July 16, 2019 • Travel Ideas
Our newest trip combines two of the best ocean destinations in the South Pacific. This spectacular snorkeling adventure begins in Tonga with humpback whale encounters and concludes with snorkeling in Fiji’s amazing shallow coral reefs. Dive in for a peek at this one-of-a-kind itinerary!
Our trip begins in Tonga, an island nation comprised of around 170 islands, though fewer than 40 are inhabited! We spend 5 days on the Tongan island of Vava’u, snorkeling in the clear, warm waters and swimming with southern humpback whales in their natural habitat.
Calm, warm waters near Vavaʻu, Tonga © Doug Perrine
The sheltered waters of Vava’u offer a fantastic array of snorkeling sites. From the abundance of tropical fish and cryptic invertebrates to diverse corals, these warm waters are teeming with marine life to see. The tropical coastline of Tonga is home to some unique seabirds too; be on the lookout brown boobies, brown noddy terns, great frigatebirds, and herons.
The almost innumerable small islands and reefs create sheltered waters that are not only ideal for the nurturing of baby whales, but also for swimming with them. © Doug Perrine
An Oceanic Society traveler snorkels near a humpback. © Doug Perrine
Swimming with whales, under permit and following prescribed protocols, has been sanctioned in Tonga since the early 1990’s. Whale swimming has not only been beneficial to the Tongan economy, but also to the whales themselves. Ecotourism was a major factor in the decision to end whaling in Tonga, and continues to provide a critical counterbalance to the attempts of whaling nations to influence Tonga to revive whaling in the Kingdom.
Southern humpbacks make an epic 3,000+ mile migration each year from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to bear their calves, cavort, and conceive next year’s brood in this tropical paradise. ©Doug Perrine
These spectacular giants are some of the most acrobatic whales in the ocean and can be seen breaching, lob-tailing, spy-hopping and fin slapping. We may also have the incredible opportunity to listen to the whales sing and, in the words of our naturalist Doug Perrine, “experience the unforgettable and haunting sensation of having [our] bodies vibrate like sounding boards from eerie noises emanating from the depths.”
After a short flight we arrive in the island nation of Fiji, which has more than 300 islands and some of the South Pacific’s best coral reefs. We spend 5 days exploring the shallow coral reefs surrounding Beqa Island.
A colorful reef scene in Fiji. © Roger Harris
Fiji’s beautiful crystal clear waters are a haven for any snorkeler, boasting a high diversity of marine plants and animals. Known as the “soft coral capital of the world,” while snorkeling here we can expect to see a plethora of soft corals and large sea fans, as well as equally vibrant and plentiful hard corals.
We’ll visit multiple snorkel sites each day to take in the amazing marine biodiversity that Fiji has to offer, and we’ll also take some time to relax on Fiji’s white sand beaches under the palm trees in the afternoon. As the sun goes down, enjoy a presentation from your naturalist about the coral reef ecosystems and the global issues that may have an impact on them.
You will have ample opportunity in both countries to also explore the rich cultural heritage that each location has to offer. © Roger Harris
One of the highlights of our time in Fiji will be learning about the coral restoration efforts of our local conservation partners; we will learn about the difference between healthy and unhealthy corals, and about how to restore unhealthy areas. At many snorkel sites we will also see iconic reef fish species including several species of clownfish, angelfish, and butterflyfish in the crystal clear ocean. Beyond colorful fish, you’ll also have the chance to search for brightly colored nudibranchs, bright red Christmas tree worms, hell’s fire anemones, and green turtles, among the many other unique species that call Fiji’s reefs home.
The shallow water wonders of Fiji will have you captivated anytime you submerge in the warm water! © Roger Harris
Are you ready to dive in? Our Tonga and Fiji: Whale and Reef Snorkeling Adventure is booking now!