Tongatapu is the main island of the Kingdom of Tonga and the location of its capital Nukuʻalofa. It is located in Tonga's southern island group, to which it gives its name, and is the country's most highly populated island.
Tongatapu is Tonga's centre of government and the seat of its monarchy.
Nuku’alofa, once a run-down town due to numerous burnt out buildings, is undergoing a facelift, with the town boasting many new buildings, yet still retaining some tradition. Most importantly for cruisers it has an excellent fresh vegetable market. Internet is probably the best of all the Pacific islands with fibre optic cables in place and 3G+.
Location 21°08'12"S, 175°11'02"W (harbour entrance)
Note: Tonga has a new island, about 65 kilometres south-west of Tongatapu (approx. 20° 34′ 12″ S, 175° 22′ 48″ W), which started forming in January 2016 after a volcano began erupting. Tonga's lands and natural resources ministry has examined the island and stated that the newly formed landmass is around 800m wide and 1.3km long.
Nuku'alofa Port Authority listen on VHF Ch. 14. Alternatively, Nuku'alofa Radio listens to Ch 16 & 12, also 2182kHz. Authorities must be contacted for clearance instructions (see comment at bottom of page re. arriving here out of season).
There is a Yacht Clearance Berth (combined with the fuel & water dock) in the small boat harbour at Faua. This is directly in front of the entrance. Alternatively, you can anchor and dinghy in and visit the officials yourself.
Authorities may also come to the yacht to complete clearance.
Everyone is friendly and helpful and clearance can be completed in two hours or less.
Boats are only cleared between 0830 and 1630 Monday to Friday and may be boarded by Immigration and Agriculture officials. Fresh fruit, vegetables, some herbs and non-commercially packed eggs may be confiscated and destroyed.
Yachts are not cleared in or out at weekends, or during lunch 12:30-13:30 (except by prior arrangement). If arriving outside normal hours, anchor with the Q flag flying at the Pangimotu anchorage and wait until office hours.
No one should leave the vessel until contact with officials has been made.
Certain areas in the approaches to Nuku'alofa are prohibited for anchoring and these are marked on the chart.
Last updated September 2016.
Yachts can berth at Faua, the small boat harbour, or anchor at the designated yacht anchorage at Pangaimotu Island.
Faua harbour, just west of the Queen Salote wharf, is close to Nuku'alofa town. The entrance is 8.5 ft (2.6 m) at low tide and dredged to a depth of 9-13 ft (3-4 m) inside. Yachts should moor Mediterranean-style on the north side of the harbour, with long stern lines - a dinghy is still needed to get ashore. The area around the Fisheries market on the south side must be kept clear for local boat use.
Nuku'alofa Harbour has recently been reported as perfectly clean and there is excellent holding in front of the town harbour. The shelter here is also very good.
The designated yacht anchorage at Pangaimoto Island, just 1.25 nautical miles from Nuku’alofa, is even better and more sheltered. The anchorage has a sandy bottom and good holding. Secure in all weather except strong westerlies.
The small resort is very welcoming to cruisers.
Last updated September 2016.