Tonga: Where to Stay

We were in Tonga last week, and we stayed at the Tanoa International Dateline hotel in Nuku‘alofa, the capital of Tonga, which lies on the north shore of the main island of Tongatapu.

Tanoa is a South Pacific hotel chain owned by the family-run Reddy Group, which got its start in Fiji in 1947.

My overall impression: The Tanoa International Dateline is good value for the money. The room averaged about $100-$150 USD a night, including a generous hot breakfast buffet for two people per room.

The hotel suits travelers who like more Western-style accommodations.

The hotel grounds: Lovely. A lot of thought was put into landscaping and art placement. There are beautiful, big tikis embedded into the garden surrounding the pool.

The hotel is at a prime location: Just a short walk from downtown and right across from a quiet pier that provides a perfect vantage point of the bright, aquamarine ocean. I ran along the seawall in both directions and rewarded myself at the end of the runs by soothing my feet in the ocean at the edge of the pier. It’s very relaxing to stare out at the water.

Tanoa hotel pier Tonga

The room: Our room was a good size and styled with modern design (black-and-white color scheme). The queen bed was comfortable, and there was plenty of room to lay out our suitcases on the floor. We didn’t have a balcony (although there are rooms with balconies), but we did have a corner room with a decent ocean view.

The food: The breakfast buffet offers scrambled eggs, eggs cooked to order, bacon cooked to order, hash browns, oatmeal, pastries and more. We stayed for a little over a week, so the food got a bit boring after a few days–but that’s really a minor complaint because the huge plus was that I got to stuff my face to fuel up for my workouts.

We had dinner at the hotel twice, and I thought the food was good. I wouldn’t call it great, but I give them points for creativity given the resources available; for instance, using spaghetti noodles for ramen (yes, some people would call that sacrilege, but I call it clever) and deep frying sushi in a light batter.

The service: The staff is generally friendly, and the front desk can be helpful for recommendations on things to do around town. The front desk also helped us book rental cars from local companies.

Note: When you pull up to a local rental car company, it might look shady, but give it a chance. We had a good vibe with Star Rentals and Fab Rentals. Star was open on a Tongan holiday, and there was a barbecue in progress in the yard while we sorted things out with a lady in a bare shipping container. Fab is at the top of a two-story house with run-down couches on the balcony. Both allowed us to leave the car at the hotel for them to pick up after use.

Tikis Tanoa Tonga

Caveats: The room could use a proper lounging area. There’s enough space for a small couch or armchairs.

The housekeeping leaves a lot to be desired. The cleaning staff is friendly, but if you’re used to Western hotels where the cleaning service tends to be a consistent process daily, Tanoa’s style takes getting used to: The service quality and cleaning time varies daily. You can address issues easily by calling the front desk and asking for what you would like.

It appears the hotel installed solar-powered water heaters on its roof, so the tap tends not to cool down much, if at all.

Because you can’t drink the tap water, you can always ask the front desk or the dining staff to fill up your empty water bottles. Each room is provided with two bottles of water.

The verdict: A comfortable stay at a good location and price point.