Tonga essential information

Sailing the South Pacific

Back to Tonga


Find everything you need to prepare for a charter in Tonga. From important base information to required documents for international travel, you can use this information as your guide before and during your charter. Don't forget to pack a copy to take with you.

Plan

Before you go

Address
Sunsail Tonga
Neiafu Waterfront
Vava’u
Kingdom of Tonga

Located some 1500 miles north east of New Zealand, and at about 19 degrees south of the equator Vava'u is the northern most island group in the Kingdom of Tonga.

Neiafu is the official port of entry for yachts coming to Vava'u.  A string of islands and reefs along the eastern edge of the group shelters the area from strong winds and ocean swells.

Please note that this base is operated by one of our Franchise partners.

Base hours
Monday - Friday: 8:30am - 5:00pm

Saturday: 8:30am - Noon

Season: This destination closes for the month of February.

All businesses are closed on Sunday and Christmas Day. 

Due to current regulations, Tonga charters may not start or end on a Sunday. Also, in observance of King Tupou VI's birthday and the Crown Prince's birthday, the base will be closed on July 4th and 17th. If those dates fall on a Sunday, the holidays will be observed the following Monday. Regrettably, our base will be closed these two days and will not be open as a charter start or end day.

Time zone
Standard Time Zone in Tonga is UTC/GMT +13 hours.

Language
The official languages are Tongan and English.

Cost of living
Prices vary between areas and from restaurant to restaurant, however the following is a guide for your reference:

  • A bottle of wine costs about T$10 to T$19 in a supermarket and from T$19 to T$44 in a restaurant.
  • A bottle of beer costs about T$3 to T$6
  • A cheap snack costs about T$3
  • A three-course meal is likely to cost T$35 per head

What to bring

Passport and visas
Passports should be valid for at least 6 months beyond your stay. Your passport name must match the name on the flight ticket otherwise you may not be able to travel and insurance may be invalid. 

Visas are not necessary when visiting Tonga, as long as the visit is for less than 30 days and providing that you have a valid passport, onward sea or air ticket, and proof of adequate funds and relevant health certificates (Typhoid and immunization shots). 

It is the responsibility of each individual to ensure relevant visas are obtained where necessary. Sunsail cannot be held responsible for refusal of entry or travel due to lack of visas. If you are in any doubt please contact your Embassy for full details. The Tonga Visitors Bureau website - www.tongaholiday.com has excellent information to assist you.

Please note country entry/exit requirements are subject to change. Please check http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country.html for the latest information before you leave. Sunsail is not accountable for any requirement changes.

Customs + immigration
You will need to clear customs and immigration before leaving the airport. A landing card will be issued on the plane, along with a customs declaration form. You may enter Tonga for a period not exceeding 30 days, providing that you have a valid passport (expiration date must be no earlier than 6 months after your planned return), an onward sea or air ticket, proof of adequate funds and relevant health certificates, i.e. up-to-date typhoid and immunisation shots. Airlines will assume no liability for perishable articles, e.g. food, which may also be confiscated by customs.

Sailing licences
Although no sailing licenses are required for cruising in this area, we strongly advise that you take any sailing certification on vacation with you. This may be useful should you be contacted by Customs or Port Police. If you have not already done so then Skipper and 1st Mate will be required to fill in a Sailing resume to confirm that you have the necessary skills to sail in this region.

Luggage + packing list

We would highly recommend packing insect repellent, prescription medicine and essential clothing (swimsuit, t-shirt and shorts) in your hand luggage as occasionally your luggage may arrive at the base after you do.

Please pack using soft-sided bags, as these are easier to store on your yacht.

What's on board

Coolers
Coolers are available at the base on a first come, first serve basis at no additional charge. Please sign for these and return them clean and undamaged otherwise you will be charged for replacement. Only one per boat.

Mobile phones
Using a local Sim card will work almost throughout all of the sailing area. Some anchorages are too protected to receive the signal but you should find somewhere satisfactory. There are 2 cell phone providers Digicell and Tonfon.

WiFi connection – is available at the Mango restaurant in front of the base. It's good for the boat while docked or moored, but won’t work once you set sail. So you can only connect in Neiafu harbour. You will be able to get online in Tongatapu & Neiafu town.

Music + iPods
All boats are fitted with a radio and CD player. If you wish to listen to your IPOD whilst sailing you will need to bring along an iTrip or FM radio transmitter.

Drone

The use of flying drones may be restricted in some areas. For current drone regulations in this destination, please visit https://uavcoach.com/drone-laws-in-tonga/

Electricity
The standard voltage on all yachts is 12 volts.  In order to use electronic equipment that is 110v or 220v, you will need an inverter suitable for use in a cigarette lighter. Please note that inverters are only to be used for charging batteries on cell phones & laptops. 

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Sail

About the marina

Marina facilities
Base Facilities include water, fuel and ice. Mango restaurant is located next to the base.

Dock facilities
The only place that clients can fuel the boat and refill their water tanks is at the base. At any stage throughout the cruising ground, clients will be no further than 20 miles from the base; therefore returning to the base to refill the fuel and water tanks will not be a problem.

The cost of fuel is $2.56 Pa'anga per liter.

Sailing licences

Experience level
Sailing experience: Level 2

Experience levels are based on sailing conditions and the length of passages within your chosen sailing area.  

Get more information on Tonga's sailing conditions.

Experience levels are based on sailing conditions and the length of passages within your chosen sailing area. Follow the link for more information on the sailing conditions.

Sailing grounds

Skippered charter information
The skipper’s time is booked from 2pm-10am. The skipper is responsible for the safety of the yacht at all times. He is not permitted to dive with you, nor leave the vessel overnight. He must conduct a safety brief with you before leaving the dock regardless of the duration of his contract with you.

For “check out charters” (anything less than the full duration of the charter) the check out skipper’s time is booked from 6pm-6pm to allow for a meet and greet in the evening and go over basic systems, then a full day with you the next day.

This skipper is required to give you a thorough briefing on all aspects of the yacht and dinghy in addition to assisting you with planning an itinerary for the trip and advising you how to contact the base, the return to base procedures and the emergency assistance procedures. It is suggested that you attend the scheduled chart brief that will be supplemented by the skipper during his time with you on the yacht. It is also suggested that you make it clear exactly what you want to cover, anchoring, docking, etc.

The skipper will be required to give you as much information as you require concerning the yacht and its systems, sailing skills and navigation in general.

The skipper fee does not include food or beverages for the skipper and are the responsibility of the client. It is suggested that you discuss this on the first day with the skipper and establish whether you will give the skipper cash for meals, whether you have included him in your provisioning or whether you will accommodate him as part of the group for meals ashore.

The skipper must have his own cabin. We prefer not to put the skipper in the bow due to the shared head sand size of the cabin. If you expect him to stay in the bow, please let us know well in advance so that we can choose the appropriate (small) skipper.

For one-day check out skippers it is your responsibility to get the skipper back to the base. If you prefer not to come back to the base you must pay for his expenses (ferry, taxi, etc.) to get him back to the base.

The average tip for a skipper is 15-20 percent of the skipper’s fee. This is, of course, at the client’s discretion.

Sailing area restrictions
Cruising area for this base is limited to the Vava'u Group (which is a very large area!).

We ask that you stay away from the windward (east side) of the Group.

Tonga prohibits anchoring inside Bora Bora Island.  Only Moorings balls and docking is allowed.

This information is covered in the chart briefing.

Night sailing
Night sailing is not permitted; you must be moored at least one hour before sunset at all of our locations.

Charts + pilot books
All the charts and pilot books you will need for the sailing area are on board the yacht.

Sailing permits + taxes
Cruising permits are not required in Tonga.

Moorings fees + taxes
All moorings in the area belong either to restaurants, charter companies or similar and are usually for their clients. As a guest, you may often use them free of charge but please call the owner to ask for permission. You may be asked to pay a small fee. In most places of sailing area you will be at anchor.

Health + safety

Illness or injury 
Tonga is generally risk-free of contagious disease.

At time of publication, an International Vaccination Certificate is not mandatory. However, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends certain vaccinations for visitors travelling to Tonga.

If you get sick and visit the doctor or hospital during your trip contact a member of Sunsail staff as soon as possible at the base.

Safety 
All yachts are equipped with adult life jackets and harnesses. We leave it up to you to decide when personal safety equipment should be worn.

Swim Safe 
For your safety and for environmental reasons, the feeding of fish is not recommended and may be prohibited in some destinations.

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Shop

Around the base

Accommodations
Hotels 
Tongan Beach Resort

Neiafu, Vava'u Island
Phone/Fax: (676) 70 380
Email[email protected]

Distance from the base: 15 min drive and center of town.
Features: Fans and some of the rooms are air-conditioned, fridge, coffee/tea maker.
Property features restaurant, bar, beach water sports.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa, Diners accepted.

Hilltop 
Neiafu, Vava'u Island
Overlooking both harbors
Sunset Restaurant is located here.
Air conditioning or fans.
Private balconies.
Credit cards accepted.
Phone: +676 70209-70838 / Fax: +676 70209
E-mail[email protected]

Currency
Tongan Pa’anga (T$) - divided into 100 Senti.

Foreign currencies are not readily accepted in Tonga.

Banks
Banks are available for changing money. There is a 24-hour ATM in Neiafu town and two ATM machines in Vava’u. One at the ANZ bank and the other one at Westpac Bank, both are outside and available 24/7.

Credit card information
Credit cards (Visa and MasterCard only) are accepted at a few restaurants in Neiafu town. Please note that as with all the establishments in Tonga, a five percent credit card surcharge applies. In general, the shops in Neiafu do not accept credit cards so it is best to have Tongan Pa’anga for use at restaurants, local villages and bars and for shopping in town and at the local markets.

Post office
A Post Office is located in Uturoa, 5 KM from the base.  
Monday to Friday: from 7.30 am to 3.00 pm during the week and from 8.00 am to 10.00 am during weekends.

Shopping
There are a few small shops within walking distance from the base. There are no shops or stores on any of the outer islands.

There a large range of handicrafts available including traditional tapa cloth and tapa crafts, woven crafts from Pandanus leaves, Tongan jewelry, wood carvings and more, all made locally and reflecting the proud culture and heritage of the Kingdom.

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For more information on what's included on your yacht, please view the full list here.

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