Snorkelling and Scuba Diving in Ha’apai
With around 62 islands and only one scuba diving operator, the dive sites of Ha’apai remain uncrowded and pristine. Dive among some of the tiniest colourful nudibranchs and snorkel at untouched outer reefs and with some of the largest mammals with humpback whales in the clear waters of Tonga’s central island group. The most recognised dive association is represented on the island, PADI, where it’s possible to get your first or next dive qualification or just enjoy experiencing one of the surreal dive sites of the Ha’apai islands on a recreational dive. We go through the dive companies, as well as the snorkelling tours available to guide you through your underwater experiences in this list of scuba diving and snorkelling tours in Ha’apai.
6 Quick Facts and Tips About Snorkelling and Diving in Ha’apai
Before we get started on the best scuba diving and snorkelling tours in Ha’apai, here are some quick facts to show how amazing these experiences can be:
- The water temperature in Ha’apai is 21-28°C (69.8-82.4°F) year-round making for comfortable diving
- The visibility is rarely less than 20 m (65 ft) but more commonly 30 m+ (100 ft)
- Book dive tours well in advance during the whale season (July to October) as some dive operators also run whale swimming tours at this time and book up quickly
- Snorkelling tours are only available outside of the whale season. Otherwise, you’re likely to do some reef snorkelling on whale swimming tours – see operators in the 5 Best Whale Swim Tours in Ha’apai.
- One of the must-do dives is Hot Spring Cavern, which is found at 25 m (82 ft) depth and has a hydrothermal vent supplying hot water to the cavern
- Sights on trips can include sharks, tuna and manta rays around 1,500 species of fish and 700 species of coral! Check out A Traveller’s Guide to Wildlife in Tonga to learn more about wildlife species.
Matafonua Lodge and Sandy Beach Resort
The only dive operator in Ha’apai, Matafonua Lodge (also operating its sister resort, Sandy Beach Resort) is well worth considering for your dive holiday in Tonga. From affordable beach diving amidst the resort’s 400 m (1,300 ft) house reef and marine reserve to boat dives to the rarely-visited pinnacles in the northern reaches of the island group, Matafonua Lodge has plenty of options for all levels of divers.
Matafonua Lodge prides itself on marine conservation and sustainability, including an established marine reserve right around the resort at the northern tip of Foa Island.
The PADI dive resort offers a range of recreational dives to suit a range of skill levels, taking you to coral gardens, swim-throughs, tunnels and pinnacles. They also offer PADI dive courses, including Intro Dives and Discover Scuba Diving, Scuba Refresher, Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver, Divemaster, Free-Diving Course and Kids Courses.
For more activities in Ha’apai, take a look at the 20 Best Things to Do in Ha’apai.
Ha’apai Beach Resort
Although no longer offering dive trips, Ha’apai Beach Resort is a fantastic option for snorkelling trips to the various reefs of Ha’apai. Join the crew for one of their snorkelling trips by boat with all of the snorkelling gear and snacks included. No two trips are the same, so there’s plenty of scope to see different spots if you happen to want to join a snorkelling trip multiple times during your visit.
Tours depart from the main wharf in Pangai, making this a good option for travellers staying on Ha’apai’s main island (or Ha’apai Beach Resort itself). Note that snorkelling trips are only available outside of the whale season. Learn more about Ha’apai Beach Resort’s whale tours in the 5 Best Whale Swim Tours in Ha’apai.
Plus, learn more about the Ha’apai Beach Resort as an accommodation in the 10 Best Resorts in Ha’apai.
Sea Change Eco Retreat
While not a scuba diving operator, Sea Change Eco Retreat does offer an affordable snorkelling tour from its accommodation in Uoleva Island. Only a minimum of two is needed for this boat trip that takes you to some of the pristine outer reefs of Ha’apai. Snorkelling gear is included in the trip if you need it, as well as tea/coffee and biscuits.
Note that snorkelling tours are only available during May and June before the whale season.
Sea Change Eco Retreat also has good snorkelling from the resort’s shores, so just ask the staff to point you to the best spots. Check out more snorkelling spots from shore in the 5 Best Places to Snorkel in Ha’apai.
More Snorkel and Scuba Dive Tours in Ha’apai
That’s it for our list of the best snorkel and scuba dive tours in Ha’apai. For more underwater experiences, take a look at the following:
- 10 Best Scuba Diving Tours in Tonga
- The Guide to Snorkelling in Tonga
- The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Complete Travel Guide to Ha’apai.