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Earth : Oceania : Polynesia : Tonga : Ha'apai
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Ha'apai is an island group of about 60 islands in Tonga, south of the Vava'u group and north of Tongatapu. Only 20 islands are constantly inhabited. Close to one of the islands, Tofua, in the west of the group, is where the Mutiny on the Bounty occurred in 1789. The total population is approximately 5,500, out of which 2,500 live on the main island of Pangai. There are plenty of sandy beaches plus good diving and snorkelling and the opportunity to see some whales. But, basically, Ha'apai is a place to relax and get away from the rat race.

The Rush Hour in downtown Pangai

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

International flights arrive on Tongatapu from Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.

The domestic carrier is Real Tonga Airlines Real Tonga

  • Real Tonga (Tongan owned and operated), Tungi Colonnade, Taufa'ahau Road, Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu (All domestic terminals), +676 23777 (), [1]. Mon - Fri ( 0830 - 1700 ) Sat ( 0830 - 1400 ). please enquire.  edit

Chathams Pacific ceased operating in Tonga in March 2013.

By ferry[edit]

The MV Outuanga'ofa [2] travels once a week from Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu to Pangai, usually departing on Monday and arriving on Tuesday. It makes a return journey to Nuku’alofa on Wednesday evening.

Get around[edit]

  • Rent a bicycle. These can be rented at Fins 'n' Flukes and Mariner's Cafe.


  • Humpback Whales (July to October), 0067660051, [3]. 6. Humpback whale watching trips, swimming with the whales is possible at their discretion. Good swimming and snorkeling abilities are required. T$250.  edit
  • Lotofoa Methodist Church has a beautifully carved coconut wood ceiling.
  • Ancient Petroglyphs have recently been discovered at the northern end of Foa Island.
  • Uiha Island. Southwest of Pangai, and just a short boat ride. The island was once the site of the royal burial grounds and has the remains of burial pyramids.
  • Volcanic islands. Hire a boat to go to Tofua volcanic island. A steep one hour climb leads to great views of the crater and nearby Kao island. This cannot be done in a day, requires serious planning and is expensive.
  • Poseidons Gate stand on the great rock terraces on the east side of Lifuka Island.
  • Rev. Shirley Baker grave. The Reverend Shirley Baker went to Tonga in 1860 as a Wesleyan missionary and eventually ended up as Prime Minister. His grave is on Pangai.


  • Snorkelling and diving.PADI-accredited diving is offered by Fins n Flukes, who are based on Pangai [4]. Ha'apai has some huge sea caves, tunnels, drop-offs, walls, bommies and coral gardens.
  • Snorkeling (with Fins 'n' Flukes), Lifuka Island (2KM North of Pangai), 0067660051 (), [5]. Boat snorkel tours available, there is a snorkel reef right in front of the resort. Hammocks for house guests. T$120.  edit
  • SCUBA Diving (with Fins 'n' Flukes), Pangai, Lifuka Island (2km North from the main town), 60051 (), [6]. 9am to 2pm. $T245 inc all equipment.  edit
  • Hire a boat for a day from one of the dive schools and explore some of the many small islands in the Ha’apai group.
  • Whale watching. Humpback whales migrate to Tonga every year. They arrive in Ha’apai around July and stay to early November. The sound of their singing can be heard in the water and you may even be lucky to be diving as one of these giants cruises past. But even if you are not a diver the two dive centers and Ha'apai Whale and Sail(Mariner's Cafe) organize whale-watching trips.
  • Whale Watching (with Fins 'n' Flukes), Pangai, Lifuka Island (2km North from the main town), 60051 (), [7]. 9am to 3pm. T$250.  edit
  • Kayaking. Sea kayaks are available from Fins 'n' Flukes.


  • Suncream (at Fins 'n' Flukes), Lifuka Island (2 KM North of the main town of Pangai), 60051 (), [8]. 8 to 5. various.  edit

Locally produced handicraft - avoid buying items protected by CITIES legislation.



  • Fins 'n' Flukes, Great food and cold drinks by the beach on Lifuka Island. (20 minute walk North from Pangai), 60051 (), [9]. lunch 12 to 3, dinner from 6 to 8. Pre-booking required for non house guests. Bikes and snorkel gear for hire. $18-$26 for mains.  edit

Mariner's Cafe - central Pangai. Wide selection of tasty meals including home-made pasta, pizza, burgers,fish and daily specials. Ice cold alcoholic beverages available.Mariner's is THE meeting place for travellers and can provide tourist information. Also has bikes and snorkelling gear for hire.


  • Fins 'n' Flukes, Lifuka Island (2KM North of Pangai), 0067660051 (), [10]. Fruit smoothies by the beach.  edit
  • Mariner's Cafe, Pangai. Bar and cafe  edit


There is a range of accommodation on the Ha'apai islands, from budget to luxurious. Note that payment in cash is usually preferred and some of the smaller places do not accept credit cards.


  • Evaloni Guest House, (in the main town of Lifuka). Doesn't exist, burned.  edit
  • Fifita's Guest House, (676) 60213. . (, fax: (676) 60374). Nine rooms in the center of town. Bicycles can be rented here. T$35-40 for a double.  edit
  • Lindsay's Guest House, (in Lifuka), (676) 60107.. Ha'apai's largest guest house, with 12 rooms. T$30-45 for a double.  edit
  • Diana's Resort, Uoleva (Uoleva), (676). Simple luxury on the best beach in Ha'apai. T$45 for a double.  edit


  • Fins 'n' Flukes, (On the main island of Lifuka, 2km North of Pangai, well signposted), 60051 (), [11]. checkin: 12 noon mon-sat; checkout: 10 am. All houses are by the sea with direct beach access. Snorkeling reef in front of the resort with diving and whale watching available TOP$130.00 per double en-suite room per night, TOP $60 per single room per night.  edit
  • Matafonua Lodge, (northern tip of Foa island reachable by causeway from the main island of Pangai), [12]. Ten fales by the sea. With diving and whale watching available on site NZD$140.00 per fale per night.  edit
  • Serenity Beach, (on Uoleva island just south of Pangai). Five octagonal ocean-front fales on this otherwise deserted island that can be reached on foot from Pangai at low tide (this crossing is potentially dangerous). US$80-130 per night.  edit


  • Sandy Beach Resort, (Foa Island 10 km north of Lifuka Airport), [13]. German-run resort with twelve large, comfortable bungalows right on the beach. Each bungalow has a verandah overlooking the sea. Provides the base for Ocean Blue Diving and can also offer kayakking, horseback riding and boat trips to "meet the whales". €160 a night per bungalow.  edit

  • Villa Mamana, (On Telekivava’u Island - 37 miles south of Pangai.), [14]. The Villa is designed to host only one party at a time with a maximum of four persons. US$500 per night for the villa.  edit


Get out[edit]

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