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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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acca guest house

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Location
Duration
Price

Vava'u

8 days

3400 eur

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Price

acca 4star hotel 

4100 eur

Available dates 

21.8. – 28.8. 2023   

30.8. – 6.9. 2023     4 spots left

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, lunch, 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: 

    • Nice local guest house, Rooms for 2 with ensuite bathroom. Private room on request. 

    • 4* Beach-front hotel with pool, sea view, balcony and ensuite bathroom. Rooms for 2. Private room on request.

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.

 

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:

 

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: Guesthouse Vava'u / 4* Beach-front hotel

 

Days 2 - 4

Vava'u – Swimming with whales

We will spend three days on a private speedboat looking for different whale interactions. Mothers with their calves, mothers with escorting males,  single males, and groups of males. Each day can bring a new encounter.  Listen to the males singing and watch them breach clear of the water to impress a possible mate. Swim with gentle females as they attend to their newly born calves. Interact with playful whale calves. Vava’u is home to the best water visibility in Tonga and you can take amazing photos of your interactions.

In the evenings, we will return to the guest house that is situated in walking distance from the center where you can enjoy your dinner. 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: Guesthouse Vava'u / 4* Beach-front hotel

 

Day 5 

Sunday – Hiking Mount Talau

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.

 

We will spend this day hiking in Mount Talau National park. At 131m Mt. Talau is the highest mountain in Vava'u. A short hike to the top along marked trails will take us to four lookouts affording spectacular views of Vava'u and the outer islands around it. The flora of Mt. Talau includes many culturally significant plants and several species of trees that are considered rare and endangered in Tonga. Many birds (17 land species) and reptiles can be found on Mt. Talau. We will walk back into town through the villages for interesting sights like churches, pigs and roosters, that are running freely on this island.

Accommodation: Guesthouse Vava'u / 4* Beach-front hotel

 

 

Days 6 - 7

Vava'u – Swimming with whales

After the day of reltive rest, we can jump back on the private boat and enjoy two more days full of whale encounters. 

Accommodation: Guesthouse Vava'u / 4* Beach-front hotel

 

  

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