The Luxury Travel Guide to Vava'u©
The Luxury Travel Guide to Vava'u

The Luxury Guide to Vava’u


How to Plan a Luxury Trip to Vava’u

Tonga’s top sailing hub; home to breathtaking scenery both out and under the water, Vava’u is a must for luxury travellers seeking something “different” in the South Pacific. Vava’u is not a place of five-star luxury, but a place where you can experience authentic island life and all the perks that come along with it like fishing giant marlin, snorkelling with magnificent whales, and cruising around picture-perfect islands. Let us guide you through the most premium resorts, activities and dining with this luxury travel guide to Vava’u.

Top 10 Luxury Activities in Vava’u

If all you need is an overview of what a luxury getaway to Vava’u looks like, here are some of the tours and activities you could be experiencing:

  1. Scuba dive among stunning coral
  2. Join a sailing charter and explore the islands
  3. Catch marlin and GT on a fishing excursion
  4. Swim with humpback whales
  5. Experience the “Grand Tour” at ‘Ene ‘io Botanical Garden
  6. Indulge in some delightful Tongan-inspired cuisine
  7. Do an island yoga session
  8. Embark on an island cruise
  9. Hit some amazing kitesurfing grounds
  10. Shop for unique arts and crafts.

See more activities like this in the 10 Best Luxury Experiences in Vava’u. Or, you could simply continue reading…

The Luxury Travel Guide to Vava'u©

How to Get to Vava’u

Vava’u is the second-most northern island group in Tonga, accessed directly from overseas with flights from Fiji, Samoa and American Samoa, as well as cruise ships from around the Pacific Rim. Most travellers arrive in Vava’u through Tongatapu. Once you’re on the islands, accommodation providers will arrange transport to and from the resort.

Flights to Vava’u

With most travellers arriving in Tonga through Tongatapu, often the most convenient way to get to Vava’u is by taking a one-hour flight from Tongatapu to Vava’u. Flights run daily except for Sundays. Find out more in The Guide to Domestic Flights in Tonga.

Cruises to Vava’u

Vava’u is on the itinerary of a few luxurious cruise ships sailing the South Pacific islands. While a valid way to visit Vava’u, the downside is that it only allows for a one-day visit. Find out more about cruising to Vava’u in the 10 Cruises That Visit Tonga.

Sailing to Vava’u

Finally, many luxury travellers are likely to find themselves in Vava’u as part of a yacht charter or with their own sailing vessel. The Port of Refuge is renowned across the South Pacific for providing safe anchorage and amazing sailing grounds. Find out more about clearance formalities and more in The Sailing Guide to Tonga.

How to Get Around Vava’u

Vava’u’s main island, ‘Utu Vava’u and some surrounding islands, such as Pangaimotu, ‘Utungake, Koloa and Okoa, are well-connected by roads and causeways. Taxis and car rentals are available to get around these islands, while accommodations also provide airport transfers.

For those staying on the outer islands, boat transfers are mainly provided by your chosen resort or arranged with a local boat operator. We dive much more into detail about transport in Vava’u in the 10 Ways to Get to (& Around) Vava’u.

The Luxury Guide to Vava’u(c) Tonga Ministry of Tourism

Luxury Tours and Activities in Vava’u

Most of Vava’u’s premium experiences are out on the sheltered waters of the island group, where the underwater world is teeming with life. Swim with humpback whales, dive over incredible reef systems, fish for monstrous marlin, and much more! There’s still something worth sticking to land for though, whether it’s a soothing yoga retreat, engaging in a captivating garden and culture tors or simply doing nothing at all…

Swimming with Humpback Whales

A once-in-a-lifetime experience for many, swimming with majestic humpback whales is a special activity on offer in Vava’u. Tonga is one of the very few countries in the world where swimming with these majestic creatures is available. Getting in the water with these gentle giants is a humbling experience, best done on a small-group tour for a more intimate whale swimming experience. Compare such tours in the 10 Best Whale Swim Tours in Vava’u.

Scuba Diving

Whatever the season, scuba diving is a must in the warm and crystal-clear waters of Vava’u. Explore stunning coral reefs full of fish, sharks, nudibranchs, crustaceans, hard and soft corals. Dive the exciting Clan MacWilliam Wreck sitting in the Neiafu Harbour. Find amazing drop-offs, chimneys, caves and swim-throughs, and the list goes on! Most of the dive operators can be found on the waterfront of Neiafu, which you can compare in The Best Dive Shops & Operators in Vava’u.

Sports and Game Fishing

Vava’u is an angling oasis of the South Pacific with exciting opportunities to catch marlin and giant trevally. Join Hakula Lodge which specialises in game fishing with charters from their private dock. Alternatively, reel in the big ones with Kiwi Magic or Vava’u Sport Fishing Charters. A number of fishing charters can be found along Neiafu’s waterfront offering exciting fishing all year round! Compare your options in The Best Fishing Charters in Vava’u.

‘Ene’io Botanical Garden

Get the premium experience of one of the most reputable landmarks in Vava’u on the “‘Ene’io Grand Tour“. Join the former Director for Agriculture and Forestry, Haniteli Fa’anunu, for an insightful guided tour of his beautifully curated ‘Ene’io Botanical Garden.

You’ll be greeted with a fresh floral garland on arrival before embarking on a walking tour of the garden to learn about the fascinating uses of plants and flowers from across the South Pacific. After the guided garden tour, enjoy a demonstration or live show of how plants are processed into valuable products by the local women at the garden’s visitor centre. Continue to a scrumptious Tongan feast with a roast suckling pig and taste local dishes. Relax and enjoy the dazzling display of traditional dancing with a floor show and a live band with folk music to enjoy.

Note that a minimum of eight guests are needed for this tour to go ahead. Learn more about the tour and how to get there in the 5 Best Guided Island Land Tours of Vava’u.


Vava’u and the Port of Refuge are renowned for being one of the best sailing grounds in the South Pacific. Of course, most travellers don’t realise what this means unless they step onboard a sailing vessel and discover it for themselves. For instance, TradeWinds offers luxury sailing holidays from Neiafu taking you across the island group to anchor in remote bays and even team up the experience with staying at a private island resort. Learn more about the experience in the 10 Best Boat & Sailing Tours in Vava’u.

More Things to Do in Vava’u

For more inspiration, such as yoga and handicraft shopping, head over to the 10 Best Luxury Experiences in Vava’u. Alternatively, for experiences that don’t necessarily fall into the “luxury” category but are arguably just as sensational, take a look at the 50 Best Things to Do in Vava’u.

The Luxury Guide to Vava'u©

Luxury Dining in Vava’u

“Fine dining” is not really available in Vava’u, taking a more casual approach when it comes to eating out on the islands. However, there are certain restaurants in Neiafu and in some of the upmarket resorts around Vava’u that offer a more classy dine-in experience. So try some of the local specialities, such as ota ika or lu, or try internationally-inspired dishes made with the freshest local ingredients.

Upscale Dining in Vava’u

One of the top choices in Neiafu is the Bellavista Cafe & Restaurant (Guttenbiel Plaza, Fatafehi Road) overlooking Neiafu Harbour. Italy meets the South Pacific here where you can wake up with an espresso, enjoy Tongan-infused dishes with fresh fish, lobster and octopus, or something more Italian like pizza and pasta.

For European/American-style food done well, head to The Harbourview (Toula). Aside from the idyllic harbour views that give this restaurant and resort its namesake, the diverse breakfast, lunch and dinner menus (which you can choose from any and anytime, FYI) means that everyone in your party is likely to be happy – even the token vegan!

Open to casual diners, the Tongan Beach Resort‘s (‘Utungake) open-air restaurant has items on the menu to offer a taste of Tonga. Try ota ika with breadfruit chips and the grilled fish burger with pickled papaya. The restaurant provides a casual setting for breakfast and lunch, while the lighting and table decor in the evening create one of the most upmarket settings for dinner in Vava’u.

Finally, most resorts in Vava’u will focus on providing whale swimming experiences rather than memorable cuisine but that mantra is switched at The Reef Resort (Kapa Island). Food is at the fore of your stay at the most luxurious resort in Vava’u with the pride being their European-South Pacific fusion cuisine prepared by decorated German and Swiss chefs. Learn more about the resort in the 10 Best Resorts in Vava’u.

For more dining recommendations, see our 15 Best Cafes & Restaurants in Vava’u, as well as our full guide, The Food Guide to Vava’u: Places to Eat & Food Tours.

More About Luxury in Vava’u

That’s it for our complete luxury guide to Vava’u but by no means is the end of the advice we can offer to help you plan the perfect trip. Check out other guides from the Tonga’s largest travel guide:

Finally, you might also be interested in The Complete Luxury Guide to Tonga in case there’s anything you’re missing in your vacation plan.


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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