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“Just perfect”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Matafonua Lodge

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Matafonua Lodge
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Foa Island
Certificate of Excellence
Wellington, New Zealand
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Just perfect”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 4, 2013

I normally prefer discovering new places when travelling but Matafonua is the first place I ever revisited - and not only once. I just came back from my third stay and spent a truly perfect week there. I am actually reluctant to write this review since it would be a shame to see this place and the whole island of Ha'apai attracting more tourists. However I do think Nina and Darren really deserve success with what they have built up here.

Everything just suits my taste of a succesful tropical holiday. A beautiful and lively lagoon just a step away from your fale. The fales themselfs are simple yet comfortable and with the new addition of some shelfs even easier to keep some tidyness. The food I found just amazing every night and if the two would open a restaurant anywhere near me I'd be a regular. Also the whole staff working there is just so super friendly and they seem to have lots of fun working there which just spreads lots of good vibes. While I am not a very experienced diver I find the diving spectacular and diverse. Last but definitely not least the whale swimming experience is just magical and the whales are actually not chased down but treated in the most respectful way.

I recommended this place to many friends of mine and none of them have come back dissapointed.
Go there.... and stay there if you can!

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
3 Thank Michael A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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389 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (80)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
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  • Any
English first
Nowra
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 3, 2013

A lot has been written about the hosts and the food. All true! There has also been a range of images of the island and lodge, so I won't go there. What impressed me in the ocean was the state of the coral - very healthy. Fish fauna wasn't that good, but the overall diving was of a high standard considering the region. Whales are the reason most visit Tonga, and again they didn't disappoint especially when Darren navigates the boat. But what a great place for families, easy beach access, a fantastic lagoon, canoes and bicycles to hire. All age groups can really enjoy what this resort has to offer. So don't disregard this place as a diving destination - it won't disappoint.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Attila K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auckland Region, New Zealand
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 3, 2013

I just wanted to give huge ups to Darren and Nina at Matafonua. Having done a lot of time diving and fishing throughout the pacific, I have to say Matafonua is way up there and the first place i'd like to return whenever next I get the chance.

I was there earlier this year with my family and my teenage boys did their padi cert. Talk about spoilt. Their first diving experience was one of my best after 36 years.

Matafonua is in Tonga on the island of Ha'apai, on the Northern tip of Foa road. And as an isthmus it benefits from the daily tidal surge which brings crystal clear, deep blue water through a channel right next to the beach. So its one of the few places where there is great ( safe) snorkelling off the beach and great fishing (GT's) right on its doorstep. In season, you'll often see Whales directly offshore.
The surrounding dive sites are outstanding and offer huge variety and make it one of the best reasons for going. But the best reason for staying is the amazing, laid back, hospitality from Darren and Nina. Darren is a world class waterman and world class water photographer. His dive and Whale watch operation is also world class and he is an amazing, knowlegeable guide. If you are interested in Whale watching I suggest you check out the Matafonua facebook page.
He does a very good job in the kitchen as well, which is often hard to find and for me a deciding factor to a great holiday.
I've now been to Matafonua 3 times so thought it was time i wrote a review - and in the interests of transparency, I have got to know and like the owners very well - so yes, I am biased. But that as a result of spending time there and falling in love with the place and the people.
If you are thinking - laid back, lovely but basic accomodation, great food, diving, weather, fishing and wonderful hospitality it's a top place. It's even close enough to do for a long weekend from NZ. Forget the current NZ travel warning-it has nothing to do with Ha'apai.

Room Tip: The rooms are Fales, basic and well made. They stand on poles and get the breeze. They are all prett...
See more room tips
  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
3 Thank James B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South Australia
Level Contributor
30 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 28, 2013

During our week in Tonga on the island of Ha'apai we visited the Matafonua Lodge, located at the end of the island just up from Sandy Beach resort (separate review). Run by Darren and Nina, this little piece of paradise was just amazing. These guys love what they do and it shows in their interest in ther guests and their commitment to making sure everyone that visits leaves with great memories. We went diving on two days and enjoyed our time with Jodi and Garry, the resident dive masters. Plenty of fish, the odd shark and I was fortunate enough to see a whale while diving. Fantastic listening to the whale singing and then having it cruise past 20 or 30 feet away. We went up to the lodge for dinner on two evenings and it seemed more like a heap of friends meeting over great food and hospitality rather than a bunch of strangers staying at a resort. Darren showed some great videos (see you tube darrenninaa) and we met some really nice people. The highlight was a day whale watching with their operation. Darren managed to fit us in which was very good of him and it was just incredible. Relaxed, friendly and fun, we spent some serious time with a mother and calf who just seemed to know that we were not a danger to them. They were so relaxed that the mother was asleep 15 feet down while the calf swam around us and then hid back under mum for a few minutes than back to the top. Talking with our group back at dinner that night it was agreed it had been a pretty special day. This is the sort of place you come back to and we would love to visit again but bring our childred next time.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank southaussies1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
australia
Level Contributor
36 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 24, 2013

We stayed at the Matafonua Resort on our recent stay on the beautiful Foa Island, Ha’apai, Tonga.
What a fantastic decision this was! This place was dreamy and romantic too.
Foa Island is tranquil and unspoilt with a lifestyle reminiscent of days long past. Come here for a romantic break, a relaxing holiday, to swim with the majestic humpback whale and for some of the most amazing, swimming, snorkelling and diving beaches in the South Pacific. All within easy reach from your doorstep or a short, pleasurable boat ride away.
The beautiful Fales at Matafonua Lodge, though basic, were amazing, with stunning views out of the louvered windows and off the deck as well. The rooms were just steps away of the beautiful beach and each night we drifted to sleep listening to the sound of the sea outside our windows.
Nina and Darren bring this resort to life with their big personalities. They know their way around Foa and were helpful in every way. They have the absolute jewel in the crown at Matafonua, with the best possible location on Foa. The resort is surrounded by 3 beach fronts, all offering different swimming or snorkeling experiences. There are also great walking trails adjacent and an easy bike ride into the main town available. The hosts have created a wonderful family atmosphere here and meal times are a social event each night with tables grouped to encourage friendly social interactions with other guests. Nina is the dessert chef extraordinaire and Darren’s main meals were delicious. There is a standard all day menu and daily specials each night to tempt hungry guests. All very well priced.
The Humpback Whale tours were a highlight. Jody and Darren really knew their way around these waters, offering an incredible swim with the whale experience that we will never forget.
The bathrooms are very average and are shared. But when staying at such an amazing place that was not important.
We think this is undoubtedly the best place to stay in Foa and represents incredible value. For the experience of a life time come to Foa Island and stay at Matafonua resort. Thanks to Darren, Nina and all the staff.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank ausigirlcat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
95 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 108 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 15, 2013

My friends and I have just returned from a trip to Tonga. The highlight was our stay at Matafonua Lodge.

Darren and Nina were fantastic hosts. Darren is 'King of Toys and Fun' while Nina is calm, gentle, organised and a fantastic cook and her white chocolate mousse is to die for. Without Nina we may still be in Toga as there were some issues with the domestic airline but she was tireless in helping anyone who was stranded - she should be commanding an army somewhere!

While on Foa I stayed at both Matafonua and Sandy Beach and Matafonua was by far the better. Sandy Beach was adequate and offers more mod cons but Matafonua offerred us:

- better atmosphere
- a more realistic Tongan experience
- better, friendlier and happier staff
- much better food at better prices
- a more personal touch - it's a bit like joining their family

There is a lot to do there but doing nothing is just fine. The fales are simply but comfortable. Each has a deck at the front, perfect for sitting and taking in the views. The shared toilet and shower block is clean and an easy walk along a sandy path and quite a pleasant walk under the stars at night. The grounds are safe and very child friendly.

We did 2 whale swim days and I will treasure those experiences forever. The reef around the Lodge is full of fish and the coral is plentiful and colourful.

Would I go back? The answer is 'I wish I was there right now'.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
5 Thank Jennifer L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 14, 2013

Many thanks to Nina and Darren for creating this great place and the wonderful hospitality. Many thanks as well to the team specially to the dive guides Jody and Gary ! :-) Don't miss Ninas' dessert and the Friday night BBQ!

  • Stayed August 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Binefive
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Matafonua Lodge

Property: Matafonua Lodge
Address: Foa Road | Faleloa, Tonga
Location: Tonga > Ha'apai Islands > Foa Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Foa Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Matafonua Lodge 2.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A Pacific-style resort located on the spectacular Northern tip of Foa Island. Pristine white-sand beach, safe swimming and exceptional snorkeling. Thatched-wall beach-front fales with very comfortable King sized beds. Excellent restaurant/bar with great variety of meals and drinks.On site scuba diving school and seasonal whale watching and swimming excursions. Good library and games available for guest use. Friendly, easy-going owner/managers live on-site. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Matafonua Hotel Ha`Apai Islands
Matafonua Lodge Tonga/Foa Island

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