In Tonga’s enchanting and remote Ha’apai Islands, we paddle sea kayaks, snorkel amid an abundance of dazzling tropical fish, and delight in encounters with the humpback whales who migrate here annually to court, mate, and bear their young. This is one of the few places in the world where you can swim right alongside these majestic creatures, and our heart-pounding experiences may include witnessing mother-calf interactions. Along the way, we meet the Ha’apai islanders, the friendliest in the Tongan kingdom, who welcome us with time-honored hospitality and Polynesian ‘umu feasts. Swimming with whales, fabulous snorkeling, sea kayaking in crystalline waters, and overnights in a traditional beach lodge set on a white-sand beach—this is true adventure in the South Seas!
A very well-organized and well-run trip. Snorkeling with the whales is one of my great lifetime experiences! Just awesome. And the Tongan people are so warm and friendly.
— Shelly A., New Haven, CT
Tongatapu / Snorkeling / Kayaking
From Tongatapu, fly to the remote Ha’apai Islands, a group of low coral isles with vibrant reefs and miles of deserted and utterly picture-perfect beaches. We enjoy excellent reef snorkeling right out the front door of our lodge, with colorful coral gardens featuring Moorish idol, butterfly fish, wrasse, and clown fish, as well as stingrays and sea turtles. At night, we stargaze under the bright Milky Way and learn how early Polynesians used the stars to navigate.
Whale Watching / Snorkeling / Kayaking
We’re off on our search for humpback whales! To swim with a 40-ton whale in its natural environment is surely one of the biggest thrills and greatest privileges the natural world has to offer. We set out by boat in search of them, with the chance for up-close observations of the whales as they breach, “spy hop,” and slap the water with their fins. Then, with snorkel, mask, and fins, we slip into the water and swim alongside them! (All appropriate protocol for safe whale interactions is observed.) In the late afternoons, we can snorkel, kayak, or enjoy a bike ride around the island. On Sunday, we’ll have the opportunity to attend a church service at a nearby village and listen to the renowned harmonies of Tongan singing. Depart on Day 9.