The climate is Tropical. There are two seasons - the dry season (May to November) and wet season (December to April, of which February and April are the rainiest months). November to March is cyclone season.
When to fly to Tonga
The dry season (May to November) is high season on Tonga when most visitors arrive on cheap flights to Tonga. December and January are also very busy months as this is when Tongans return home from Australia, New Zealand and the US. For yachting, May to October is peak season and for whale watching, it's July to October.
February-April is the wettest - and most humid - time of year on Tonga and this is the low season. November to March is cyclone season.
Getting around Tonga
Chathams Pacific flies domestically, linking Nuku’alofa with Vava’u, Ha’apai and Eua. There are private buses that run from early in the morning to late evening. Ferries link Tongatapu with Ha’apai and Vava’u. Taxis are plentiful, easily recognisable by the "T" on their license plates. It's best to settle on a fare before you set off. If you're taking a taxi from Fua'amotu Airport to downtown Nuku’alofa, the fare is approximately TOP$40 (about $23 AU). A taxi around Nuku’alofa can cost up to $6 (approximately $3.50). Bicycles are available to rent in Nuku’alofa, Vava’u and Ha’apai.
If you wish to rent a car you'll need a local driver’s license. The cost is about TOP$60 (about $34 AU) and licenses are available at the Ministry of Transport in Tongatapu or from the Police Station in Vava’u. There are several rental-car companies in Nuku’alofa and a couple in Nelafu on Vava'u.
Tonga insider information
- Tipping is not expected in Tonga, although Tongans will not be offended if visitors wish to reward good service.
- Tonga is a very traditional society - Sunday is the day of rest, after all - and it's best to keep covered up. Knees should be covered and men should only go shirtless on the beach.
- Located just west of the International Dateline, Tonga is the first Pacific nation to see the sun each day.
- There are some important archaeological sites on Nuku’alofa such as the Ha'amonga 'a Maui, a megalithic monument, and the langi, royal burial tombs.
- Ota ika is a seafood speciality. It's raw fish marinated in lemon and coconut cream. Lu pulu is another popular dish. It's corned beef and coconut milk in taro leaves cooked in an underground oven.
- Eua Island, 40km off Tongatapu's south coast, is a great place to go hiking. It has the largest tracts of virgin rainforest in Tonga.
- The best beaches are to be found on the Ha'apai Islands, but there's much more to do here than just top up your tan. There are scuba diving, snorkelling or, between July and November, watching the Humpback Whales.
- Vava'u, composed of 72 islands (just 20 inhabited), is a popular place for yachties to moor. It's sea-sports paradise with scuba diving, game fishing, sea kayaking and whale-watching (July to October) on offer.
- Most northern, the Niuas - Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou - are isolated volcanic islands, where the traditional customs and culture thrive.