essential information

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.


Before you go

Sunsail Tonga
Neiafu Waterfront
Kingdom of Tonga

Our Tonga base is located some 1500 miles northeast of New Zealand at about 18 degrees, 36 minutes south of the equator Vava'u in the northern sector of the Kingdom of Tonga.

Neiafu is the official port of entry for cruising 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
Mon-Fri from 8am-5pm

Saturday from 8.30am-12pm

Season: This destination closes for the month of February.

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
Time difference between Tonga and the UK is GMT +13 hours.

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 TOP 28 (GBP 8.40) in a supermarket and from TOP 45-60 (GBP 13.4-18) in a restaurant.

A bottle of beer costs about TOP 4-8 (GBP 1.20-2)

A cheap snack costs about TOP 3 (GBP 1)

A three-course meal is likely to cost TOP 60 (GBP 18) per head

What to bring

Passport and visas
Please ensure your passport is valid for at least six months after your arrival date in Tonga. Your passport name must match the name on the flight ticket otherwise you may not be able to travel and insurance may be invalid. If your child is not already included on a valid British Passport they are required to hold their own passport.

Visas are not necessary for UK nationals 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 immunisation shots). South African passport holders need a visa.

Non-British passport holders should check with their local consulate direct.

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 has excellent information to assist you.

Please note country entry/exit requirements are subject to change. Please check 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
To charter a yacht in Tonga, there must be at least one skipper and one crew member, both over 18 years old. The skipper should be competent at handling a yacht in close quarters, anchoring and mooring in varying conditions and be able to use navigation and pilotage skills to plan the day’s sailing and know your position at any time.

As a yacht skipper, you are no required to have a sailing license, however we do require that the skipper is experienced and require a skipper's resume detailing the experience. 

Luggage + packing list

Luggage allowance is 20kg per person. Only one item of hand luggage per person is allowed and this must not weigh more than 5kg. For storage aboard we recommend travelling light and using folding luggage.

Lost or damaged luggage whilst flying is the responsibility of the airline and is not covered by your travel insurance. Thomson Airways carries no liability for loss or damage to valuable or fragile items packed in hold baggage however caused. You must not include in Checked Baggage money, jewellery, precious metals, computers, personal electronic devices, negotiable papers, securities or other valuables, business documents, passports and other identification documents or samples.

Alcohol may be taken on flights but only in checked luggage (well secured from breakages) not as hand luggage due to airport security restrictions.

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.

If an incident occurs, immediately report it to airport officials and ensure Property Irregularity Reports (PIR) are completed. Claims will not be considered once you have left the airport. 

What's on board

Cool boxes 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 cell phone signal but you will get reception on the phone in most areas. There are two cell phone providers: Digicell and Tonfon.

Free wireless Internet access is available at the Mango restaurant in front of the base. Diginet is a paid service available with coverage across most of the Neiafu harbour, A Diginet connection is also available outside the Tongan Beach Resort when on one of the resort moorings or ashore at the resort bar/restaurant. Diginet vouchers are available for purchase from Digicel in Neiafu or from the base.

Music + iPods
All boats are fitted with a stereo and most have iPod outlets. We suggest that you bring applicable cables to ensure that you are able to connect your iPod to the stereo.


The use of flying drones may be restricted in some areas. For current drone regulations in this destination, please visit

Ashore, 220 volt, 50 cycles. No shore power for yachts.

There is a 12 volt cigarette lighter outlet by the chart table on the majority of our yachts.

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About the marina

Marina facilities
Base facilities include, water, fuel, showers, provisioning, gift shops, restaurants, accommodation and laundry.
Neiafu is the administrative centre of the Vava'u group and has government offices, banks, schools, a police station and a hospital.

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 TOP 3 per litre (GBP 1).

Sailing licences

Experience level
Sailing experience: Level 3

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
This information will be covered in the chart briefing, however cruising area for this base is limited to the Vava'u Group (which is a large area!).
We ask that you stay away from the windward (east side) of the Group.

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. Charts and pilot books can be purchased by mail order from the UK chandler Kelvin Hughes by contacting 02380 634911.

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 
For up-to-date authoritative advice on health protection, we recommend that you consult your family doctor.

If you get ill and visit the doctor or hospital during your trip contact a member of Sunsail staff as soon as possible on either a lead boat or at a Sunsail base or Club.

If you need to make a claim for curtailment due to illness, ask the base manager for assistance and contact your insurer’s emergency medical service immediately.

Your insurance company will assist with travel arrangements, advice and payment of bills. Obtain receipts for any medication, treatment or transport you have to pay for and submit with your claim.

Swim Safe 

Swimming is often a fun and important part of a vacation. However local rules, flag systems, currents and where swimming may be permitted, can be different and vary from country to country. Snorkel vests, Life Jackets and Diver Down flags are all available on board. 


  • Talk to children about water safety at the start of a vacation, making them aware of the potential dangers.
  • Accidents can happen at any time on vacation, but often they happen on the first and last day, so keep watch and do not get distracted when your children are playing by, or in the water.
  • Children in or near water should always be supervised by an adult and never left unattended. 
  • Get in the water with them, it is easier to keep an eye on them as well as good fun. Floatation devices are highly recommended for children but are not a substitute for supervision.

Be aware of your surroundings

  • Check warning flags and signage on the beach and only swim where it is permitted. 
  • Beware of dangerous currents, these can be very powerful. Not all beaches have lifeguards and/or warning flags.
  • Beware of underwater hazards, such as reefs, rocks, sudden changes in depth and marine life.
  • Never swim where a sign says not to e.g. in zoned areas for jet boats or jet skis.
  • Never swim at night or after drinking alcohol.

Look out for others

  • Never swim alone, ‘buddy up’ with others in your party and use the snorkel vests provided.
  • Know how and where to get help. If you see someone in difficulty; raise the alarm, preferably the emergency services. Ensure you know the correct number for the country you are in.

Do not overestimate your ability

  • Consider swimming lessons before you go if you think it would be useful to learn proper swimming technique.
  • Even if you regularly swim in a pool, remember that open water swimming can be very different.


All yachts are equipped with adult life jackets, harnesses, snorkel vests & diver down flags. You can see all this equipment demonstrated in our online safety briefing, and we strongly recommend that you make use this equipment during your vacation. This safety equipment will be displayed in the saloon of your boat on boarding - If you have any questions feel free to ask our base staff during your briefing. 

We have a very limited supply of children's life jackets on base so highly recommend that if you are travelling with children, you bring their own. This ensures that children have correctly fitting jackets that are comfortable for them.  

Children should not be allowed in the dinghy without a life jacket or buoyancy aid and should wear a buoyancy aid or harness whilst on deck. 

Children under the age of 16 should not operate an outboard engine and should be supervised at all times when in the dinghy. 

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Around the base

Boathouse Apartments 
Adjacent to the Sunsail base
Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga
Tel: + 676 70016
Email: [email protected]

Tongan Beach Resort
Tel + 676 70380/8746400
Email: [email protected]

Tongan Pa’anga (TOP), which is divided into 100 Senti.

Banks are available for changing money. There is a 24-hour ATM in Neiafu town.

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 opposite the wharf. The red building behind the police station.

Opening hours are Mon-Fri from 9am-4.30pm.

Currency can be exchanged at local banks.

There are no large supermarkets in Neiafu, only a handful of small stores. 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 jewellery, 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.

Choose Sunsail

Stunning Sailing Destinations 
Flotilla routes
Types of yachts
44 yrs
Creating holidays
4 hr
Service commitment
Consumer protection