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WorldSouth PacificTonga

An online cruising guide for yachts sailing to Tonga.

20°06.451'S, 174°46.889'W Chart icon.png
Capital Nuku'alofa
Language Tongan, English
Currency Tongan Dollar or Pa'anga
Time zone (UTC+13) , DST: not observed
Calling code +676

Tonga is a Polynesian kingdom comprising 176 islands with a surface area of about 750 square kilometres scattered over 700,000 square kilometres of the South Pacific.

Tonga stretches over about 800 kilometres (500 mi) in a north-south line about a third of the distance from New Zealand to Hawaii. Tonga is south of Samoa and east of Fiji.

Cruisers entering Tonga will typically do so from the east (French Polynesia or the southern Cook Islands), or from the north (Samoa) due to the prevailing winds during the cruising season.

Sailors coming from the north will typically go to Niuatoputapu or the Vava'u Group as first stop and continue southwards. Sailors entering from the east may come in at any port, although typically those in the Vava'u Group will provide the most interest as a first stop.

Sailors may continue southwards through the groups to the Tongatapu Group and Nuku'alofa if sufficient time is available, or may continue direct from Vava'u to Fiji or ports beyond (e.g. Vanuatu or New Caledonia).


Land Information NZ
NZ82 Tonga (1:750000)


The climate is tropical; modified by trade winds; warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December). The cyclone season is from December to March.

Sources of weather forecast information:



Also see World Cruiser's Nets

Submit details of Cruiser's Nets and VHF operating/calling channels here.


Important Note: See the Unmarked Hazards list for the passage between Tonga and Fiji. (Kindly hosted by sv Ocelot)


Yachts arriving must fly the "Q" flag and the skipper must contact the Harbour Master or Customs. These officials may possibly wish to board the yacht. They will want the outward clearance form from your last port of call. Once all the fees & dues have been paid the yacht will receive an inward clearance document that allows you to visit the other islands - this document must be presented to the officials on all visited islands.

Immigration, Visas & Customs


No visas are required for nationals from The European Union, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Cook Islands, Dominica, Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia ( New Caledonia, Tahiti, Wallis & Futuna), Japan, Kirabati, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Norway, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Samoa, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Switzerland, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, The USA and Vanuatu - for stays of up to 30 days. All other visitors require a visa obtained in advance.

Visa extensions can be made by application at the Immigration Department, Nuku'alofa, Tonga (Ph: 26969 or 26970; Fax: 26971; Email The visa cost is $40 Tongan Panga per person, per month.


Firearms and ammunition MUST be declared on arrival and will be held in custody until your departure.

PETS: Dogs and birds may be destroyed. Other pets must not go ashore. Animals, birds and plants need a quarantine certificate. Fresh produce may be confiscated.

A Coastal Clearance Permit (obtained from a Customs office) is required when moving between island groups. Harbour dues must be paid at each "port" - the receipt will need to be presented at the next port. On arrival at the next island group, one must contact customs on arrival. When travelling between Nuku'alofa and Vava'u, or vice versa, one can request that the Coastal Clearance includes Ha'apai if intending to stop there.

Fees & Dues

  • Harbour Fees =
  • Light Dues =
  • Tonnage Dues =


Submit any health warnings/information



Theft from a vessel anchored stern to in the harbour occurred in 2009.

Tenders may be damaged by children if left unattended for long periods.

Lock up when you leave and do not leave valuables on show as any theft is most likely to be opportunistic.

Ports, Anchorages and Island Groups

North to South:


List transportation (local and/or international.)

Local Custom

  • Anyone appearing in public without a shirt will be fined. Dress code is very strict as is Sunday observance, when no work (even on your own boat), sporting or other strenuous activities are allowed - not even laundry should be hung out to dry. Hats should never be worn either in church, or in the presence of a person in authority or someone to whom you wish to show respect. Displaying anger or frustration is considered very bad form in Tonga.


  • Fins 'n' Flukes Diving and Whale Watching base in Pangai town are happy to provide general info to visiting cruisers. We have extensive experience in the local waters and provide free wireless internet access to cruisers. Tank fills and admin services are also available.
  • Anyone planning to visit the Ha'apai group of Tonga - please feel free to contact me, Craig Airey at for any info whatsoever. We sailed to Tonga and bought a bar/restaurant so are "cruiserfriendly".


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)




We welcome users' contributions to the Wiki. Please click on Comments to view other users' comments, add your own personal experiences or recommend any changes to this page following your visit.

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Date of member's last visit to Tonga and this page's details validated:

This is a usable page of the cruising guide. However, please contribute if you can to help it grow further. Click on Comments to add your personal notes on this page or to discuss its contents. Alternatively, if you feel confident to edit the page, click on the edit tab at the top and enter your changes directly.

SailorSmiley.gifContributors to this page

Names: Lighthouse, Finsnflukes, Delatbabel

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