Tonga Transport, Pacific Islands

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Tonga Transport

Image Source: Sarah Kelemen. Hibiscus flower in Tonga
Hibiscus flower in Tonga
cc Sarah Kelemen

Travel to Tonga is by air but after you arrive there are many different transport options: Taxi, Bus, Private Car or Boat.

To get between island groups, you basically have to fly (or sail). Real Tonga Airline operates between the major islands, with flights from Tongatapu to 'Eua, Ha'apai, and Vava'u and from Vava'u to Niuafo'ou and Niuatoputapu. The flight from Tongatapu to 'Eua is, at eight minutes, said to be the world's shortest scheduled flight.

Air – The fastest way to get around Tonga is by air, but be warned, as flights can be rescheduled, delayed or cancelled at short notice due to extreme weather conditions. There are also no flights in Tonga on Sundays.

Chathams Pacific Airlines operate Monday through Saturday – Telephone number is +676 28 000.

Tongatapu is host to the International Airport.

Eua – Flight time: 20 minutes from Tongatapu – Daily.

Ha'apai – Flight time: 30 minutes from Tongatapu or Vava'u – Daily from Tongatapu.

Vava'u – Flight time: 55 minutes from Tongatapu or 30 minutes from Ha'apai Frequency: Daily or twice daily from Tongatapu.

The Niua's – Niuafo'ou and Niuatoputapu – Flight time: Please inquire. Frequency: Once a week departing from Vava'u for both destinations.

Boat – Islands nearby to the main island can be reached by boats which depart from the Queen Salote Domestic Wharf. A few passenger ferries operate services between the main island groups. Most island resorts offer boat transfers to their overnight guests and day visitors.

Bus – There is a decent bus service on Tongatapu, elsewhere bus service is a bit limited – buses run infrequently or only of there are enough passengers. In the urban areas of Tongatapu there are bus stops, in other areas, flag down the bus by waving.

Private Car – Driving is on the left hand side and cars can be hired on Tongataou and Vava'u. Car hire can be arranged with private owners on other islands. If you do hire a car, you will need to purchase a Tongan driving licence.

The speed limit is usually 40kph and this is stuck to by the local drivers. The roads are good in and around Nuku'alofa but deteriorate the further from the town and the further south you travel. Most cars in Tonga 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.

Taxi – Can be recognised by a 'T' at the beginning of the licence plate. Always agree on the fare before you get into the taxi and be sure to carry some change with you. To get around the main island, Tongatapu, Teta Tours and Toni's guest house offer day tours of all the main tourist sights.

Motorbikes, scooters and cycles can be rented on Tongatapu, Vava'u and Ha'apai.

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