Fafa Island Fafa Island beach – Image courtesy of fafaislandresort.com

How to get around Tonga

Flying is the easiest, quickest and most comfortable way to get around the islands of Tonga.

Ferries also operate between the three main island groups – Vava'u, Ha'apai and Tongatapu – as well as ‘Eua.

Taxis and hire cars are available only on Tongatapau.

Transport options in Tonga

Air: Real Tonga (realtonga.to) operates most of the domestic flights across Tonga. Fiji Airways also offers flights between Nuku'alofa and Vava'u, as a code-share flight with Real Tonga.

There are airports with scheduled commercial flights on the islands of ‘Eua, Ha’apai and Vava’u, all of which are connected with Fua’amotu International Airport (TBU) – Tonga’s main airport and international gateway, located on the main island of Tongatapua, around 22km (13mi) from Nukuʻalofa, the capital city.

Tongatapu to Vava’u takes 60 minutes, with daily flights; Tongatapu to Ha’apai takes 40 minutes, with daily flights; Tongatapu to ‘Eua takes 10 minutes, with daily flights.

Ha’apai to Vava’u takes 30 minutes, with frequent weekly flights; Vava’u to Niuafo’ou takes 90 minutes, with fortnightly flights; and Vava’u to Niuatoputapu takes 70 minutes, with weekly flights.

Flights are scheduled to work in with arriving and departing international flights.

Note: There are no flights on Sundays, and flights schedules change frequently. You should re-confirm your booking as close as possible to your departure time, then arrive at the airport early – otherwise you may find yourself missing your flight.

Sea: There are regular weekly sailings from Faua Wharf in Nuku'alofa, to Ha'apai, Vava'u and ’Eua, including Nuku’alofa to Pangai (Ha’apai); Pangai (Ha’apai) to Neiafu (Vava’u); Nuku’alofa to Neiafu (Vava’u); Neiafu (Vava’u) to Niuatoputapu (Niuas); Neiafu (Vava’u) to Niuafo’ou (Niuas); and Nuku’alofa to ’Eua.

Ferry schedules are subject to change according to demand and the weather. Visit Friendly Island Shipping Agency (fisa.to/index.php/home) for the latest ferry schedules and fares.

Tickets are sold either at the ferry terminal or on board – you need to get there an hour before sailing.

Water taxis also operate between islands, and private yacht charters are available.

On land

Tonga has a good network of paved roads. Roads in Nukuʻalofa are in good condition, but deteriorate the further you travel out of the city.

Traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road. The minimum driving age is 18. Speed limits are 30kph (19mph) on roads around schools and pedestrian areas, 50kph (31mph) on main roads and 70kph (43mph) in quieter rural areas.

Note: you must give way to vehicles that are turning right.

Car hire: Self-drive and chauffeur-driven cars are available from various agencies.

A Tongan visitor driver's licence is required, available from the Ministry of Transport in Nuku'alofa on production of a valid national or international licence.

Taxi: Saloon-car taxis, minimokes and minibuses are available. Taxis are identify by the letter 'T' at the beginning of their licence plate. Taxis aren't metered, so make sure you agree the fare before departure.

Taxis are easy to find on Tongatapu and Vava’u.

Bus: Buses can be a fun way to get around the island. If you see one passing, you can wave it down.

Buses – identify by the letter 'B' at the start of their licence plates – operate on Tongatapu, and in a more limited capacity on Vava’u.

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Latest update: How to get around Tonga: 13 June, 2020

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