Sandy Beach Resort

The peace and tranquility of deserted beaches, uninhabited islands to explore, whale encounters, world-class snorkeling, incredible diving and some of the best swimming beaches in the South Pacific. Along with Matafonua Lodge, these two resorts are located next to each other on the quiet northern tip of Foa Island, only a short flight from the mainland.

With its white sand beaches, warm climate, and picture perfect lagoon, choice of two levels of Accommodation, and 2 great restaurants to choose from, this is the ultimate Pacific holiday destination.

Scuba Diving
Board the dive boat just meters from your Fale. From there depart for one of the dozens of nearby reef systems and coral bombies, which offer some of the South Pacific’s most unspoiled and rarely visited dive experiences. From soft coral gardens to hard coral bombies, swim throughs and tunnel systems and offshore pinnacles this truly is a diverse marine environment. With regular sightings of the big stuff like sharks, tuna and manta rays, to colorful nudibranchs and shrimps plus everything in between. Visibility averages 100ft /30m but can often exceed that, water temps range from 24C to 28C.
This year with the remodeled dive boat, new engines and larger fuel tanks we will have access to some rarely visited pinnacles at the northern end of Ha’apai which will offer some very exciting diving! Beach Diving is available from TOP$100 We also offer a full range of dive courses from a one day dive experience for the non-qualified diver to a full open water course and beyond.

Snorkeling Paddle boarding or Kayaking the House Reef
Our House reef in front of the resort, stretching for 400m, offers some of the most spectacular snorkeling in the South Pacific. Our shallow lagoon is on the east side of the island allowing the clear nutrient rich waters from the Tongan Trench to flow directly through the lagoon feeding the reef and tropical fish.  All snorkel gear is provided free for in house guests. 

Unspoiled beaches, endless shallow lagoons, and consistent trade winds are the recipe for a great kiteboarding spot, and here we have them all. Being on the northern tip of the island, we have over 300 degrees of exposure to the wind, so if its blowing you can kite from here on our beach. Work your way a little upwind to the reef edge of the lagoon and you have clean undisturbed wind from the Pacific allowing you to cruise for miles. IKO certified Kiteboarding instructors are available to hone your skills, learn new tricks or assist you from one of our inflatables.  Pulling off your best tricks right in front of the resort restaurant, no need to travel to kite locations, here at Matafonua you kite right from your doorstep.

The lagoon directly in front of your Fale is blessed with some of the best snorkeling in Tonga. Just 20 meters from where you sleep is an amazing coral reef and crystal clear water with pipe fish, anemone fish and white mouth eels to mention just a few. In the channel between our beach and the island of Nuku Namu you will find larger pelagics we also have a family of leopard sharks that live in the channel and numerous rays.

Just 500 metres  into the lagoon you will find the Matafonua lagoon reef, marked with a buoy for easy discovery, this is the most amazing snorkeling. Just 2 metres deep with clean clear water provided everyday from the Pacific, here you will find the most  bio-diversity offered anywhere in the Tongan Archipelago.   Complimentary snorkel equipment is provided for guests.

Stand Up Paddle
Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is currently one of the fastest growing water sports. We have several options available here starting with the "Red" inflatable boards perfect for beginners extremely large and stable. Then for the more adventurous we have a selection of fiberglass boards in various sizes great for a stroll in the lagoon or hanging ten in the surf.
Daily safaris and sunset trips are available from our water sport guides we even offer a floodlit nighttime paddle over the reef in the shallow lagoon.  Also a great way to keep fit we also offer SUP fitness and SUP yoga classes.


Double and single Kayaks are available for you to explore the large lagoon, visit the nearby uninhabited island of Nuku Namu.  Have the kitchen make up a picnic lunch, pack snorkeling gear and make a day of it.   When the swell is co-operative we have a great little wave at the end of our beach perfect for hours of fun.

Bush & Reef Walk
With miles of bush walking trails leading to lookouts and secret beaches there is plenty of exploring to be done by foot. At low tide take a walk out into the lagoon to see the reef edge and our resident colony of Spanish Dancers (nudibranch).  Join one of our guided trips or make your own way.

Horse Riding
Horses are still used here in Ha'apai as a form of transport and for work.  Horse riding is offered here from our local village, ride through the bush, gallop on the beach and even take your horse for a swim in the ocean, a great way for all to cool off. Please note this is done island style, bare back no saddle!
Freediving is one of the earliest forms of diving and has been around for thousands of years. From the Ama pearl divers from Japan 2000 years ago to the Greeks sponge divers.  The history of free diving in Polynesia has always been strong.  We have free diving instructors on staff to teach formal classes or just give you a few tips to improve your underwater swimming ability.   We can arrange half day trips out to some amazing reef and cave structures to test your breath holding ability in the safety of an organized group. 

Bicycles are offered complementary to our guests. Ride into Pangai, the main town on the island, only 14 km (8 miles) to the south, ride across the runway and traverse the causeway between the 2 islands.  Visit Mariner's cafe for a refreshing drink and some lunch before setting off back for the northern tip of the island.


Great fishing is accessible from the end of the beach here at Matafonua. Most mornings the channel between Foa and Nuku Namu is alive with bait fish. We regularly see Giant Trevally, Queenfish and Blue Trevally which can be caught with poppers and swimming lures.
Half day fishing trips can be arranged with a local fisherman from the village to troll for blue water fish like Mahi Mahi, Tuna and Wahoo or go to the reef to cast for Giant Trevally. 

Houmale’eia Petroglyphs
At the southern end of the eastern beach is the archeological site of the petroglyphs. Beach erosion revealed the ancient rock art when an Australian couple noticed man made engravings on the flat rock in 2008. There are over 50 petroglyphs that have remained buried for hundreds of years, the style corresponds to Hawaiian carvings dating from 1200.AD – which raises some interesting questions!

Ha'ano Cultural Tour
We have been working with the women’s group from the island of Ha'ano for several years now to provide a cultural experience for our guests.
You are picked up by local boat at 10am and formally met at the wharf in the village of Ha'ano on the island of Kauvai just a 15 minute ride away. You spend the day with the local villagers being shown around the island. Activities include local handicraft demonstrations, beautiful singing and traditional dancing from the children at the local school and an amazing lunch feast.  A quick snorkel on the beach before arriving back at Matafonua mid-afternoon.  All proceeds for this trip go to the people of Ha'ano.  

Megaptera Novaeangliae, the Humpback Whale, migrates to our clear warm and calm waters every year for 4 months (Jun-Oct, with Jul/Aug/Sep prime time) to mate, give birth and nurse their young. The pregnant mothers find a safe place to give birth and then concentrate on getting their babies fit and strong for the 3000 nm trip back to the feeding grounds in Antarctica, they achieve this by providing the calf with an amazing 500 liters of milk a day.

The mature males have only one thing on their mind and that is to find a willing female to mate with, large pods of males can be seen regularly chasing a female wrestling and jostling for position in what's called a "heat run", these can last for days, finally the dominant male having chased off all his rivals gets his prize.
Ha'apai, situated in the middle of the Tongan archipelago, provides a terrific nursery for the whales during their 4 month stay. With plenty of whales and few operators we are spoiled with the experience we can offer. This doesn't mean we can guarantee swimming, the decision to swim is always left up to the whale, but we believe with our patient approach we are often rewarded with amazing encounters.

It is important to remember the whales here are wild animals, with an intelligence we can only begin to imagine, our approach is to position the boat 200-300  meters from the whale and watch and wait, generally they can be inquisitive if they show our experienced captains signs that they are happy with our company only then do we enter the water. This approach proves effective  time and time again.
Our whale boats are staffed by a certified captain and whale guide and meet all the requirements for survey being equipped with all relevant safety equipment. A picnic lunch is offered daily either aboard or on a local beach. Fresh water, tea and coffee are also provided.

Whale Swimming
Sandy Beach Lodge, being located in the elbow of Ha’ano and Foa Islands, gives us access to one of the best whale nursery areas in Tonga. With female Humpbacks coming back to the same locations to give birth and nurse their new born calves.
Come enjoy the majesty of the mighty Humpback Whale as they migrate to our warm tropical waters for the winter months. We offer daily trips with a maximum of 8 passengers aboard our 2 fully licensed vessels to watch and swim with these gentle giants. Most days from the beach here at Matafonua you can see them frolic in the shallow water surrounding Foa Island.

Trips leave daily and include a delicious lunch, home baked snacks, tea coffee and water. Your day is spent watching, swimming and learning about the whales. We usually anchor at a shallow reef or deserted island for some lunch and snorkeling. Your trip is led by one of our experienced and knowledgeable guides.
Our approach here at Matafonua is to be patient, of utmost importance is the well being of the whales. It should be remembered that it is a privilege to swim with the whales and by giving them absolute respect and care we are usually rewarded with a much better in-water experience.

Robinson Crusoe Experience
Have you ever dreamed of stepping back in time? Getting away from the hustle and bustle?  No phone, no media, no deadlines? Then the island of Luahoko awaits! Here is a unique opportunity to spend some time on an uninhabited island in the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific.  Just the two of you. Far away from civilization and nothing around you but pure nature. We offer this one-of-a-kind experience as follows:

Make your own travel arrangements to the international airport in Tonga (TBU).   Flight from Tongatapu to Ha'apai. Courtesy transfer to Sandy Beach Resort, located on the most beautiful swimming beach in the whole of Tonga. Enjoy two days of comfort at the resort and be trained in the art of living like Robinson Crusoe.

On the third day, you will be taken by boat to Luahoko, your personal Robinson Crusoe island.  An authentic Tongan fale will be your home for the next 10 days, in which the silence is broken only by the wind, the waves and birdsong.

After your stay on the island, you will return to Sandy Beach Resort for 7 nights.  Transfer back to Ha'apai airport for your half-hour scenic flight to Tongatapu.
20 nights including domestic flights, transfers and food on a share twin basis.   Cost around $4150 per person.   If the above itinerary does not suit, we are happy to tailor the package to suit your individual needs.

The 12 fales at Sandy Beach Resort are situated in a beachfront tropical garden setting. The comfortably furnished rooms have tiled floors and each fale has a private terrace with a view of the crystal clear Pacific Ocean. Fales may be configured with two twin beds or one king-sized bed and each has it’s own table and chairs, fan, wardrobe and tea and coffee making facilities.Spacious ensuite bathrooms have a large washbasin, WC and a large, fully tiled shower.  There is plenty of solar-powered hot water with good water pressure.


Have a Whale of a Time!
Rare Space Available Prime Whale Time
Sep 12-18, 2024
* 6 nights beachfront bungalow, all meals, taxes, 3 days of whale fun & 1 dive day for 2 people = $3950