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Swimming with Humpback Whales in Tonga

Snorkeling with Gentle Giants

© Scott Portelli

The Kingdom of Tonga is a hidden gem in the South Pacific. A lush group of islands surrounded by thriving tropical reefs and clear blue water. Between July and October Humpback whales come to the archipelago of Tonga to mate and give birth. This spectacle of epic proportions gives us the chance to swim with the humpbacks and observe their behavior in this beautiful natural environment.

Snorkeling with Humpback Whales in Tonga

This land-based expedition offers you the unique opportunity to go snorkeling with humpback whales. The expert guides will take you out for daily snorkeling trips to have the most incredible humpback whale encounters. Humpback whales are curious creatures, and even though they are the giants of our oceans, underwater encounters are usually very gentle. While snorkeling with the whales, you will witness the bond between mother and calf and their unique interaction. The curious calves explore their environment and seek out interactions with the new world they have entered. It’s a privilege to observe these amazing creatures in their natural home and a life changing experience for anyone passionate about whales.

A team of award-winning photographers and professional marine biologists will be the tour leaders during your whale snorkeling expedition. They will share their experiences and knowledge about the humpback whale, and take you to the best secret spots around the islands. The time we spend snorkeling depends on the whales, weather and location. There are endless snorkeling spots to try and we attempt to stay out on the water for approximately 7 hours per day.

Programme

These land-based expeditions include 10 or 11 nights in premium (shared) accommodation on the island Vava’u, during which you will have 7 days in the water. Groups consist of only 6 people in order to maximise your time in the water with the whales. On snorkeling days, we usually embark around 7:30am for a full day of swimming with humpback whales and exploring the coral gardens, impressive caves and abundant marine life that Tonga has to offer.

This itinerary is an example, and things change often when you are on an Island in Tonga. The locals are on what we call ‘Tonga Time’, so don’t be  disappointed if the skipper is late, or your meals are not served on time, just relax and enjoy this tropical paradise.

Day 1 | Arrival to Vava'u

Once you arrive to the island of Vava’u, the driver will be waiting for you at the airport and will take you to your accommodation. Your guides will meet you for dinner and organise a briefing about the upcoming tour.

DAY 2 - 4 | Swimming with Whales & Snorkeling

Around 7.30am you will be picked up from your resort for a full day of swimming with humpback whales. We use a small boat with easy access into the water. You might encounter boisterous males, nurturing females and energetic calves, and may be lucky enough to join large groups of males on a heat run. We go snorkeling with those we think will be approachable and interactive. Lunch depends on the whales and afterwards we try to stop in a number of snorkeling spots each day. Around 4pm, you will return to your accommodation.

DAY 5 | Leisure day

Sundays are a time for rest in Tonga and most places are closed except for the cafes. You can still spend the day exploring the islands,  snorkeling near your resort or just relaxing on a beach.

DAY 6 - 9 | Swimming with Whales & Snorkeling

More whale swimming today, and a chance to experience some of the varieties of whale behaviour found in Tonga. You might encounter curious humpback calves, or the eery beauty of a singing male. In the afternoon, we might visit the legendary Swallow’s cave, or Mariners cave for some more exceptional snorkeling.

DAY 10 | Leisure day

Spend the day exploring the islands, snorkeling, diving, quad bike riding or just relaxing on a beach. There are plenty of activities to enjoy!

DAY 11 | Departure

Checkout at 10am. The driver will be waiting for you at your accommodation to take you to the airport.

Flights are not always reliable and it’s best to give yourself a buffer day before and after your trip. When flying interisland, flight times may be changed without notification, so make sure to check regularly with the airline.

Impression

How do I get to Tonga?

Our snorkeling expeditions take place from the island Vava’u. There are basically two ways to reach the island:

  • You can take a direct flight from from Nadi (Fiji) to Vava’u (Tonga) with Fiji Airways. In order to reach Nadi, there are direct flights from Los Angeles, San Fransisco, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore and multiple cities in Australia and New Zealand.
  • You can also reach Vava’u by by flying into the main island of Tonga, called Tongatapu. The capital city is Nukuʻalofa and the international airport is Fuaʻamotu International Airport. Nuku’alofa is accessible by flights via Australia (Virgin Australia), New Zealand (Air New Zealand) and Fiji (Fiji Airways). The local airline Lulutai Airlines offers domestic flights between the main island and Vava’u.

Dates & Rates

Swimming with Humpback Whales in Tonga

Land-based expedition with 7 days snorkeling
Dates and duration
27 Aug - 06 Sep 2025 11 days
n/a 6 passengers

From $ 7400 per person
More info

Other dates

Swimming with Humpback Whales in Tonga

Land-based expedition with 7 days snorkeling
Dates and duration
06 Sep - 17 Sep 2025 12 days
n/a 6 passengers

From $ 7750 per person
More info