Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia Tonga Nuku'alofa



Old palace of king

Old palace of king

© Sander938

Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofo (Tongan for Abode of Love), is a sprawling town of some 30,000 inhabitants, roughly a third of Tonga's population. The town's highlight is the old Royal Palace which, although not open to the public, can easily be seen from the waterfront.



Sights and Activities

  • The Tongan Royal Palace is a colonial style building dating back to the late 19th century.
  • Talamahu market



Events and Festivals

  • The Heilala Festival is held in the first week of July and on July 12, the King's birthday.
  • Easter Festival




Nuku'alofa has pleasantly warm but humid tropical climate. Daytime temperatures are around 30 °C while night are still wel above 20 °C. The wet season lasts from November to April while the period from May to October sees less rain and more sun. Still, some heavy showers are possible during this time but it is the best time to visit Nuku'alofa if you want to avoid most of the rainy days.



Getting There

By Plane

Fua'amotu International Airport (TBU) is located 35 km out of Nuku'alofa on the the southern coast of Tongatapu Island.

Air New Zealand is the main airline with connections from New Zealand, Australia, Samoa and Los Angeles. Fiji Airways offer services from Nadi and Suva in Fiji (and to many other international locations via Fiji). Pacific Blue have flights from Australia and New Zealand.

Domestic flights are offered by Peau Vava'u (to Ha'apai and Vava'u) and Airlines Tonga (to Eua, Ha'apai, Nuiafo'ou, Nuiatoputapu and Vava'u)

A taxi into town will cost roughly T$25. Unfortunately there is no public transport, but guesthouses and resorts usually offer meet and greet services on request.

By Car

Tongatapu can just about be seen in one day by car or motorbike. You can rent cars and motor scooters. A Tongan driver's license for T$25 is available and can be obtained at the police department with your home license.There are few road signs on Tongatapu so you'll need a good map if you're touring in a car. The speed limit on most of the island is 50 kph and this is stuck to by the local drivers. The Police have radar guns to check. The roads are good in and around Nuku'alofa but deteriorate the further from the town and the further south you travel.You can hire a car from the Friend's Tourist Centre (near the main post office) for about 50 Pa'anga and a tour of the island is about 120 km.

Many cars on the island are in a terrible state, maintained on a budget and held together by a combination of 'Western Union' stickers and prayer. The low speed limit helps to keep accidents down. However, in recent years there have been a large number of imports of reconditioned Japanese cars and the general quality of vehicles is improving. Available cars for rent are good.

Teta Tours and Toni's guest house offer day tours of all the main tourist sights (40-80 Pa'anga depending on how many are on the tour).

By Bus

Buses to various points on Tongatapu run from the bus concourse on the seafront in Nuku'alofa although there are no timetables posted and local sources say that they are not reliable after about 1530 hours on most days. With few bus stops you just stand on the side of the road and flag the driver down (do not wave, they will wave back and keep driving). The most popular buses in Tonga are generally the loudest, so when you want to get off a reasonably loud "STOP" will do it (again, just anywhere you want them to stop). If you don't like kids or crowds avoid the buses at the end-of-school time, they get packed out and the only limit on how many people in a bus is how many can fit in. The general cost of getting from Nuku`alofa to the surfing destination of Ha`atafu on the western peninsula is roughly T$2.20.



Getting Around

Nuku'alofa is small enough to walk around and taxis are available. (You can take a bus from around the terminal, but the bus is unreliable, taxi is a better option). You can go by boat to the small islands around Nuku'alofa from the pier.




For a small town, Nuku'alofa offers a decent range of restaurants and bars. Expect to pay 15-40 Pa'anga for a main course in a restaurant and about 5 Pa'anga for a takeaway at one of the roadside sellers. Seafood is usually good.

Most restaurants and eateries are closed on Sunday but there are a couple of Chinese restaurants.




Keep Connected


WiFi hotspots are how people connect to the Internet in Tonga and you should expect slow connection speed, data limits and high prices.


See also International Telephone Calls

Tonga's international telephone code is 676. Telecommunications in Tonga are handled by two operators; Digicel Tonga and Tonga Communications Corporation. The latter operates a 900 MHz GSM-network.


Tonga Post handles international and domestic mail in the country.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: -21.136009
  • Longitude: -175.2164

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This is version 13. Last edited at 3:09 on Aug 2, 17 by sleepBot. 5 articles link to this page.

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