Whale Watching and Swimming in ‘Eua
Humpback whales make an amazing migration from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to the warm and sheltered waters of Tonga each year between June and November to mate and calve. ‘Eua is in the main path of their migration, making the island one of the best for watching and swimming with whales. The best time to experience the whales is in the height of the season, from July to October. ‘Eua has a very small number of whale operators compared to Tongatapu and Vava’u, but after reading this guide to the whale tours in ‘Eua, you might just decide that ‘Eua is the place for you to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience…
Watching Whales from Land in ‘Eua
‘Eua is famous for being the best island in Tonga to watch whales from land. The island runs adjacent to waters famous for “heat runs” where there are large pods of competitive whales. Whale mothers and calves are often seen closer to shore, with sightings around three times a day from the resorts and lodges on the west side of the island.
From the east side of ‘Eua, particularly from the Lokupo Lookout and Laua Lookout in the ‘Eua National Park, there are excellent views of the water over the Tonga Trench which is the main migrating path for whales and thought to be the main reason the whales migrate to Tonga. It is the world’s second-deepest ocean trench. Learn more about getting to the lookouts in the 5 Best Hikes in ‘Eua.
Kiko’s Whale Watching
Get the real local’s experience, as well as local knowledge on the whales’ behaviour, with Kiko’s Whale Watching. Despite what the name suggests, Kiko’s Whale Watching offers whale swimming too with your host, Kiko, who is a certified whale swimming guide. Learn more about the importance of certified guides in The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga.
Kiko is a local fisherman who has been operating whale swimming and watching tours from his small fishing boat 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.
Speaking of rate, Kiko’s Whale Watching has got itself a reputation for being the cheapest in the country for many years. However, it is now the same price as some operators in Tongatapu and Vava’u, albeit, the cheapest operators.
Kiko offers two whale swimming tours daily (except Sundays), one in the morning and one in the afternoon, lasting approximately two hours.
Deep Blue Diving
Run by the same owners as Ovava Tree Lodge, Deep Blue Diving run whale swimming tours in both Tongatapu and ‘Eua during the whale season.
Swim with the humpbacks with certified guides where there is a maximum of four swimmers with a guide at a time. While Deep Blue Diving operates one of the largest whale tour boats in Tongatapu, their ‘Eua boat is much smaller, fitting a maximum of eight passengers.
Whale tours last approximately four hours with one tour operating per day. The team take safety seriously, so do inform them if you have any issue with swimming in the open water. They have all the expected safety gear on-board and include all of the snorkelling gear, such as wetsuits, fins, masks and snorkels.
Snacks and bottled water are included in the tour, while lunch at Ovava Tree Lodge will be included when you return to land. Transfers from Ovava Tree Lodge are also included. Video and photo packages are available.
Blue Water Explorer
Also going by the name “Whale Dive Tonga”, Blue Water Explorer offers multi-day ‘Eua whale swim packages. Their ‘Eua Whale Swim package is a seven-day package, utilising the best five days for whale swimming (and, of course, avoiding Sundays due to Tongan law).
Whale swimming is from their small custom-made charter boats designed with whale swimming and diving in mind with ladders making it easy to get in and out of the water. There is a maximum of eight passengers on the boat.
All of the snorkelling gear is provided, including masks, snorkels, fins and wetsuits. On-board is a licensed whale swimming guide, as well as a marine biologist.
Their seven-day packages also include seven nights accommodation at Blue Water Retreat, all meals, beer and wine at dinner, transfers from Tongatapu to ‘Eua, daily transfers to the boat, half-day land tour on ‘Eua Island, a souvenir T-shirt and a hat, and limited daily WiFi.
Taina’s Place not only provides budget accommodation for travellers, but they also offer whale watching tours. It’s important to emphasise that their tours are for watching the whales only, not swimming. Taina’s Place has a license to watch whales from their small fishing boat.
Whale watching with Taina’s Place allows travellers to get closer to whales providing a better whale watching experience than what you would usually get on land. It also costs approximately half the price of the cheapest whale swimming tour, making it a much more affordable whale encounter.