The rugged nature beach shores of Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Cruise to Nuku 'Alofa, Tonga

Nuku'alofa is the bustling capital of Tonga, the only island in the South Pacific to escape colonization. Home to Tonga's royal family, the city retains a certain rustic charm — it's not uncommon to come across a wandering pig or a clutch of chickens as you stroll its buzzy streets. And in accord with its a name, which translates to "home of love," Nuku'alofa is sure to make you feel welcome with its locals' warm smiles. Get the flavor of the city at the Talamahu Market, the largest of its kind in Tonga, where vendors sell local papayas and mangoes, as well as handicrafts. Cruise to Tonga to see the Royal Palace surrounded by huge pines, and head down to the waterfront and look over the blue waters to jutting coral islands wrapped in green.
National Language English, Tongan
Currency Accepted Tongan Paʻanga (TOP)

Things To Do in Nuku 'Alofa

Ha'amonga a Maui, remnants of an ancient stoned gate, in a park in Tonga

Nuku'alofa, Tonga Powerful Waves Crashing

Watch Water Fly

Watch Water Fly

Just 30 minutes away, you'll find the Mapu'a'a Vaea Blowholes. Nicknamed "The Chief's Whistles," they're a spectacular sight to behold — layers of coral rock create pockets of pressure, shooting ocean water 30 meters into the air.

Royal Palace in Nuku'alofa on Tongatapu island, Tonga

Nuku'alofa, Tonga Royal Palace

A Pinch of Royal

A Pinch of Royal

The royal buildings are not open to the public, but you can peer in from the gates — and maybe catch a glimpse of Tonga's monarchs themselves. The Royal Palace is a colonial-style wooden building built in 1867. Don't forget to take a look at the Royal Tombs before you leave.

Sandy beach at Pangaimotu island near Tongatapu island in Tonga

Nuku'alofa, Tonga Sandy Beach Island

Island Escape

If the hustle and bustle of the city is not your style, hop on a shuttle boat to a nearby coral island. The closest is Pangaimotu Island, and it takes a mere 15 minutes to reach. Here, you'll find classic white beaches, snorkeling and even a 10-hole golf course.

Polynesian authentic and famous dish -raw fish salad with cucumber, lime, tomato and coconut milk

Nuku'alofa, Tonga Raw Fish Salad

Local Cuisine

Tongans are hunter-gatherers of the land and sea. Look out for the staple food poi, a delicious porridge made with taro root. Try lu pulu, a dish of meat and onions marinated in coconut milk and cooked in a taro leaf using an underground oven. Cruise to Nuku 'Alofa and sample the Tongan take on seafood with 'ota ika, raw fish marinated in citrus and coconut milk, or feke, grilled octopus in a creamy coconut sauce.

Background of traditional Pacific Islands tapa cloth, a barkcloth made primarily in Tonga

Nuku'alofa, Tonga Traditional Tapa Cloth


Head downtown to the Langafonua Handicrafts Center to pick up your share of Tongan goodies during your Nuku 'Alofa cruise. Keep an eye out for flamboyant traditional jewelry pieces, weaved baskets, intricate handmade carvings and items made from tapa cloth, made from the bark of mulberry trees and imprinted with traditional Tongan patterns. The Talamahu Market also has lots of great finds.

Insider's Tips
Insider's Tips
1 Pa'anga (TOP)​​​​​​​ is the local currency, but some vendors accept U.S. and Australian dollars.
2 The city is a little rustic, but you'll uncover hidden gems as you walk through the streets.
3 If you happen to be there on a Sunday, you might catch a glimpse of the royals going to church.

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