The Best Whale Swim Tours in Tongatapu 🐳 [2023]©
The Best Whale Swim Tours in Tongatapu 🐳 [2023]

5 Best Whale Swim Tours in Tongatapu & Nuku’alofa 🐳 [2024]


Swimming with Whales in Tongatapu

If you’ve found this list of the best whale swim tours in Tongatapu, then chances are you need no introduction to how life-changing swimming with majestic humpback whales can be. You’ve heard about it, now you want to know how to make the dream a reality! If you’re staying on Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, then these are the whale operators to consider.

It’s important to note that whale swimming tours are very similar in terms of the loose structure of the tours: all departing from Nuku’alofa and often spending the morning searching/swimming with whales and the afternoon heading to an uninhabited island for some snorkelling and lunch (this is with the exception of Deep Blue, who do shorter morning/afternoon tours). Depending on how well your whale swim has gone, you’ll then have more time to search for whales or simply enjoy snorkelling for longer. The difference between the whale tours lies in the boats, philosophies, crew and added inclusions. Learn more about the whale swimming experience and regulations in The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga.

So without further ado, here are some of our top recommendations for the best whale swim tours in Tongatapu and Nuku’alofa!

1. Deep Blue Diving

100% Tongan owned and operated and with over 30 years of knowledge of Tongan waters, Deep Blue Diving is well worth considering for your whale swimming experience! Unlike any other whale watching tours in Tonga, they offer five-hour trips, rather than the usual seven hours, with both morning and afternoon tours. Morning is the best time to go; departing at 7 am to experience calmer seas. Another advantage is that if your morning tour is cancelled due to Tonga’s ever-changing weather, you can always reschedule for the afternoon trip!

Deep Blue also offers two boats, the most commonly used is their larger 15 m (49 ft) boat. The boat carries up to 25 passengers (not that you often share a tour with that many) 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 often being a more comfortable option for those more prone to seasickness – it also has an onboard toilet! The boat travels at a calm and unhurried pace, taking a slower approach than smaller boats, which are said to feel less harassing to the whales and more comfortable for passengers.

Other features of their tours include whale behaviour commentary and sometimes the opportunity to see rescued turtles released back into the wild. Lunch is a homemade cooked meal in reusable containers. Deep Blue also operates scuba diving and snorkelling tours outside of the whale season, which you can learn more about in The Best Snorkel & Scuba Dive Tours in Tongatapu.

The Best Whale Swim Tours in Tongatapu 🐳 [2023]©

2. Tanoa Expeditions

For a full-day adventure with whales, join a whale swimming experience with Tanoa Expeditions. Whale watching tours with Tanoa Expeditions last the full seven hours per Tonga’s whale watching laws. With that, you’re day out on the water can be very flexible; swimming with whales in the morning if the whales are keen then enjoying lunch on a remote islet with fantastic snorkelling among the coral. Otherwise, you have all day to immerse in the best whale encounters if your group prefers. Better yet, the boat is comfortable enough to enjoy the latter, offering an inside sheltered section if things get a bit breezy, while there’s also a marine toilet on board.

Tanoa Expeditions features a few extra welcome touches, such as towels and sunscreen on board, while their all-local crew consists of a skipper, deckhand and a whale swimming guide. They have a very respectful approach to the whales, while also ensuring guests have a safe and fun time. Although Tanoa Expeditions accepts cash and credit card, operating out of the Tanoa International Dateline Hotel, note that there is a 4% credit card fee – that’s normal in Tonga, as explained in What is The Best Way to Pay in Tonga? Plus, learn more about the hotel in 20 Best Resorts & Hotels in Tongatapu.

The Best Whale Swim Tours in Tongatapu 🐳 [2023]©

3. Tuna Moana (‘Uiha & Sons)

A Tongan-owned and operated tour, Tuna Moana offer full-day whale swim experiences. Their modern boat is well-designed for optimum topside whale watching right around the vessel, as well as atop the crow’s nest! The boat is also pretty low to the water, making it even easier to get in and out of the water for swimmers. There are often two/three guides on the boat at a time with a maximum of eight guests onboard. All the usual fixings are included, such as lunch. If you have a good whale swim in the morning, you can ask to stop for lunch at one of Tongatapu’s stunning islets.

Tuna Moana is also part of JeZAmi Hotel in Nuku’alofa. Learn more about staying at their popular accommodation in the 20 Best Hotels in Nuku’alofa.

5 Best Whale Swim Tours in Tongatapu & Nuku'alofa 🐳 [2023]©

4. [UPDATE] Taufatahi Charters

[Update: Taufatahi Charters is not operating for the current whale swimming season].

Owned by some of the most experienced whale swimming guides in Tongatapu, Taufatahi Charters offers an ethical and eco-friendly approach to whale interactions. The team are dedicated to being a single-use plastic-free boat and hire local Tongan whale guides. They encourage multi-day packages for whale swimming across three or five days in order to achieve the best possible swims while you’re in one of the only countries in the world offering the experience. Their vessel is catered for up to 10 guests.

5. [UPDATE] Blue Water Retreat

[Update: Blue Water Retreat is now solely operating out of ‘Eua – see The Best Whale Swim Tours on ‘Eua to learn more].

Also known as “Whale Dive Tonga”, Blue Water Retreat operates two whale swimming vessels catering to small groups of up to nine guests. As well as day trips, Blue Water Explorer offers three-day and five-day packages to maximise your chances of having the best possible whale swim. The team prides itself on educating guests on the whales you’ll (hopefully) be seeing throughout the tour.

More About Whale Swim Tours in Tongatapu and Nuku’alofa

That’s it for our list of the best whale swim tours in Tongatapu and Nuku’alofa. For more about whale swimming tours in Tongatapu, take a look at more of our amazing literature:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga.


Laura (Lola) S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Tonga. She knows the islands inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Tonga’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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