Tongatapu is a flat island which makes it ideal for exploration by bike. You can rent bikes from Niko’s Bicycle Rentals which is located in Nuku’alofa near the Dateline Hotel. Bicycles can be rented for $10 a day. Taina’s Place on Eua can also organise bicycle’s for rent, but the standard of these bikes is not great.
Hitch a Lift!
One of the joys of Eua is hiking around the island which is just as well because there is very little other transport options. However if you are stuck and it starts to rain or you simply have enough walking done, you could chance hitching a lift. There aren’t too many cars on the roads of Eua but we did manage to hutch a lift in the back of a pick-up truck from a friendly Eua local who took pity on us as we got stuck in heavy rain on the way back from a hike in the south of the island!
We had planned on hiring a car in Tonga but it turned out to be trickier than we had anticipated. The problem with hiring a car in Tonga is that you first obtain a Tongan Driver’s Licence from the Ministry of Transport in Nuku’alofa which is located at the Dupincia Lodge, Ma’ufanga (next door to ‘Apifo’ou College and opposite Kuini Salote Wharf). Once you produce your national driver’s you will be issued a Tongan driver’s licence...once you hand over a $60 fee!
For people deciding to rent a car driving is on the left in Tonga and speed limits are set at 40kmph in built up areas and 60kmph between villages. You will also have to contend with somewhat careless drivers, wandering animals and bumpy roads. Enjoy!
Below are some Tongatapu rental companies with telephone and email contacts
Avis 21179 email@example.com
Fab Rentals 23077 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jones Rentals 29917 email@example.com
New Millenium 30344 firstname.lastname@example.org
Pasifika Rentals 27718 email@example.com
Jetsave Rentals 22333 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunshine Rentals 23848 email@example.com
Boats to Pangaimotu, Fafa and Atata
Transfers to Fafa, Atata and Pangaimotu can be arranged either through Friends Cafe, your accommodation or you can head down to the jetty yourself to try and organise a transfer. Pangaimotu is the cheapest island to get to and transfers shouldn’t cost more than $30. Fafa is far more expensive at $120 but includes a lunch on the island. Royal Sunset is the most expensive of the islands. There is a dinner option including transfers but I’m not sure of the price. Friends Cafe can book this for you if you are interested.
Ferry to Eua
Two ferries ply the bumpy route through Tongatapu’s Lagoon to Eua and back. The Tongatapu – Eua ferry runs on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday while the Eua – Tongatapu ferry runs Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Monday. No fery runs either way on Sundays. The fare for the journey is about TOP$27 each way and you can buy your ticket directly at the jetty. The ferry leaves from the Faua Jetty on Vuna Rd. in Nuku’alofa and from Ononua Jetty on Eua.
Bear in mind that while the Tongatapu – Eua ferry leaves at the reasonable hour of 12.30 the return ferry from Eua leaves between 5.00 and 5.30am! It does give you the chance to be one of the first people in the world to herald the start of a new day!
Getting around Tongatapu by bus is an art perfected over time. There is no state run public bus service. All buses running all routes are privately owned and times are at the discretion of the driver.
Bus services usually start at about 7am and end around 5pm. To be sure of catching a bus back into town you must leave yourself plenty of time to catch the bus. You should be on the road by 3.30 at the latest to catch a bus back to town.
Buses serving the east and west of the island operate from opposite the Ministry of Education Building on Vuna road in Nuku’alofa. Buses serving the hospital and town area operate from outside the Visitors Bureau, also on Vuna Rd.
Prices of the bus journeys range from $1 to $2.20 depending on distance travelled.
For tourists the most convenient services are Lapaha (for royal tombs) on the eastern route ($1.90) and Houma (for blowholes $1.35) and Ha’atafu (for beach $2.20)
Chathams Pacific is Tonga’s domestic airline and has routes connecting Tongatapu with Eua, Ha’apai and Vava’u directly. It also has direct services between Ha’apai and Vava’u and a direct service between Vava’u and The Niuas.
The flight between Tongatapu and Eua is one of the world’s shortest scheduled air services with a flight time of about 8 minutes!
Prices and timetable are shown below and are taken from Chathams website on 29/10/10
'Eua - Tongatapu EUA – TBU from $74 Daily
Ha'apai - Tongatapu HPA – TBU from $150 Daily
Ha'apai - Vavau HPA – VAV from $139 3/4 weekly
Niuafo'ou - Tongatapu NFO - TBU via VAV from $513 Fortnightly
Niuafo'ou - Vava'u NFO – VAV from $281 Fortnightly
Niuatoputapu - Tongatapu NTT - TBU via VAV from $473 Weekly
Niuatoputapu - Vava'u NTT – VAV from $241 Weekly
Tongatapu - 'Eua TBU – EUA from $74 Twice Daily
Tongatapu - Ha'apai TBU – HPA from $150 Daily
Tongtapu - Niuafo'ou TBU - NFO via VAV from $513 Fortnightly
Tongtapu - Niuatoputapu TBU - NTT via VAV from $473 Weekly
Tongatapu - Vava'u TBU – VAV from $239 Daily
Vava'u - Ha'apai VAV – HPA from $139 3 or 4 weekly
Vava'u - Niuafo'ou VAV – NFO from $281 Fortnightly
Vava'u - Niuatoputapu VAV – NTT from $241 Weekly
Vava'u - Tongatapu VAV – TBU from $239 Daily
*prices include all taxes
Chathams have an office on Vuna Road in Nuku’alofa
Flying to Tonga
Most people visiting Tonga arrive by plane into Fua’amotu International Airport which is located 21km south of Nuku’alofa. There are several options for flying to Tonga but the most popular and cheapest route is via Auckland with Air New Zealand.
Other airlines serve Tonga but are not as cheap of frequent.
Air Pacifc connects Tonga with direct flights to Fiji (3 weekly), and has flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Tonga via Fiji. Air Pacific also has flights from Honolulu and Los Angeles to Tonga (3 weekly)
Pacific Blue connects Tonga with Sydney and Auckland (2 weekly)
Air New Zealand connects Tonga with Auckland (5 weekly) Air New Zealand also has connection options to Tonga from Australia, London, Los Angeles and Samoa.
**Important Info** Domestic Flights in Tonga
The only airline operating in Tonga at the moment is Chathams Pacific. The locally owned airline, Airlines Tonga has closed shop and stopped operating, leaving hundreds of people stranded. People are still arriving in Tonga with tickets on Airlines Tonga, only to find out they are no longer operating. They then have to buy new tickets with Chathams Pacific.
Chathams Pacific is a NZ owned company, owned and operated by Air Chathams Ltd. They have NZ trained pilots, engineers and managers. They operate a Convair, Metroliner and Islander. They operate an excellent reliable service from Tongatapu to Vavau, Eua and Haa'pai, with flights soon to commence to the Nuias.Related to:
- Whale Watching
WE had our hotel have a taxi driver for us at the airport . We had a late flight and it felt more secure . It cost us $25.00 T. for the two . It would have been cheaper to just catch a cab when we arrived.
There are lots of taxis available in Tongatapu.Related to:
- Religious Travel
You can rent a car in Tonga, there are a few companies to choose from . The rate is about $40.00 per dat. To drive in Tonga you will need to obtain a Tongan driving licence from the Police Station in Nukualofa. There is no test - just a fee of T$15 and a hour or so wait.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Family Travel
We usually fly out of Seattle...
We usually fly out of Seattle to LA, then onto Hawaii, then it's a straight 7-8 hour flight to Tonga!
I would recomend getting a rental car. You can get a taxi, but they can generally get you to a destination (like a beach), but it may be difficult getting back. Hmm?
You can also do the bus or bike thing too. You can rent a bike for about T$20 a day.
You don't have much choice...
You don't have much choice actually. Royal Tongan Airlines fly up from Auckland every day except Sunday.
Flying between the islands is the best and quickest way to go. Royal Tongan Airlines link all the main towns. They are remarkably efficient and look after travellers very well. All my flights were spot on time.
The only was of getting there...
The only was of getting there is through Fiji, Hawaii or LA (from the US). We couldn't go through Fiji because of the political unrest there at the time, so we went LA to Honolulu to Pago Pago to Apia to Tonga.
Royal Tongan Airlines is the only way. Teriffic service and extremely friendly and helpful personnel.
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Good for: Families
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