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 on 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 Ha’apai 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…
Why Do Whale Swimming in ‘Eua
Unless you’ve been hiding in a shell like a hermit crab, whale swimming is a big deal across the four main island groups of Tonga. So, why choose to swim with whales in ‘Eua?
‘Eua has a very small selection of whale tours that have a respectable approach to swimming with whales. You never have that feeling of “too many boats” on the water and whales being harassed, as you would in island groups like Vava’u. Whale swimming opportunities are also very close to shore, which means you won’t have to sit through a long boat trip before you get to the whales. The visibility is often some of the clearest from ‘Eua, which makes for some amazing underwater viewings of the whales among the expansive deep blue ocean.
Finally, you don’t even need to hop on a boat to watch whales from ‘Eua, as it’s very common to see them from shore – more on that towards the end of this guide!
For more of a comparison, check out The Best Place to Swim with Whales in Tonga.
Blue Water Retreat
Offering one of ‘Eua’s most iconic accommodations, Blue Water Retreat also offers both full-day whale swimming tours and multi-day ‘Eua whale swim holidays with accommodation and all meals provided. Whether you want to make your getaway all about whale swimming or just a taste, they have the package to suit!
Whale swimming is from one of Blue Water Retreat’s three 10 ft 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 well-maintained wetsuits. A healthy albeit light lunch is also provided in a reusable lunch box (no, the same can’t be said for other whale tours across Tonga).
Onboard are a licensed and usually very passionate professional whale swimming guide/marine biologist, as well as an experienced skipper who has been boating on ‘Eua’s waters for years. The team have a very respectable approach to the whales; they go through some house rules and legal regulations and have a practice swim with swimmers before interacting with the whales.
Either join the team just for the day or their seven-day packages also include seven nights’ accommodation at Blue Water Retreat, all meals, transfers from the wharf/airport, a half-day land tour and more. Learn more about Blue Water Retreat in the Where to Stay on ‘Eua: The Best Accommodations.
Kiko’s Swim with Whales Tours
Get the real local experience, as well as local knowledge of the whales’ behaviour, with Kiko’s Swim with Whale Tours. Kiko is a certified whale swimming guide, which you can learn more about the importance of in The Guide to Whale Swimming in Tonga.
Kiko is a local fisherman who started operating whale swimming and watching tours from his small fishing boat more than 15 years ago. The boat has been upgraded to a vessel that’s low to the water and shaded from the sun, providing a comfortable whale-watching experience. There is a limit of eight passengers, keeping with legislation and ensuring an uncrowded experience with the whales.
Onboard is also a passionate whale swimming guide, typically an expat volunteering for the season, who will guide the experience in the water and ensure a safe and respectable swim with the whales.
Wetsuits and fins are provided, but Kiko only has a few masks and snorkels, so those with any of their own gear are best to bring them along. Accommodation transfers are also included in the rate, as is breakfast and lunch.
Speaking of rate, Kiko’s Whale Watching has got itself a reputation for being the cheapest in the country for many years. Although it is now the same price as some operators in Tongatapu and Vava’u, it’s still on the more affordable end of the spectrum. However, if you don’t see whales during the trip, you only are required to pay for fuel costs; not the full cost of the tour – typically a TOP$150 shared cost with other boat passengers.
Kiko’s also hosts one of the largest guesthouses/backpackers on ‘Eua, complete with a small restaurant; ‘Alakoka Tahi Moana Guest House (more commonly known as Kiko’s). Learn more about it in the 5 Best Guesthouses on ‘Eua.
Watching Whales from Land on ‘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 accommodations 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 is 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 and 10 Best Things to Do in ‘Eua.
More About the Best Whale Tours in ‘Eua
That’s it for our list of the best whale swim tours in ‘Eua. For more about whale swimming tours in ‘Eua, take a look at more of our amazing literature:
- 5 Ways to Get to (& Around) ‘Eua
- The Best Place to Swim with Whales in Tonga
- 10 Best Things to Do in ‘Eua