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TONGA: Humpback Whale Paradise

Swim with whale mothers and their calves in crystal clear ocean

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The remote islands of Vava’u are very possibly the most mesmerising place you will ever have a chance to visit. Deep blue water, empty white-sand beaches, and green rain forests. It’s a paradise where humpback whales come to give birth and raise their calves, and you can swim with them. 

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Location
Duration
Price

Vava'u

8 days

4100 $

Available dates 

AUGUST 19 – AUGUST 26  2023    

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About this Trip

About this trip
  • For: 6 people

  • Duration: 8 days

  • Boat: Day trips on a private boat

  • Number of days in the water: 5

  • Food: breakfast, and snacks included

  • Conditions: outside temperature: 30°C , water temperature: 26-28°C

  • Skill requirement: Good swimming skills 

  • Pick up location: Vava’u International Airport (VAV)

  • Accommodation: 

    • Beautiful Tongan beach-front hotel with pool, sea view and ensuite bathroom. Rooms for 2. Private room on request. ( photos in gallery ) 

Enjoy the taste of “anga fakatonga” - the Tongan way of life. The Kingdom of Tonga is part of the countries and cultures that make up French Polynesia, a place where the time dances to the rhythms of the ocean and where the people still proudly retain their authentic culture and traditions. Tonga pulsates with cultural identity and you will be able to admirethe traditional arts and handicrafts of Tongan craftspeople and their graceful and dignified dancing rituals. People here are connected by unity and a respect for tradition that you simply won’t find anywhere else.

 

From authentic traditional culture to wild animal interactions - the warm, clear waters surrounding the islands of Vava’u in French Polynesia are a safe place for humpback whales to give birth and raise their calves. And there are so many of them. Just 30 minutes boat ride from the marina you can start spotting the first ones passing by. And it is an exceptional sight. You will be able to watch these majestic creatures and their gentle, elegant movements from up close. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where you are allowed to be in the water with these magnificent creatures and swim with them. 

 

Humpback whales mate and calve in the waters around Vava'u, so you're likely to see a variety of whales and behaviors. There are three different whale interactions we can be lucky to encounter. The first one is witnessing the magical bond between the mother and her calf relaxing close to the ocean surface. The second is observing a heat run of more than four males chasing the female, and the third is admiring the beautiful mating rituals of whales. We will spend five days in the water, trying our best to get as close encounters with the whales as possible.

 

We let the whales take charge of the encounter and we are always very respectful of their behavior. Swimming with whales is highly regulated in Tonga. Only certified vessels may put swimmers in the water and no more than four clients can be in the water with one pod of whales. This assures the protection of their well-being and it also means that your interaction will be a very intimate one.

 

The feeling when a 15-meter mammal makes eye contact with you and then slowly closes its eyes in a sign of trust with the safety of your presence with her newborn calf is indescribable. This place is also a paradise for photographers, visibility goes forever and the whales get very close to the lenses. As a plus, there are a few beautiful caves around with a perfect light to get some nice freediving shots.

 

Our mission is to protect the underwater world, educate people of all generations and explore the treasures the ocean hides in its depths. Our conservation activities are our top priority and we fund them through expeditions like this, and if you join us, you will help us move our vision one step further.

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Wildlife Highlights

Wildlife Highlights
  • Swimming with humpback whale mother resting, with the calf playing around.

  • Witnessing the first breaches of humpback whale calves.

  • Watching the male heat runs.

  • Listening to the males singing their songs to the female whales.

  • Observing the mating rituals of humpback whales.

  • Witnessing the humpback males escort the mothers and calves, waiting for the opportunity to mate before heading back to the Antarctic waters.

  • Opportunity to learn about the whales‘ biology and body language.

ITINERARY:

Itinerary

Day 1

Vava'u – Meeting and accommodation

We will pick you up at the airport and we will drive to the accommodation. Vava'u group of islands lies some 250 kilometers north of the main island of Tongatapu. The group is comprised of coral atolls,  small sandy islets, and larger uplifted limestone formations. The ocean around them changes its colors from mesmerizing turquoise to deep blue. These reef-protected waters are the place that humpback whales choose to give birth to and raise their calves. 

In the evening, we will give you a briefing about the whale behavior that you will be able to observe from up close in the following days.

Accommodation: Tongan beach resort, premium beach-front room

 

Days 2 

Sunday - relax, beach and snorkeling

It is a local law that we are not allowed to swim with the whales on Sundays. Sunday is a day where all business activities cease and most Tongans spend the day attending church services, resting and spending time with family. This day will be dedicated to relax, exploration of the small island your resort is situated on, and snorkeling in the crystal clear, turquoise ocean accessible from the resort’s beach. Here, you will be able to start to feel far away from the noise and clutter that technology, industry and busy lives brings. 

Accommodation: Tongan beach resort, premium beach-front room

 

Day 3 - 7 

Swimming with whales

Each morning, we will jump on a private speedboat and look for the best interactions with humpback whales and their calves. Humpback whales migrate here from the Artics. They come to the Polynesian calm and warm waters to mate and give birth to their calves. There are three different types of behavior that we will be looking for:

* The first one is witnessing the special bond between the mother and her calf relaxing close to the ocean surface. This is the time when she can decide to make eye contact with you, slowly close her eyes in a sign of trust, and let you play with her calf.

* The second is observing a heat run of more than four males chasing the female.

* The third is admiring the beautiful mating rituals of whales, listening to the males' beautiful songs, and watching them breach from the water to impress a possible mate.

Your private guide will explain to you all about the whales' behavior, rituals and biology and take professional underwater photos of your interactions.

In the afternoons, you will return to your resort that is nestled on the beachfront of the island of ‘Utungake. Vava'u is in the middle of the Pacific, and the stars in the night are unbelievably bright, thanks to very little light pollution.

Accommodation: Tongan beach resort, premium beach-front room

Day 8

End of expedition

Local flights in Tonga can be very unpredictable with dates and times. Please wait for our detailed information for this trip and instructions for booking your flight back home. 

Vava'u is a remote island and only local airlines operate here. The flights here can be canceled due to the logistics of the airport or bad weather. We will keep the communication with the airport and take care of everything to make your departure from Vava'u as smooth as possible. We will take care of your program and accommodation in Vava’u, in case of a delay of your flight.

 

 

How do you get to Vava'u?

We strongly recommend having at least two days extra before your flight to and from Vava'u. Please wait for our detailed information for this trip and instructions for booking your flight. 

 

  • Flying to Vava'u from Fiji: Fiji Airways flies direct from Nadi to Vava’u. This is the best option for those coming from the US. We recommend flying directly to Vava’u from Nadi as an easier and more reliable route than domestic connections within Tonga, particularly since the pandemic.

  • Flying to Vava'u from New Zealand: Your other option is to fly with Air New Zealand to Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu. REAL Tonga, the domestic airline of Tonga unfortunately went into liquidation in 2020 and the government replaced this with Lulutai airlines, which has no flights yet scheduled. We will provide you with according information for this flight.

GALLERY

Gallery