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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


By plane


International flights arrive on Tongatapu.

  • 1 Lifuka Island Airport (HPA  IATA Salote Pilolevu Airport). There are daily flights by REALtonga, Tonga's Domestic Airline, to Ha'apai and a link from Vava'u a couple of times a week. Flight time Tongatapu - Ha'apai is about 30 minutes. Lifuka Island Airport (Q3272015) on Wikidata Lifuka Island Airport on Wikipedia

By ferry


The MV Outuanga'ofa 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

  • Rent a bicycle. These can be rented at Mariner's Cafe, Fins 'n' Flukes, Fifita's and Lindsay's guest houses.


  • 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.
  • Lotofoa Methodist Church has a beautifully carved coconut wood ceiling.
  • Ancient Petroglyphs have 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.
  • Foa Island is a small island connected by a concrete causeway. Offshore is the wreck of Port Au Prince, a treasure-laden pirate ship, whose legend says was thought to have been sunk by natives in the early 19th century.


  • Just relax. Take a walk around the sleepy capital of Lifuka on Pangai Island to savour the slow pace of life.
  • Snorkelling and diving. Ha'apai has some huge sea caves, tunnels, drop-offs, walls, bommies and coral gardens.
  • 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.
  • Kayaking. Sit on top and sea kayaks are available from Fins 'n' Flukes.
  • Camping. Camping gear is available from Fins 'n' Flukes.
  • Island Trips. Fins 'n' Flukes offer island trips to Luahoko, Kau Vai (Ha'ano), Uoleva, Tatafa, Uiha, Tofanga, Uanuku'ha'hake, Luangahu, Hakau'ata, Lofanga, Nuku'pule and Meama.


Uonukuhihifo, Uonukuhahake, and Tofanga islands.jpg



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.

Talahiva Tongan Cafe - behind the petrol station in Pangai, T$5 for very big portions of BBQ, KFC and Curry. Langi Langi guesthouse lobster feast, T$30 for more than you could possibly eat; advance booking required.


  • Mariner's Cafe, Pangai. Bar and cafe



There is a range of accommodation on the Ha'apai islands, from budget to luxurious. 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 Livuka), +676 60029. Six rooms. T$25-60 for a double.
  • 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.
  • Lindsay's Guest House (in Lifuka), +676 60107. Ha'apai's largest guest house, with 12 rooms. T$30-45 for a double.
  • Diana's Resort, Uoleva (Uoleva), +676 7313549. Simple luxury on the best beach in Ha'apai. T$45 for a double.


Ha'hapai Barrier Reef
  • Matafonua Lodge (northern tip of Foa island reachable by causeway from the main island of Pangai). Ten fales by the sea. With diving and whale watching available on site NZ$120 per fale per night.
  • 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.


  • Sandy Beach Resort (Foa Island 10 km north of Lifuka Airport), +676 69600, . German-run resort with 12 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". NZ$120-270 per fale per night.
  • Villa Mamana (on Telekivava’u Island - 37 miles south of Pangai). The villa is designed to host only one party at a time with a maximum of four persons. US$1060 per night for the villa.



Go next

This rural area travel guide to Ha'apai is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.