The Best Whale Swimming Tours in Tonga
Seeing majestic humpback whales in their natural environment is a life-changing moment for many visiting Tonga. Tonga is one of the very few countries in the world where it is legal to swim with humpback whales following strict whale interaction laws. Below are just some of the whale swim tours in Tonga that are certified to share this incredible experience with you.
It’s important to note that whale swimming tours in Tonga follow a similar albeit loose structure: spending time searching for whales in the morning, hopefully swimming with whales, and then heading to an island or a snorkelling spot for lunch. If a morning whale swim is unsuccessful, then lunch may be had on the boat while searching some more, or the afternoon might be spent searching for whales or just watching from the boat if, for instance, a calf is too young to approach or whales are breaching. In short, these are tours with wild animals so no two tours are the same and a successful swim is never a guarantee. That’s why it’s often advised to book at least a couple of whale swims in Tonga in order to maximise your chances for a good swim. For more information, take a look at The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga.
With all of that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of our favourite whale swimming tours in Tonga!
1. Deep Blue Diving (Tongatapu)
With over 30 years of knowledge of Tongan waters, Deep Blue Diving is well worth considering for your whale swimming experience. They offer two boats, the most commonly used is their larger 15m boat. The boat carries up to 25 passengers with a crew-to-guest ratio of 2:1. Their larger boat means that they also cater to the elderly and disabled for whale watching, while also often being a more comfortable option for those more prone to seasickness. The boat travels at a calm and unhurried pace, taking a slower approach than smaller boat tours, which are said to feel less harassing to the whales and more comfortable for passengers. Other features of their tours include whale behaviour commentary, an onboard professional photographer and sometimes the opportunity to see rescued turtles released back into the wild.
They run tours from Faua Wharf in Nuku’alofa on Tonga’s arrival island, Tongatapu. Check out more options in Tongatapu in the 8 Best Whale Swim Tours on Tongatapu.
2. Ha’apai Whale and Sail (Ha’apai)
For whale swimming in Ha’apai, check out Ha’apai Whale and Sail. They are a long-established operator in the Ha’apai island group offering full-day whale watching and swimming experiences. The tours also offer you the chance to snorkel at one of the outer reefs depending on how your whale swim goes. Lunch and refreshments are provided on the tour to keep the energy levels up. Ha’apai Whale and Sail operate out of the Sea Change Eco Retreat but offer pick-ups from other selected accommodations. For many more operators in Ha’apai, check out the 5 Best Whale Swim Tours in Ha’apai.
3. Dolphin Pacific Diving (Vava’u)
In Vava’u, you have your widest range of whale swimming operators including Dolphin Pacific Diving. They have more than 12 years of experience with whale swimming in Vava’u, giving them a good knowledge of the whales’ behaviour. Another claim to fame is that they were the chosen company to host the BBC documentary series, Life. The boat capacity is only eight, while lunch and all of the essential snorkelling gear are included. Check out more whale swimming companies in the 10 Best Whale Swim Tours in Vava’u.
4. Jones Business Ltd (Whale Song Tonga) (Vava’u)
Another great option in Vava’u is Jones Business Ltd, formerly Whale Song Tonga. Apart from an amazing whale swimming experience (depending on the whale’s behaviour, of course), the team offers a yummy barbecue on the beach. They operate two boats, the MV Ashlee G and the MV Kalo, one of which has an enclosed saloon in case the weather turns, as well as an upstairs deck providing a good perspective for scouting whales. Combine your time in Vava’u with some of the 10 Best Things to Do in Vava’u.
5. Falakiko Falemaka (Kiko’s Whale Watching) (‘Eua)
Get a real local experience, as well as local knowledge of the whales’ behaviour, with Falakiko Falemaka (formerly Kiko’s Whale Watching) or “Kiko” for short. Kiko has been operating whale swimming and watching tours from his small fishing boat in ‘Eua for more than 15 years. The boat has a limit of eight passengers, ensuring an uncrowded experience with the whales. Wetsuits, snorkels and fins are provided, but he only has a few masks, so those with their own masks are best bringing them along. Accommodation transfers are also included in the rate. Check out more options in ‘Eua in The Best Whale Tours in ‘Eua.
6. South Pacific Sea Adventures (Vava’u)
For something a little different, how about whale swimming from a 16m (53ft) classic yacht or a 13m (44ft) sailing catamaran? South Pacific Seas Adventures, also known as Melinda Sea Adventures, offers day sails with the whales, as well as multi-day package holidays. Set sail across the Vava’u, with a motor engine for backup, for a more tranquil boating experience with the whales. The day tours take only up to eight guests onboard, while private charters may have more guests on board if you choose. Prices start from approximately TOP$1,270. Learn more about their sailing tours in The Best Sailing Tours of Vava’u.
7. Endangered Encounters (Vava’u)
Another one in Vava’u, Endangered Encounters’ whale swimming tour is on their large 4x10m (13x33ft) but only for a small group size so there’s plenty of room. There’s even the added luxury of a full bathroom on board! But obviously, the main reason you might want to consider whale swimming with Endangered Encounters is for their experience swimming with whales, where they have operated tours since 2006.
8. Beluga Diving (Vava’u)
A popular dive operator in Vava’u, Beluga Diving also offers whale swimming tours in the whale season. Join them for a day searching and swimming with humpback whales with lunch, refreshments and all the gear you’ll need onboard the sturdy “Gladiator”. You might also want to hit them up for one of their dive courses, camping trips on uninhabited islands or something else.
9. Matafonua Lodge and Sandy Beach Resort
Last but certainly not least, if you’re staying in Ha’apai, you might want to check out the whale swimming operation at the sister resorts Matafonua Lodge and Sandy Beach Resort. The day out searching and swimming with whales includes lunch, which is enjoyed on the boat or on a beach depending on how successful your whale swim was or what guests prefer. They also have a good reputation for safety and an eco-friendly approach. See what it’s like to stay at these resorts in the 10 Best Resorts in Ha’apai.
[UPDATE] Tuna Moana (‘Uiha & Sons)
[Update: ‘Uiha & Sons is not operating for the current whale swimming season].
See the whales of Tongatapu on the whale swimming experience with Tuna Moana. The Tongan-owned and operated tour offers an eco-friendly approach to whale swimming, not only by being awarded the “most compliant whale watching business in 2019” from the Tonga Ministry of Tourism but by also operating a single-use plastic-free boat. As for the experience, high-quality snorkelling gear and wetsuits are provided, as well as lunch on one of Tongatapu’s idyllic outer islands.
[UPDATE] Taufatahi Charters
[Update: Taufatahi Charters is not operating for the current whale swimming season].
Another fantastic option from Tongatapu, Taufatahi Charters is owned by some of the most experienced whale swimming guides in this part of the country. They too take an environmental and ethical approach with no single-use plastic used on the boat and by hiring local guides. They encourage multi-day packages for whale swimming to ensure the best swim possible, as well as a range of other tours for snorkelling and island-hopping.
[UPDATE] Blue Water Retreat
[Update: Blue Water Retreat is not operating for the current whale swimming season].
Operating two custom-built vessels from Tongatapu, Blue Water Retreat provides small-group whale swimming tours for up to nine passengers per boat. They conveniently depart from Faua Wharf in Nuku’alofa, providing all the gear you need for an epic day searching and hopefully swimming with whales. While they do day trips, they also offer multi-day packages to maximise your chances of an incredible swim at a more affordable price. One of the multi-day packages offered is whale swimming in ‘Eua.
More About Whale Swim Tours in Tonga
That’s it for our list of the best whale swim tours in Tonga. For more about whale swimming tours in Tonga, take a look at more of our amazing literature:
- The Best Place to Swim with Whales in Tonga
- Is it Safe to Swim with Whales in Tonga?
- Where to See Whales in Tonga
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga.