About This Trip
- A once in a lifetime opportunity to swim with humpback whales and snorkel coral gardens off the coast of Vava'u, Tonga.
- Observe unique whale behaviors from above and below the surface, including courting adults and playful calves.
- Tonga is the best place on Earth to swim with humpback whales, and our expert-led Tonga whale tours aim to maximize whale swimming encounters.
- Explore Tonga and experience authentic Polynesian culture.
- Enjoy 5 days dedicated to swimming with Tonga's humpback whales.
Our Tonga whale swimming tours were named one of National Geographic Traveler's "50 Tours of a Lifetime"!
Don't miss -> Tonga whale trip report including photos, recordings of whale vocalizations, and more!
Tonga's tropical waters are the mating and calving grounds for endangered humpback whales who migrate here annually from their feeding grounds in Antarctica. From July through November, the cows remain in Tonga to allow their newborn calves to grow in strength and stamina in preparation for their journey to summer feeding grounds in the south. The whales' prolonged presence in Tonga's calm, tropical waters creates a unique opportunity to observe and swim with humpback whales, and our expedition is designed around these experiences.
Off the beautiful coral formed island of Vava'u, we immerse ourselves in whale watching above and below the water's surface. From our comfortable beachfront accommodations we make daily excursions by private boat to snorkel with and observe the whales and other colorful marine life. On land, we will have a night out in Vava'u for dinner at a local restaurant, and a whale natural history presentation. Time will also allow for opportunities to learn about Tonga's unique culture, visit the local market, and to meet with local conservation groups, as well as enjoy a day of relaxation by the beach.
This is an unforgettable and intimate experience available in just a few places on Earth.
Wildlife Highlights – Tonga Whales
The focus of our trip will be to see and swim with humpback whale mother and calf pairs that reside here for several months each year. We will have the opportunity to observe many whale behaviors and may also hear the whales' beautiful songs.
We'll also take time each day to snorkel Tonga's beautiful and relatively untouched coral reefs that surround Vava'u, where we'll see a colorful array of invertebrates, fish, and corals.
Note: Good swimming ability in open ocean waters and some strength is required in order to participate in this expedition. If you are lacking in these areas, sea conditions could impact your total time in the water; the guides and captain will make these determinations for your safety.
Notes on Trip Costs
There is a single supplement fee of $1,100. Trip prices do not include international airfare. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions. We highly recommend Travel Insurance to protect your investment.
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Founded in 1969, Oceanic Society is America’s oldest 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to ocean conservation. As pioneers of “eco travel,” our expeditions have been designed to directly support our mission. They not only positively impact our travelers, but also the people, places, and wildlife we go to see. Your expedition costs include fees that support conservation and promote sustainable livelihoods in the communities we visit, and Oceanic Society's earnings are invested back into our global research and conservation programs. In 2019, we also established our Expedition Impact Fund (EIF) as a way to grow our impact. The fund is seeded annually with money earned from our expeditions, and supplemented by donations from Oceanic Society travelers. Through the EIF, we award grants to our partners for their on-the-ground efforts to protect ocean habitats and the wildlife and human communities that depend on them.
Dates & Prices
Aug 17-24, 2024
Sep 17-24, 2024
Day 1: Arrive in Tonga
Fly to Vava'u, Tonga (crossing the International Date Line), transfer to hotel. Most common route is from LAX- Nadi (Fiji) - Vava'u (Tonga)
Days 2–6: Whale Watching and Snorkeling
Full days spent whale watching, swimming with whales, and reef snorkeling. Typically we will head out at 9:00 am and return around 2:00 pm. We should be able to observe a variety of whale behaviors, from mother and calf interactions to the sometimes combative behavior of mature bulls. Humpback whales are the most acrobatic whale species, and will often perform spectacular displays of breaching, lob-tailing, spy-hopping, and fin-slapping. During times when we are not whale watching, we will have plenty of opportunities to snorkel along the nearby reefs. The sheltered waters of Vava’u offer a variety of snorkeling sites. Soft coral walls, large sea fans and an abundance of tropical fish and colorful invertebrates are found in these clear, warm waters. Set against the lush tropical coastline, we will also search for birds such as brown boobies, noddy terns, great frigate birds, and herons.
Sunday: Free Day
Sunday will be a day of leisure. By law, Tonga doesn't allow any activities to take place on Sundays. You can spend the day relaxing under the warm sun at the beach, snorkeling in nearby seagrass beds, or sea kayaking the area's calm waters.
Day 8: Fly Home
After breakfast you will be transferred to the Vava'u airport in time for your flight home.
AccommodationsParticipants will stay in double-occupancy rooms at the highly-rated, beachfront Tongan Beach Resort. This small resort, known for its great staff, features comfortable guest rooms and 180 meters of beachfront. All rooms are only steps away from the water’s edge and are fitted with electric ceiling fans with open entrances allowing for a natural sea breeze if desired. Each room has its own covered deck with a table and chairs to relax on. Daily excursions will be made by chartered boat, exclusive to our group.
Your expedition will be led by one or more of the following expert naturalist guides: