Here are some things you may want to know about during your stay in Vava’u:
The northern island group of Vava’u consists of one large island, Vava’u Lahi, surrounded by a necklace of 50 smaller ones, many of which have deserted white sandy beaches, pristine clear lagoons, and coral gardens. The main village is Neiafu, with a population of approximately 10,000. The total population of Vava’u is near 17,000.
Visitors are welcome for 30 days provided they have an onward sea or air ticket. Extensions for stays up to six months are normally obtained without difficulty. Visitors may not obtain employment without a permit.
Banks are open Monday to Friday from around 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM with ATMs available in several locations. The produce market and shops are open Monday to Friday from around 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Saturday mornings until noon. Sunday activities are restricted to religious observance and obeyance of the Sabbath laws. Shops are closed, most transport is suspended, and sport is not encouraged.
Tipping and Taxes
Tipping/gratuity is not part of the Tongan custom and is not expected anywhere in the country— although it is always appreciated. There is a 15% Consumption Tax in Tonga, and it is almost always included in the cost of anything you purchase. It’s generally not added to the sales price.
Dress Around Town
The Tongan culture is very conservative when it comes to dress. It’s most appropriate for shoulders and knees to be covered, but most casual attire is fine as long as it isn’t too revealing. Shirts are definitely required in town. Please be respectful and save the beachwear for the beach, boat, or resort.
There is a lot to do in Vava’u and our friendly Aquarium Café staff can offer impartial advice about whale watching, swimming with whales, scuba diving, scuba lessons, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, sailing, boat charters, adventure tours, and hiking. We don’t accept commission from any of the companies that we recommend. Our goal is to help you have a great time during your visit.
Information for Boaters
If you are arriving by boat, the following information will help make for a smooth arrival. We hope you have an easy sail to Vava’u, Tonga. Don’t hesitate to ask us if you have any additional questions!
Check-In & Out
To check into Vava’u, bring your boat alongside the main Custom’s Wharf on the northern end of the Neiafu Harbour.
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM.
Closed for lunch, usually 12:30 – 1:30 PM.
Lunchtime and after hours check-ins are available by special arrangement and a fee.
- Vava’u Port Control: VHF – 26
- Customs (Telephone): 70053 or 70928
- Immigration (Telephone): 71142
- Health (Telephone): 70201
- Quarantine (Telephone): 70401
Rubbish service is available at the Aquarium Café for a small fee ranging from TOP $2-5 per bag. Separate out the glass and aluminum/tin cans and deposit them in the marked containers Please do not leave your rubbish bags outside in town, because the dogs love to get into them and someone else ends up cleaning it up. Please feed the fish any food scraps. Help keep Vava’u clean.
- Aquarium Café (Telephone): 70493 – VHF 16 or 26
Diesel and petrol can be purchased from various stations around town. From the water, BP fuel is your option. Please call them in advance with the amount of fuel required (200 litre minimum). We can assist you in making an appointment for fuel.
- BP Fuel (Telephone): 70972
Duty Free Fuel
Duty free fuel can be purchased from BP Fuel when leaving Vava’u after you’ve checked out with Customs. The fuel truck can be pre-booked to come down to the Custom’s Wharf to meet you. The minimum amount of fuel is 200 litres. This can be shared among several boats in order to meet the minimum. BP Fuel needs to know the boat name, the estimated amount of fuel ,and the time and date of refueling. We can assist you in making an appointment for fuel.
- BP Fuel (Telephone): 70972
Butane is the only gas available in Vava’u. It just burns a little hotter than propane. Bottles can be refilled at Homegas in the village of Toula. You can reach Homegas either by taxi or by dinghy (and a short stair climb). A return taxi trip from Neiafu costs approx TOP$10.
- Homegas (Telephone): 70319
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
- Tropicana Café (Telephone): 71322 – VHF 16/26
Full laundry service (wash, dry, and fold). Located on the main street in town.
- CocoNet Café (Telephone): 71311 – VHF 16
Full laundry service (wash, dry, and fold). Located beside the small boat marina in the town centre.
- Bubbles Laundry (Telephone): 842-0748 – VHF 26
Self-service and full service (wash, dry, and ironing). Located in Guttenbeil plaza, up from the small boat marina.
- Vava’u Canvas Repair (Telephone): 70493 – VHF 16
Located near the Moorings base/Mango Cafe.
- Seam to Me (Telephone): 755-8164 – VHF 26