Travelling to Tonga with Children.

Health Products

With questionable drinking water, high UV levels and the presence of mosquitos, certain health products are essential to take to Tonga. Tonga also has a fragile marine ecosystem so natural sunscreens and repellents are a must, while reusable water purification bottles are preferable to buying bottled water for obvious environmental reasons. See our health essentials packing list in What Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for Tonga, as well as tips for protecting the health of the environment in the 30 Ways to Travel More Sustainably in Tonga.


The currency in Tonga is Tongan Pa’anga. You will need to be prepared to get by on cash for much of your stay as this is often the only payment method accepted. There are ATMs in the four main towns of Tonga. Get more money tips in What is The Best Way to Pay in Tonga?

Do You Need a Visa to Visit Tonga?

For citizens of around 70 different countries, the answer is no. You just need to arrive in Tonga with a valid passport. Citizens not of visa-exempt countries will need an Entry Permit. Find out more about Do You Need a Visa to Visit Tonga? and what other paperwork to prepare in What Documents Do I Need to Travel to Tonga?

The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families 👪 [2023]©

How Long to Spend in Tonga

Tonga might make for an idyllic boutique resort getaway to simply relax for a few days  – and that’s fine; we all need to R&R from time to time. More intrepid families, however, are here to explore and experience some of the most dramatic culture and wildlife experiences in the South Pacific. With that in mind, here’s what you can achieve in certain timeframes… (And don’t worry, we’ll get onto the destinations in the next few sections).

3 Days / A Long Weekend in Tonga

Over a long weekend, you have enough time to see the highlights of Tongatapu. Check out the Tonga Family Itinerary: 3 Days for our recommended itinerary.

5 Days in Tonga

Start by exploring Tongatapu, then head to one of the outer islands, such as the nearby ‘Eua, for a couple of days. See Tonga Family Itinerary: 5 Days for a fun trip idea.

7 Days / 1 Week in Tonga

Visit two island groups to experience two sides of Tonga. Flights and ferries connect the main four groups regularly so take your pick! Get some inspiration on what to do and where to go from Tonga Family Itinerary: 7 Days.

14 Days / 2 Weeks in Tonga

Adventurous travellers can visit as many as four major island groups of Tonga. See the Tonga Family Itinerary: 14 Days for a whole two weeks of exciting experiences.

The Guide to Tonga for Families(c)

Where to Visit: Family Holidays to Tongatapu

Tongatapu is the main island of Tonga and the easiest and cheapest option for a family getaway to The Kingdom. There are two types of holidays you could be having here, either an urban getaway staying in the capital, Nuku’alofa, or a beach/forest holiday at one of the limited resorts lining the coast or interior forest.

Tongatapu is a good choice for the family who wants to enjoy some sightseeing and exploration, as the island has a dizzying array of natural wonders and historical sites to check out. Swim in the gorgeous limestone caves of ‘Anahulu, see the mysterious Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon and visit the various palaces and tombs of the South Pacific’s only monarchy.

In between all of that, you’ll find some delightful beaches around Tongatapu, although not quite as paradise-like as some of the other island groups. Boat tours for snorkelling and island-hopping depart from Nuku’alofa, which are a great way to get out on the water to family-friendy destinations, instead of the less-suitable whale watching and scuba diving excursions.

Want to learn more about Tongatapu? Check out our guides: The Guide to Tongatapu for Families, as well as The Guide to Nuku’alofa for Families.

The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families 👪 [2023]© Tonga Ministry of Tourism

Where to Visit: Family Holidays to ‘Eua

‘Eua is a large island off the eastern shores of Tongatapu, which takes half a day by ferry or a seven-minute flight to get to. It differs greatly from Tongatapu in that it’s an island much less developed with the stunning ‘Eua National Park and rugged coastline to enjoy (as well as a few beaches). It’s the oldest island in Tonga with some incredible formations, including caves, natural arches, giant banyan trees and more.

‘Eua is certainly an island for the active family, perhaps for hiking with older kids or younger ones might enjoy the 4WD tours to see attractions, such as the wild horses among the Lakufa’anga Rock Gardens or the child-friendly natural swimming hole, Hafu Pool. It’s one of the best islands to watch whales from shore in the whale season, which is more child-friendly than whale swimming tours.

Learn more about visiting ‘Eua on a family getaway in The Guide to ‘Eua for Families.

The Guide to Tonga for Families(c) Matafonua Lodge - Tonga Ministry of Tourism

Where to Visit: Family Holidays to Ha’apai

For families looking for that idyllic beach holiday with plenty of sun, sea and sand, consider a getaway to the islands of Ha’apai. 62 islands scatter this central area of Tonga, where resorts on less-developed and even uninhabited islands make an exciting base for your holiday. If you’re looking for a place with great snorkelling from shore and where kayak hire is all part of the package.

The islands of Ha’apai are fringed by tranquil lagoons which make for safer swimming for families, while resorts can also take families out to various islands and snorkelling spots nearby. Otherwise, horseback riding experiences and reef walks make other popular family-friendly activities.

Whale watching can be enjoyed from shore in the season, while family-friendly fishing charters and drinking from a coconut could be other ways to spend your time on these idyllic islands.

Learn more about a family getaway to these islands in The Guide to Ha’apai for Families.

The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families 👪 [2023]©

Where to Visit: Family Holidays to Vava’u

For families seeking water activities (and then some more water activities), the islands of Vava’u are worth considering. The northern island group of Tonga is an adventure hub for whale swimming, scuba diving and charter fishing. Otherwise, there’s no lack of island-hopping and snorkelling trips in Vava’u, taking you to highlights like Swallows’ Cave and the Coral Gardens – some of the best underwater seascapes in Tonga that you can see through simply snorkelling.

Families can choose to either stay in the main town of the island group, Neiafu, which has a range of hotels, villas and holiday homes, or at one of the island resorts. If staying in Neiafu, you might want to take a trip to Veimumuni Cave or the ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden for some fun land experiences. Otherwise, those staying at island resorts have kayaks, snorkelling, sandcastles and relaxation to enjoy.

Learn more about visiting Vava’u in The Guide to Vava’u for Families.

The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families©

How to Get Around Tonga

Tonga might not have an overwhelming number of island groups but the distance between each is quite substantial with around 180 km (110 mi) between Tongatapu and Ha’apai and 130 km (80 mi) between Ha’apai and Vava’u. Not to mention, Tonga’s larger islands are well worth exploring in their own right. So how do you get around Tonga?

Domestic Flights

To get between island groups, flights operate daily except Sundays. They are the fastest and most comfortable way to get between islands, so naturally, the most expensive option. Learn more about flying between the island groups in The Guide to Domestic Flights in Tonga.

Interisland Ferries

Cargo-style boats and barge ferries travel between Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Ha’apai and Vava’u several times a week. They are cheaper than flying but trips can last several hours. See The Guide to Travelling in Tonga by Ferry to learn much more about this transport method.

Car Rental

Car rental is readily available in Tongatapu and Vava’u, but a little harder to find in ‘Eua and Ha’apai unless you know where to look. Baby seats are only available on Tongatapu. Find out everything you need to know about hiring in What You Need to Hire a Car in Tonga.


Taxis are available in Tongatapu and Vava’u. Ask for the going rate, as many don’t use meters. See The Guide to Taxis in Tonga for more tips.


Buses are ultra-cheap, providing a local experience to get around Tongatapu. We have a guide for that too, in How to Travel Around Tonga By Bus.

There are a lot more ways to travel around Tonga between resort transfers, guided tours, bicycle rental and even multi-day kayaking tours so be sure to browse our Tonga Transport Guide: 15 Ways to Get Around Tonga for more advice.

The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families 👪 [2023]©

Where to Stay: Family Accommodation in Tonga

Families have plenty of styles of accommodation to choose from in Tonga. There are no kids’ clubs and no large international chain resorts; Tonga’s accommodations are intimate with the exception of one large hotel in Nuku’alofa. Choose from beachfront resorts typically consisting of only two to seven fales (beach houses), while family rooms in guesthouses provide a cheap and homely experience. Holiday homes/villas and hotels are also options.

Note that due to the small capacity of Tonga’s accommodations, therefore a smaller number of family rooms, families are recommended to book accommodation as far in advance as possible, especially in the high season.

Take a look at accommodation styles across Tonga in Where to Stay in Tonga: The Best Accommodations in Tonga and find out more about choosing family stays in How to Pick the Best Family-Friendly Accommodation in Tonga.

Family Resorts

Typically lining a beach or private island, Tonga’s resorts are small. Most have either an à la carte restaurant or a dining fale where shared meals are served. Many resorts will offer their own array of free and paid experiences, such as whale swimming, scuba diving, use of watersports equipment and more. Resorts are by no means five stars but range from basic traditionally built fales to well-appointed bungalows.

Learn more about what to expect from Tonga’s resorts in How to Pick the Best Resort in Tonga for You. Plus, don’t miss the 20 Best Family Resorts & Accommodations in Tonga.

Holiday Homes/Villas

For travellers seeking their own space and perhaps conveniences like self-catering facilities, choose one of the holiday homes or villa complexes in Tonga. Holiday homes can be cost-effective for families, while villas tend to have everything needed for families to enjoy a self-contained stay.

Check out How to Pick the Best Holiday Home in Tonga for You and How to Choose the Best Villa in Tonga for You for more details. Plus, be sure to browse the 20 Best Holiday Homes in Tonga and 10 Best Villas in Tonga.


Found in each island group’s main towns, guesthouses are usually owned by locals providing affordable and authentic Tongan hospitality. Guests have a private room, sometimes with an ensuite, and share communal facilities like a kitchen and bathroom. Note that “family rooms” in guesthouses typically consist of a double/queen bed and one single.

Find out more about their facilities in How to Pick the Best Guesthouse in Tonga for You, as well as our top picks in the 10 Best Guesthouses in Tonga.


Hotels offer an alternative accommodation option in Tonga’s two largest towns, Nuku’alofa and Neiafu. They range in quality from Tonga’s one international-style hotel to the more prevalent three-star boutique hotels and budget hotels.

Check out How to Pick the Best Hotel in Tonga for You for more of an overview or jump straight to our favourites in the 25 Best Hotels in Tonga.

Accommodation Standards in Tonga

It’s important to set a few expectations straight before checking into your accommodation in Tonga. Tonga is a developing country with a younger tourism industry and, in turn, less expertise than some of the more developed tourist hubs of the South Pacific. Some accommodations can be pretty basic, and not all of your usual facilities are provided. All in all, it is best to keep an open mind.

The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families© Matafonua Lodge - Tonga Ministry Of Tourism

Things to Do in Tonga with Kids

Tonga hooks most travellers with the prospect of swimming with humpback whales but there’s much more to this island nation. You never know, after browsing our 101 Best Things to Do in Tonga: The Ultimate List you might just realise that there are amazing family experiences even outside of the whale season.

When it comes to family-friendly experiences, Tonga certainly provides with just some of the following examples:

For more ideas and elaboration, see the 15 Best Things to Do in Tonga with Kids.

Fun Facts for Kids

Before you get started on your trip to Tonga, get the kids involved by teaching them some fun facts about Tonga! We’ve compiled some in the 45 Fun Facts About Tonga for Kids so you can make your own trivia.

The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families 👪 [2023]©

Food in Tonga

Food is an integral part of the Tongan culture. Despite there being limited dining options outside of main centres like Nuku’alofa and Neiafu, accommodation hosts will ensure you won’t go hungry by either providing homecooked meals of Tongan fare or boasting their own restaurant with an international menu. Everything you need to know about food in Tonga can be found in The Food Guide to Tonga: Places to Eat & Food Tours.

Restaurants and Cafes

Tonga’s restaurants can be found in Nuku’alofa and Neiafu, as well as some of its resorts. They typically have international influences, such as Italian, American, British, Chinese and more, as well as local Tongan dishes. However, kids’ menus are rare, so be prepared to be creative when ordering, such as ordering sides, entrées and sharing mains. Check out our top dining picks in the 20 Best Restaurants in Tonga.


Self-catering is often an option with many accommodations offering some sort of cooking facilities. Travellers can pick up food from small supermarkets, fale koloa (convenience stores), and produce markets. Get advice on self-catering in our guide, A Guide to Supermarkets & Food Shopping in Tonga.

Special Diets

With tropical vegetables and coconut cream being staple ingredients in Tonga, vegans and gluten-intolerant diners are usually doable in Tonga but you will struggle to find dishes on restaurant menus that cater to various diets. Those with dietary health issues should let accommodation hosts know about any dietary requirements before arrival. Check out Tonga for Vegans & Vegetarians + 10 Best Restaurants, as well as The Gluten-Free Guide to Tonga for more advice.

What Food to Try

And what are the foods worth trying in Tonga? Tongan food can be sampled at Tongan restaurants, cultural shows and buffets, locally-owned supermarkets, and markets and roadside stalls, particularly on a Saturday. Check out which meals to look out for in the 10 Unique Foods in Tonga You Have to Try, as well as drinks in the 10 Drinks in Tonga You Have to Try!

Food and Water Safety

Tourist accommodations in Tonga tend to have access to safe drinking water, whether it’s a jug of filtered water at reception or the option to buy bottled water. See Is the Water Safe to Drink in Tonga? for more advice. Food in Tonga is generally cooked to safe hygiene standards, but check out Tonga Safety Tips for precautions to take.

Want to know more about dining in Tonga? Head to The Food Guide to Tonga: Places to Eat & Food Tours.

The Travel Guide to Tonga for Families©

Typical Costs and Budget for a Family Trip to Tonga

We all travel very differently. Therefore, making a precise budget for everyone is, quite frankly, an impossible task. Nevertheless, you can work out your own needs, thus budget, by simply looking at the typical prices listed below or in our article, Tonga Travel Budget: How Much Does a Trip to Tonga Cost?

The Cost of Family Accommodation

The Cost of Food

  • Main breakfast meal – TOP$9-$29
  • Main lunch meal – TOP$15-$30
  • Main dinner meal – TOP$22-$60
  • Dessert – TOP$10-$15
  • Cultural show and buffet – TOP$50-$100
  • Pint of beer – TOP$8-$12
  • Glass of wine – TOP$15.50-$19
  • Small coffee – TOP$5-$8
  • Soft drink – TOP$5-$7
  • Resort meal plan full-board/day – TOP$170-$290.

Grocery prices for self-catering can be found in What is the Cost of Food in Tonga?

The Cost of Tours and Activities

All activity prices are per person unless stated otherwise.

The Cost of Transport

Note that child fares for buses and ferries are cheaper than stated below but are sometimes only applied to “students” i.e. children in school uniform.

  • Bicycle rental/day – TOP$0-$35
  • Car rental/day – TOP$50-$200
  • Public bus/trip – TOP$0.80-$3.50
  • Taxi/first kilometre – TOP$3.50-$4.10/
    Continuous km – TOP$1.20-1.40/km
  • Accommodation/airport transfers/person – TOP$0-$100
  • Ferry/ ‘Eua to Tongatapu – TOP$30
    Ha’apai to Tongatapu – TOP$70-$80
    Vava’u to Tongatapu – TOP$90-$100
    Tongatapu to The Niuas – TOP$150
    Vava’u to Ha’apai – TOP$80-$90
  • Boat charter/ Lifuka to Uoleva – TOP$250
  • Island resort airport transfer – TOP$50-$200
  • Flight/Tongatapu to Vava’u – TOP$340-$390/adult, TOP$230-$295/child, TOP$35/infant
    Tongatapu to Ha’apai – TOP$240-$260/adult, TOP$160-$180/child, TOP$25/infant
    Tongatapu to ‘Eua – TOP$100/adult, TOP$50/child, TOP$10/infant.

Again, check out our guide, Tonga Travel Budget: How Much Does a Trip to Tonga Cost? for more budget tips and costs.

Spending Money for Tonga

Here are a few averages for a daily budget for Tonga. These include food, activities, transport and miscellaneous expenses. Each price is per person per day:

  • Budget daily budget: TOP$150
  • Mid-range daily budget: TOP$295
  • Luxury daily budget: TOP$460+

We break down the budgets further in How Much Spending Money Do You Need for Tonga?

More About Planning a Family Holiday to Tonga

That’s it for our complete guide to Tonga for families but by no means the end of our Tonga advice! Check out the following guides for more tips for families:

And if you simply can’t get enough Tonga wisdom, head over to the 30 Tips for Travelling in Tonga.

Happy travels and thanks for checking out this travel guide to Tonga for families!


Laura (Lola) S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Tonga. She knows the islands inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Tonga’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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