Snorkelling and Scuba Diving in Ha’apai
With around 62 islands and only two scuba diving operators, the dive sites of Ha’apai remain uncrowded and pristine. Dive among some of the tiniest colourful nudibranchs and snorkel with some of the largest mammals with humpback whales in the clear waters of Tonga’s central island group. The two most recognised dive associations are represented on the island, SSI and 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 available to guide you through your diving experience in this guide to the scuba diving tours in Ha’apai.
For more scuba talk, take a look at 9 Best Scuba Diving Tours in Tonga.
Quick Facts About Diving in Ha’apai
- The water temperature in Ha’apai is 21-28ºC (69.8-82.4°F) year-round making for comfortable diving
- The visibility is rarely less than 20m (65ft) but more commonly 30m+ (100ft)
- Be sure to 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
- One of the must-do dives is Hot Spring Cavern, which is found at 25m 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.
Learn more about diving in Tonga with our Guide to Scuba Diving in Tonga.
Ha’apai Beach Resort
Ha’apai Beach Resort represents the Scuba Schools International (SSI) presence on the islands of Ha’apai, offering a range of recreational dives and courses. Based on the island group’s main island, Lifuka, the Ha’apai Beach Resort has two dive vessels to get you to the stunning dive sites some 20 to 45 minutes away.
The SSI dive centre takes a relaxed approach to diving, i.e. long and slow, but not when it comes to safety with dives not exceeding 30m and providing high-quality Mares scuba diving equipment.
The type of dives that the Ha’apai Beach Resort offer include boat dives, exploratory dives to the latest “new spots”, shore dives at their house reef, night dives at their house reef, Discover Scuba sessions for beginners and a range of SSI scuba diving courses. They also offer gear hire and air fills to 200BAR.
Snorkelling trips to the outer reefs by boat are also available, which include snacks in between snorkelling sessions.
Learn more about the Ha’apai Beach Resort as an accommodation in the 10 Best Resorts in Ha’apai.
The only PADI dive resort in Ha’apai, Matafonua Lodge is well worth considering for your dive holiday in the beautiful Ha’apai. From affordable beach diving amidst the resort’s 400m (1,300ft) 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 diver.
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 10 Must-Dos 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.
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.