Swimming with Humpback Whales

In Tonga’s Remote Tropical Ha'apai Islands


Each summer, humpback whales migrate more than 3,000 miles from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to the Kingdom of Tonga to court, mate, and give birth in the pristine, warm waters. On this journey, we bring you one of the great thrills of the natural world: the chance to swim and snorkel close to humpback whales. We’ll have exhilarating encounters with them, including seeing spyhopping, breaching, and mother-calf interactions. In addition to our adventures with whales, we paddle sea kayaks, snorkel above extensive coral reefs, and meet the local islanders, who welcome us with time-honored hospitality. Our Tongan-style lodge is set right on a white-sand beach.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-8
Whale Watching / Snorkeling / Kayaking

A flight from Tongatapu, Tonga’s capital, brings us to an island set in the outer archipelago of Tonga that sees few visitors. Our days on this palm-fringed island follow the rhythm of the whales and the weather. Here we’ll have the opportunity to swim with humpback whales in their natural environment, one of the greatest wildlife experiences the natural world has to offer, and Tonga is one of the few places in the world where you are allowed to do this. We’ve chosen the best time of year for our adventure. The whale season starts in June, but we select the later months because the whales are more settled and relaxed, providing better opportunities to snorkel with them. We seldom have to travel far before sighting the first whales of the day. Setting out by boat each morning, we search for these magical creatures, and when we find them, we slip into the water, and have the thrill of swimming alongside them. We’ll stop at times to listen for the haunting sounds of whale song, perhaps hearing male humpbacks’ elaborate “ballads,” whose stanzas evolve over generations. Our in-water encounters range from swim-bys, where the whales simply swim past us as we snorkel (sometimes changing course to get a closer look at us) to extended courtship displays. Afternoons are for snorkeling, kayaking, or biking around the island. Our kayaking adventures include the channel between Nukunamu and Ha’ano Islands, and we’ll beach our kayaks to snorkel among brilliant Moorish idol, butterflyfish, wrasse, and clownfish. We also watch for the elegant stingrays and sea turtles that inhabit these reefs. Depart on Day 8 via Tongatapu.



Swim with humpback whales—the experience of a lifetime!
Sea kayak and snorkel, optional paddleboarding
Enjoy your beachfront cabana set in a tropical garden, with sunrise views from your lanai
Stargaze in clear skies under the Milky Way
Learn about the skills of early Polynesian navigators


Length: 8 days
Cost From: $5895  
Arrive: Tongatapu, Tonga
Depart: Tongatapu, Tonga
Lodging: 7 nights Tongan-style beach resort
Meals: All meals included as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Snorkeling, Wildlife & Natural History, Cultural Adventures, Sea Kayaking, Whale Watching
Trip Level:

Swimming with whales, snorkeling, sea kayaking, beachcombing

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