Every year Humpback whales migrate to Tonga’s warm tropical waters from their summer feeding grounds in Antarctica, and Tonga is the only country in the world where it is legal to swim with whales in their natural habitat. These gentle giants start arriving in June, and most new calves are born between July and September. Boisterious courtship displays, male competition, and mothers caring for their calves make this an exciting time to be watching whales in Tonga.
By October many of the new calves are old enough to travel, and by November, most of the whales have left Tonga’s territorial waters to begin their journey south to the nutrient-rich waters of Antarctica where the whales gorge themselves on krill. They do not feed on their winter breeding grounds and must subsist on fat reserves stored in their blubber through the season.
About whale swimming and whale watching in Tonga
Swimming with whales is a privledge whale-watch and whale-swim operators in Tonga do not take lightly. There is a delicate balance between viewing and “harrassing” whales, and operators have developed a code of conduct to help insure the population of humpback whales that migrate to Tonga find a safe and peaceful haven in the Kingdom. We feel contact with these ancient and gentle creatures inspires our guests to participate in the worldwide effort to protect them. And bringing tourists to Tonga to see the whales, ensures a sustainable economic benefit to Tonga that will help them fend off the pressure from some ex-whaling nations to resume “harvesting” whales.
South Pacific Sea Adventures is a special operator
South Pacific Sea Adventures offers the only live-aboard whale watching tours in Vava’u. Sleep aboard our 52′ sailing yacht Jocara, which is comfortable and stable, and during the day whale watch aboard our 6-meter motor skip, Ikuna, which we moor alongside Jocara each night.
This two-boat whale watch adventure provides a unique opportunity to anchor among Vava’u’s outer islands, which are closer to the whales, and get an early start each morning. Our guests are closer to the action and become totally immersed with whales before other operators have left the harbor in Nieafu. We brief each of our guests carefully on protocol in the water. We are well known by research groups and have up-to-date information on whale movements and behavior. It is typical to see single whales, mother and calf pairs as well as groups of seven to ten. Do not be surprised is you hear whales songs throughout the night.
Most of our guests spend from three to six nights onboard our comfortable yachts. Meals are delicious with an emphasis on healthy fare, fruits and fish. Evenings can be spent reviewing photos from the day, learning more about the whales, or just relaxing under the stars.
(in US dollars)
$550 per person, two people
$430 three people
$375 four or more
Rate includes full-crew, accommodations, meals and gear rental—snorkel, mask and fins. Alcohol is available but not included in the rate.
Day Trip Rate
(in US dollars)
$175 per person, 3 person minimum, or
$1,000 flat rate to book the day exclusively for your party (maximum of six people)
Rate includes lunch and gear rental (snorkel, mask and fins), but not alcohol