Ultimate Guide to
Tongatapu, Tonga
| Tonga Travel Guide

Everything you need to know about travel to Tonga/Visiting Tongatapu

Best Restaurants in Tongatapu 
Best Cafes in Tongatapu 
Best Coffee in Tongatapu
Best Sites in Tongatapu
Best Bars in Tongatapu 
Best Places to Stay in Tongatapu
Best Beaches in Tongatapu

Your Ultimate Guide to Tongatapu! 

Tongatapu is Tonga’s main island. The history of Tonga dates way back to around 1000 BC, but Tongatapu was first found by Europeans in 1643 by Abel Tasman, and visited by Captain Cook in 1777. It’s home to Nuku’alofa, Tonga’s capital city, and about 70% of Tonga’s population. Tongatapu is longer than it is wide. It’s about 45km from East to West, and about 100km around the island. It’s a pretty flat island, with a max elevation of 28 meters above sea level. 

Check out Tonga's other islands such as 'Eua, Ha'apai, and Vava'u here. 

Whether you’re spending one day or one year in Tongatapu, there’s a fair bit for you to explore. Aside from the capital city Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu is also home to one of the largest collections of archaeological remains in the South Pacific, and you can go and look out for Lapita Pottery. 

So that’s enough of what Wikipedia and Google can tell you about Tongatapu. 

Let’s have a look at what Tongatapu is really like. From the best places to visit to the best places to eat, the best beaches to swim in to the best bars to enjoy…


Nuku’alofa is the capital city of Tonga and is home to government buildings and the palace. The city centre is pretty small, but big compared to the rest of Tonga! It has one main road running through the middle which has most of what you need, and then a few side streets coming off it. Along the pier you also have some main shops, bars, businesses, and restaurants, such as Air New Zealand and various ferry terminals. 

It’s located in the middle of Tongatapu, with the east and western tips about 30 mins drive away each. There are some great places to stay in Nuku’alofa, such as the Tanoa or Seaview Lodge - although you may also want to escape the city to one of Tongatapu’s various beaches, instead. Either way, you’re never too far from the city! 

One notable thing all around Tonga, not just Nuku’alofa, is the abundance of Chinese shops. The streets in Nuku’alofa are littered with them - and to be fair, it’s where you’ll do most of your shopping. 

Aside from the best place to get all of your goods, Nuku’alofa is also home to a great fruit and veg market next to Happy Sailor Tattoo, as well as a great market every Saturday offering everything from everything to everything… (Really, there is no way to describe what is on offer at the market that changes every week…) 

Nuku’alofa is home to government buildings including the British, New Zealand, and Australian High Commissions. 

Best Restaurants in Tongatapu 

Whilst Tonga isn’t exactly known for it’s amazing cuisine and fine dining, there are some pretty decent places here to get some good food in Tonga. Aside from local, cheaper places, below is a list of the more up-market restaurants you’ll find in Tonga. 


The fine dining of Tonga. Enjoy the best of the best in terms of fish and steak, as well as delicious traditional dishes and vegan and vegetarian dishes. Comes at a price, though! 

Indoor and outdoor seating. Veggie/Vegan friendly. 

Chef Zero

Great for taste, the atmosphere could definitely be better. Traditional Tongan dishes. Lots of fish. Western-style food also available. 

Indoor seating only. Bring your own alcohol. 

Marco’s Pizzeria 

The best pizza in Tonga? Maybe. 

Indoor seating only. 


A Chinese restaurant on the seafront offering some great meals and cheap beer.

Indoor and outdoor seating. Open Sundays.


Happy Hour drinks menu, sitting on the deck overlooking the ocean, and enjoying some fine dining. What else could you ask for?! 

Indoor and outdoor seating. Open Sundays.

The Top

Some fine dining with a view - one of the highest buildings in Tonga. 

Indoor and outdoor seating. 

Katea Retreat 

A resort/retreat/restaurant located on the eastern tip of the island. Take a day trip to the beach and enjoy some beers and a burger - or stay the night, too! 

Outdoor seating only. Open Sundays. 

Luna Rosa

Italian restaurant located on the lagoon. Secluded and quiet - very romantic! 

Indoor seating only. 

Frangipani Korean Restaurant

Korea meets Tonga! 

Frangipani offers a great range of Korean foods, and a very authentic Korean atmosphere! 

Read more on Restaurants in Tonga. 

Best Cafes in Tongatapu 


A favourite with the locals and expats alike, and possible one of the most popular and well-known cafes in Tonga. 

Indoor and outdoor seating. 

Escape Cafe

Air-conditioned and veggie/vegan friendly. 

Indoor seating and limited outdoor seating.

Coffee Post 

Sit outside and watch the world go by. Healthy options. 

Indoor and outdoor seating. Indoor seating limited. 

Juice Bar Tonga 

Smoothie time! 

Takeaway only. 


A hidden gem deep in the bush, grows and produces own coffee.

Indoor and outdoor seating. 

Young’s Kitchen

Korean Cafe in Town 

Indoor seating only. 

Read more about the Best Cafes in Tonga. 

Best Coffee in Tonga

There isn’t all that much choice of coffee in Tonga, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some good coffee places around.

There are two main homegrown coffee companies in Tonga, Tupu’anga and Kingdom Koffie.

You can either buy your own beans of these and brew at home, or head to a few of the cafes in Tonga to find your favourite brew. 

Read more about Coffee in Tonga here. 

Best Sites in Tongatapu

Tongatapu is pretty small, and actually, if you only have one day, you can visit all of these pretty much in that time… Make sure you rent a car and fill it with petrol, buy some waters, pack some food, and you’re good to go for the day! 

Tsunami Rock 

A big rock thrown up onto the land by a big wave. Climb up it if you dare! 


‘The Stonehenge of the Pacific’, one of the most famous spots in Tonga, and is one of the first places in the world to see the sunrise. It makes for some great photos. 

Captain Cook’s Landing Spot 

Where Captain Cook landed all those years ago. 

Anahulu Caves

Bring a torch and go deep into the cool caves, see what you can find… 

3-Headed Coconut Tree

The clue is in the name. Think there’s more to it? Think again. 

Hufangalupe Landing Bridge

Offering amazing views, a secret beach, and… more amazing views. 


Make some time for this place. Hundreds of blowholes along Tongatapu’s west coast fill up with water and the pressure from the waves coming in blasts large streams of water into the sky, reaching up to 30 meters in height. 

Flying Foxes Area

Around the Kanokupolu/Nukunuku village area, but in reality you can see flying foxes all round the island. 

Abe Tasman Landing Spot

Abel Tasman’s landing spot is where the first European, Abel Tasman, landed in Tonga. It’s on the western tip of the island and offers some great views. 

Read about visiting Tonga’s best sites in one day here

Best Bars in Tonga 

There are fewer bars than restaurants and cafes in Tonga for sure… There really is just about as many as fingers I have on my hand. Nevertheless, there are a couple of decent bars in Tonga you can wind down in at the end of a hard day’s sightseeing. 


Best bar in Tonga? Most would say so, and I certainly do, too!

Nauti Rubys

Tonga’s only large “club” that you’ll probably regret going to but definitely shouldn’t miss out on! 

Located a short walk from Billfish. 


A smaller bar but located right in the centre of town. Shared owner with Pacific Brewing, the local beer brewery in Tonga, so try some local beers on tap! 


Yes, it’s in the restaurant list. But yes, they have amazing cocktails. And a perfect happy hour. 

The Top

Again, one in the restaurant list, but apart from the fact that there aren’t that many real “bars” in Tonga, this is also a really nice place to have a few classy cocktails on an evening - especially when happy hour is on. 

Read more on Tonga's bars here

Best Places to Stay in Tongatapu

Coming soon…

Best Beaches in Tongatapu

Coming soon…

Best Event Nights in Tonga 

Coming soon…

Best Place to Shop in Tonga

Coming soon…

Best Tongan Foods to Try in Tonga

Coming soon…

Best Day Trips from Tongatapu

Coming soon…

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