General Money Entry Requirements Health & safety Weather Embassies Etiquette Public Holidays Attractions Map
Referred to by Captain Cook as 'The Friendly Islands', Tonga spreads south of Samoa for 500 miles (800km); the 170-odd islands of the country comprise the Pacific's last monarchy and the only Pacific nation never to be colonised. Proud of their history, Tongan culture runs deep on the inhabited islands making Tonga a wonderful travel destination for those wanting a taste of authentic indigenous Polynesian culture along with their dose of tropical beach bliss.
After a brief period of riots and political turmoil in 2006, when the locals rose up in protest against a new monarch notorious for his lavish lifestyle, Tonga has now reverted to its former peaceful, laid-back state. Although the country remains a constitutional monarchy there has been a certain amount of democratic reform in recent years. Tonga is considered a safe and stable travel destination with low crime rates and a welcoming population.
Tonga is a choice destination for watersports enthusiasts and a tranquil retreat for those needing a break from the crush of modern urban life. Yacht charters are popular for exploring the islands of Vava'u and Neiafu. Diving off coral reefs or snorkelling close to shore is available for beginners and experts on many of the islands. Tonga is also a celebrated surfing destination, but the reef breaks typical of the islands are not suitable for beginners. The presence of humpback whales in Tongan waters make it a sought-after winter holiday destination as well.
The Tongan people are friendly and the culture generally relaxed, with traditional Christian values predominating, alongside older Polynesian customs. The capital and commercial centre of Nukualofa is a representation of this, with a blend of western and traditional influence evident in the vibrant markets thriving alongside crumbling colonial buildings and numerous churches. The capital city is on the main island of Tongatapu, which is home to about 70 percent of the population, but although travellers usually arrive at Nukualofa they are generally quick to seek out the less populated islands where pristine beaches and laid-back resorts beckon. Despite the obvious appeal of the archipelago as a travel destination, both culturally and scenically, Tonga remains largely unblemished by large-scale tourist development and has not been 'discovered' by package tourists. This may be discouraging for those looking for luxury but the ultimately unpolished nature of the islands is the main charm for many visitors.
The official languages are Tongan and English.
Visitors to Tonga over the age of 18 may freely import 250 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of loose tobacco; and 2.25 litres of spirits or 4.5 litres of wine or beer. All plant and animal products must be declared.
Electrical current in Tonga is 220 - 240 volts, 50Hz. Australian-style plugs with three rectangular prongs are standard.
Despite the huge distance from the north of the country to the south, the climate in Tonga is relatively steady, with only mild differences in temperature between the warm Vava'u and Niuas and the noticeably cooler Eua. The climate in Tonga is divided between the dry season (May to October) and the wet season (November to April), with temperatures maintaining an average of 78°F (26°C) throughout the year. March is the wettest month in Tonga, and most rain falls at night, with hot, humid days. Tropical storms in Tonga are most likely to occur between November and March. The best time to travel to Tonga is during the dry season, when most of the festivals are held. While prices generally stay steady throughout the year, tourists travelling to Tonga in the December to January holiday period should book flights and accommodation well in advance.
Visitors must hold documents and tickets for their return/onward journey and sufficient funds to cover their stay. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
US citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond intended travel. A visa is required. American citizens can obtain a tourist visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days.
UK citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond intended travel. A visa is required. British citizens can obtain a 'visitors visa' for touristic purposes on arrival; the visa is valid for 31 days.
Canadian citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond intended travel. A visa is required. Canadians can obtain a tourist visa on arrival; the visa is valid for 31 days.
Australian citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond intended travel. A visa is required. Tourist visa are available to Australians upon arrival in Tonga, these visas are valid for 31 days.
SA citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond intended travel. A visa is required.
Irish citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond intended travel. A visa is required. Irish nationals are able to get a 'visitors visa' on arrival in Tonga, these visas are valid for 31 days. Visitors must hold documents and tickets for their return/onward journey and sufficient funds to cover their stay.
NZ citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond intended travel. A visa is required. New Zealand citizens can obtain a 'visitors visa' on arrival, for touristic purposes. Visitors visas are are valid for 31 days. Visitors must hold documents and tickets for their return/onward journey and sufficient funds to cover their stay.
Yellow fever vaccinations are required for all travellers arriving from infected areas in Africa or the Americas but are not otherwise recommended. Vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A and hepatitis B and those eating outside of resorts and hotels might want to consider a vaccination for typhoid.
Tap water should only be drunk if it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected.
Medical facilities are limited in Tonga and comprehensive travel health insurance is advised. Travellers should take all required medication with them.
* For current safety alerts, please visit Foreign travel advice - GOV.UK or Travel.State.Gov
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Embassies of Tonga
Foreign Embassies in Tonga
Tonga is predominantly Christian and locals are generally very conservative. Modest dress is expected outside of hotels. When greeting a stranger, a handshake is appropriate; however, family members will press their noses together and exhale loudly. It is acceptable to eat with your hands, and it is customary to wash your hands before and after the meal. Sundays are reserved mainly for religious worship and many restaurants and shops will be closed. Homosexuality is technically illegal and the law is occasionally enforced - same-sex partners should avoid public displays of affection.
Public Holidays in Tonga
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