Some things to keep in mind when traveling to Tonga...
Tonga is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, directly south of Western Samoa and about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand. Its 176 islands, 36 of them inhabited, are divided into three main groups – Vava'u, Ha'apai, and Tongatapu – and cover a 500-mile-long north-south line. The largest island, Tongatapu, on which the capital city of Nukuʻalofa is located, covers 99 square miles.
Tonga has a uniquely benign climate with an average annual daytime temperature a comfortable 75ºF. In the summer from December to April the temperatures are warmer and more humid and the winter months from May to November are cooler and dryer. Overall Tonga enjoys a climate that is extremely comfortable and pleasant year around. Anytime of the year is a perfect time to visit and enjoy this unique pacific island Kingdom and all it has to offer.
Visitors from the United States do not need a visa to enter Tonga (for a period of no longer than 31 days. However, do make sure your passport is valid throughout the duration of your visit.
Tipping is not usual in Tonga; however if you appreciate the service feel free to leave something.
Routine vaccinations are needed, while hepatitis A & B, and typhoid are recommended.
Currency & Exchange, Credit Cards, and Banking
The Tongan dollar is the Pa’anga and comes in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 & $100 dollar denominations. While most major credit cards are accepted in Tonga and there are over 200 EFTPOS outlets, it is important to note that Tonga is essentially a cash society and all visitors should make sure they have sufficient funds to pay for services. There are no credit or EFTPOS facilities to pay for excess baggage at the domestic airports for example and many cafes and guest houses only accept cash, also Taxi drivers often claim not to have change so small denomination notes are a good idea. Main centers have banking and money exchange facilities provided by ANZ, Westpac, Western Union, Moneygram and Meli-mei-langi. There are also numerous ATM machines in the town centers.
In more recent times, Tonga has also been strongly influenced by Christianity and now probably boasts more churches per head of population than anywhere else on earth. The islands resonate with hymns and harmonies every Sunday, a day of rest by law on the islands, and visitors are welcome to attend the services. Many do and leave with special memories of the experience.
Westbound flights appear to be the worst for jet lag but many people report feelings of jet lag with any long haul flights. To prevent feeling the worse for wear when you arrive at your destination try the following tips: Be well rested before boarding your flight, drink plenty of fluids and cut back on the alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, try to exercise by stretching in your seat or strolling the isle. One of the best tips is to try to set your body clock to your destination’s time while in flight. Waiting until you land can leave you literally in the wrong time zone.
What to Pack
Tongan law prohibits anyone appearing in public without a shirt and it is not acceptable to wear revealing clothing such as brief shorts or skirts, bikinis etc in public or when swimming at public beaches. While this dress is acceptable at resorts it is not acceptable in public as adult Tongans swim fully clothed.
A good camera