Way off on the Western end of Tongatupa are the beach resorts. Liku'Alofa was a charming place with friendly staff but definitely everything was on island time there.
On Eua we stayed at Taina’s Place located just south of Eua Airport in Ha’atua Village. This friendly place is run by the well mannered Taina who made us feel instantly welcome. The clean and comfortable bungalow style accommodation is situated on a large plot of land on the edge of Eua’s forest and is a perfect base from which to explore Eua’s rugged southern and eastern coast as well as it’s wild forested interior. Hot showers are provided by way of a gas heater and there is a kitchen ($3 usage charge) as well as a large lounge with TV. Taina also does transfers to and from the ferry port in the village of Ononua.
There are no shops nearby so make sure you bring something to eat and drink with you from Tongatapu. You can also order meals at Taina’s but although we had heard good reports on Taina’s cooking we were a bit disappointed with what we got for $25. However it turned out that it wasn’t Taina herself who cooked but rather her daughter. Maybe Taina’s food would have been better but we felt a bit cheated by what we got. Wouldn’t recommend this option. Apart from this we thoroughly enjoyed our two night stay at Taina’s Place
The only accommodation available on Pangaimotu are the fales built beside Big Mama’s Yacht Club. These fales are basic but very atmospheric with thatched roof and oil lamp lighting. There is no electricity available in the huts bit for us this added to the excitement of staying in a traditional Tongan style fale. Each Fale also has a cold water shower and toilet.
I can also personally vouch for the strength of these huts as the night we stayed on Pangaimotu the island was hit by a twister! The twister hit in the middle of the night and we woke to a tremendous racket as the wind ripped at the roof and walls of our hut. We had no idea that it was a twister at the time and just huddled up and waited for what we thought was a regular South Pacific storm to pass. It seemed to pass quickly but soon started up again with even more ferocity. We were quite worried but stayed put in the hut. It passed by pretty quickly and I ventured out for a look. One of the staff came running down and asked if we were ok and informed us that a twister had just passed over us. We couldn’t believe it but looking around we could see some considerable damage. The roof of the fale next to us was ripped off and parts of the bar and restaurant had been pulled down. We couldn’t believe that we had been so lucky...a thatched Tongan fale is not the best shelter from a twister. Probably one of the weirdest experiences of my life! To make matters worse, next day the owner informed us that they had rang to the mainland to see if the twister had done much damage, only to find out that the twister had missed Tongatapu itself completely!
Toni’s Guesthouse is a good option for budget travellers visiting Tongatapu. Spread between 3 different houses, Toni’s is great value for money and is a good place to meet other travellers. With clean double rooms at 6.50 euro per person a night this place suited us down to the ground and although pretty sparse the rooms are clean and comfortable. We stayed in two of the houses as we were coming and going from Tongatapu visiting and staying on other islands and found both houses very acceptable. The houses have a kitchen for the use of the guests as well as large sitting rooms. There are also some nice outdoor areas to sit and socialise with other travellers
One of the most convenient things about staying at Toni’s is the shuttle service. For just $1 each way, Toni or one of the staff can drop you into Nuku’alofa (the times are on a notice board in the kitchens) For a couple more dollars (depending on group size) he can also drop you and pick you up from most places on the islands including the isolated beaches. You just have to arrange this with him. This makes getting around the island very easy as relying on the bus service isn’t a great way of making your way around Tongatapu especially if short on time. Dinner Show, Airport and Jetty pick-ups and drops are also available at a reasonable price.
Toni’s Island Tours are another plus side of staying at Toni’s (see Things o Do Tips) especially if you get Moni as your guide.
The Kava nights on offer at Toni’s guesthouse are also not to be missed. A real taste of Tongan culture.
A NOTE ON TONI
Toni himself is a British expat and can be a bit hard to listen to as he grumbles and moans about EVRYTHING. I have read other reviews quoting ‘Toni’s dry sense of northern English humour’. Ahh, as an Irish person I think I’m pretty good at recognising dry wit and sarcasm and no Toni doesn’t have it. He thinks he’s being clever and witty but in reality he’s not funny or witty and actually comes across as a bitter old ***. He also doesn’t treat his staff very well as he shouts and abuses them. The staff seem to laugh it off quickly enough though and do seem happy to be working here. Once you suss Toni out for what he is you can get on with your exploration of Tonga as thankfully his personality isn’t reflected in the accommodation he offers.
Tony is a Brit ex-pat and has a nice little guesthouse where you can share a room and cook your own meals. Tony offers a tour for a nominal amount and you see the highlights on Nukualofa. We went on several Umus (Tongan for Luau), snorkeled in pristine water, climbed coconut trees, drank a lot of beer at the Swedish run brewery; on Ha'pai we danced at a Tongan dance, planted some roses at "Billy's" a small resort on the windy - and cooler - side of the island, visited the power plant which consisted of a half dozen locomotive sized generators that were so incredibly loud. We watched fruit bats flying from one side of the island in the am and back in the pm. We had ice cream when it was available, ate fresh bread on Sunday and encountered no motorized vehicles on that Holy day-there were very few tourists - perhaps like Hawaii, or Thailand at some time in the past. To be continued
Where do I start? The Friendly Islander Hotel is a place you shouldn't raise your expectations about but you will be surprised how GREAT it is. It is hidden down the main waterfront on Tongatapu and it's only walking distance to some of the great bars, restaurants, and a couple cafes. It's also walking distance to the main inter-island ferries. If you're really lucky, you will meet Papiloa. She is fantastic!!...and she is the owner of this unique place. As a global traveller, Papiloa was my mother away from home.
The Friendly Islander is a little bit old, it needs a little sprucing up but outside of these cosmetic touches, it was comfortable. Made even more so by Papiloa and her family who made me feel very welcome. One time, the water pressure was low in the pipes and I couldn't shower. That was fine because the Friendly Islander has a swimming pool. However, I actually preferred the massive sea-pool right across the street so I spent my mornings doing laps of a sea-pool.
Don't expect silver service because you won't get it. Not just here but anywhere in Tonga. What you will get is a sterling experience from Papiloa. She is full of knowledge and information and if you spend some time to get to know her, you will find yourself learning more about Tonga and its people than any guidebook will teach you.
If you're looking to travel to other parts of Tonga, Papiloa will not only point to the office of where to book your tickets, she will give you a contact name!!!! Papiloa was like my own personal concierge. She seems to know everything and everyone and they all seem to know her too!! ......and if you're very very lucky like I was, Papiloa will take you around the main island herself. Everyone I met were so warm and inviting.
The Friendly Islander is a hidden secret in Tonga and if you're willing to take a little risk like I did, you will have one of the most memorable experiences of your life.
I love Tonga!! Ofa atu.
The Friendly Islander is situated along the waterfront on the main island. It has a pool, a huge seapool across the street, awesome vistas, sunrises and sunsets. Friendly staff, a restaurant, squash courts and only a stone throw away from some great bars and restaurants.
Situated directly on the beach, beautiful views BUT, very run down, dirty and water supply poor. No water for 2 days, bathroom filthy, shower (ha ha) totally inadequate. Mele, on site manager, a lovely woman doing best she could with very little. Tonga is not geared up for tourists, main town resembles a slum - burnt down buildings from the riots, nothing repaired or rebuilt. Everything closed on Sundays except churches of which there are too many to count. Friendly people, pretty islands to visit, few decent restaurants. Road surfaces poor, very strange little shops - like concrete sheds with bars at the counters. Definately not for the faint hearted and we have travelled to lots of Pacific islands.
Right on the beach, outstanding views but very poor quality accommodation
Winnie's Guesthouse was a clean, comfortable bed and breakfast managed by the owner and her son.
Single and twin rooms are available, net access for a fee, airport transfer, guest kitchen and common living areas. Breakfast everyday is included and lunch and dinner optional for extra fee. A very nice, welcoming, homey place to stay while in Tongatapu.
Cant say I can recommend the Good Samaritan (on Kolovai Beach).
The rooms are scabby, and falling apart. Showers dont work. No way to lock the fale!!!
The food is awful, even on the Friday feast night - which is not very entertaining.
Most nights I was there all the staff left at 1900, locking the fridge... so nothing to eat or drink after that, and no shop nearby!
On our last night a local came into our hut in the night and I had to chase him off...
Sorry - Good Samaritan has some friendly people but its not worth the price.
Worst chicken and chips I ever ate.
We didn't stay there but we talked to people who did and we had a look at their rooms. The bungalows or fales are built in tradition style and materials and with an open air bathroom . They have a hammock , beach chairs and ceiling fans.They are quite lovely and spa like. Each one is in its own private area with beach front.
A couple of nights would be enough for me , and this couple said they were ready to leave after that too . It depends on how much time you need to unwind I think . Its pretty quiet!
Single, Double & Twin: $194; Extra Person: $43
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, free Coffee and Tea, per Person $US65.
On the island of Pangaimotu where we went for a day trip there are a few beach fales . Its rustic but would be nice for a night or two. There is a rustic main fale overlooking one of the best swimming beaches in Tonga.
We didn't stay but went over for lunch and had a look around.
Indicative prices: One Night: Single $60, double $90, Multiple Nights: Single $50, double $80, Camping $15. Dormitory: One Night: $35 per person, Multiple Nights $25 per person. All rates are subject to 17.5% government tax.
Credit cards: Visa and MasterCard. Transfers: $15
Stayed 2weeks 1994.Great food , Entertainment .Staff were really friendly & helpful.
Very relaxed .Room service & Laundry excellent.
Swimming pool was cloudy.
Air Conditioning was rattly and unreliable.
Situated by shoreline on Vuna Road.Great for early morning or late evening walks.
We stayed here for 4 nights. It's a spotlessly clean little hotel run by a german couple. The room was spacious and had a refridgerator , coffe making facilities and AC .I would definitely stay here again.
It's a short walk to the main street for restuarants . The restuarant at the hotel is very good but fancy and pricey ,as is the breakfast.
There are books you can trade in the lobby ( always a bonus for those who pack lightly) They will send a driver for airport pickup , $25.00.
Treasure Island is a "resort" on a small island about a 30 minute boat ride off the main island of Vava'u. This resort consists of 4 bugalow-type stand-alone rooms and a restaruant... nothing else. The bungalows have a self-contained toilet, shower and sink in a small bathroom area. The beds are fairly comfortable and the food at the restaurant is amazingly good. Treasure Island is owned and operated by a Marcella (a German woman) and her Tongan husband and is HIGHLY recommended. The staff is very friendly and staying there was the highlight of our Tongan experience. The negatives: no air-conditioning and if you go during the hot and humid months (March-April) like we did, it can be a bit uncomfortable when you're trying to sleep. Prices: about $75US/night, a $30US per person transportation charge [includes pick-up from airport, boat ride to the island, boat ride back to Vava'u and ride back to airport], meals are about $15US per person for dinner and includes entree, main and dessert.
The island is surrounded by reef making for great snorkeling and it has a beautiful white-sand beach. They provide kayaks free of charge so you can paddle out to do some island-exploring. Just walking around the island is a great experience, there is so much natural beauty all around. The waters are a crystal-clear blue color that I had never before seen, Hawaii, the Caribbean don't even come close to this beauty. We were lucky enough to be the only guests at the time, we had the entire island to ourselves.
As I metioned before, finding tourism information is probably the hardest thing to do in Tonga. But this hotel was recommended by the only travel agency in town. They didn't have pamphlets, photos or any other means to describe the place. So basically we took their word for it. Paradise Hotel was okay, it was pleasing to the eye from far away and a comfortable place to stay. It's also one of the few places that have airconditioning in the rooms. The staff is very friendly and the restaurant on the premise is also good, although a bit expensive. We stayed in a Harbour View unit and the view was fairly pleasing. The negatives are: no access to beaches, older hotel that needs some up-keep and remodeling, about a 15min walk to town and other restaurants.
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