HUMPBACK WHALE EXPEDITION
AUGUST 20 - 27, 2020
(8 day trip / 5 days whale swim )
5 of 8 Spaces
This is an 8 day trip with 5 days of swimming (snorkel only) with humpback whales off the island of Tonga. Ha’apai is a group of islands, islets, reefs and shoals in the central part of the Kingdom of Tonga. Humpback Whales migrate to these warm and calm waters off Tonga every year for 4 months to mate, give birth and nurse their young. The pregnant mothers find a safe place to give birth and then concentrate on getting their babies fit and strong for the 3,000 nautical mile trip back to their feeding grounds in Antarctica. Ha'apai is situated in the middle of the Tongan archipelago which provides a terrific nursery for the whales during their 4 month stay.
Day 1 - Travel day. Arrive on Ha’apai. 8:30AM flight. Once you arrive on the island. We help you check into your room, the rest of the day is yours to prep cameras, your snorkel gear, relax and explore the island.
Day 2 - 3 - We head out at 9am to and spend the next six hours at sea seeking out humpback whales to swim with. Every day is different, some days we will find the whales quickly, other days it may take a while. The length of the interactions vary, some days the mom’s are tolerant and allow long interactions with the calves. Other days, they do not want us around.
Day 4 - Sunday we are not allowed to go out on the boat (local law, everything closes.). So you have a choice of snorkeling the pristine reef, seeking out zebra sharks and other aquatic wildlife. Or you can spend your day on a kayak, or stand up paddle boarding, riding bicycles around the island. Or just relaxing on the beach and enjoying the day.
Day 5 - 7 - We return to the water to swim with the whales. The plan is to spend a total of 5 days seeking out the whales. Each day we will spend 6 hours at sea, seeking / swimming with the whales. Groups of 4 (with a guide) at a time are allowed in the water.
Day 8 - We will return you to the Ha'apai aiport for your journey home.
You will need to fly into Tongatapu (TBU) the night before to catch your 8:30am on arrival day. You can make your return flights from TBU after 2pm on travel day. You can travel to Tonga through Fiji, New Zealand or Australia.
This is a land based expedition. Each morning we will head out in search of the whales. Everyday will be different. Some days the whales may be easy to find and interested in interacting with us. Other days they may be elusive and want nothing to do with us. We can not guarantee that we will swim with them, because it is completely up to the whales. It is important to remember the whales are wild animals. However, these whales are extremely comfortable with people in the water and will often allow us to stay with them for hours. Our approach is to position the boat 200-300meters from the whale - watch and wait. If they show our captain (and licensed guide), signs that they are happy with our company, we enter the water. This approach proves effective time and time again, and we have had many, long encounters with moms and calves.
The lodging's are at Sandy Beach Resort.They are situated on a beachfront tropical garden setting. The comfortably furnished rooms have tiled floors and each fale has a private terrace with a view of the crystal clear Pacific Ocean. Fales may be configured with two twin beds or one king-sized bed and each has it’s own table, chairs, fan, wardrobe and tea and coffee making facilities. Spacious ensuite bathrooms have a large washbasin, WC and a large, fully tiled shower. There is plenty of solar-powered hot water with good water pressure.
On Sunday, we are not allowed to swim with the whales (local law). However, just a few feet away from your Fale is world class snorkeling. The nearby reef system and coral bombies, offer some of the South Pacific’s most unspoiled and rarely visited dive experiences. From soft coral gardens to hard coral bombies, this truly is a diverse marine environment. With regular sightings of the big stuff like zebra sharks and eagle rays, to colourful nudibranchs and spanish dancers, plus everything in between. Visibility averages 100ft /30m but can often exceed that, water temps here range from 24C (78 degrees) to 28C (86 degrees).
YOUR NEXT MOVE?
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Send us an email, ask us some questions, give us a call, (956) 279-8119.
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You may need to spend a day (or evening), on Tongatapu before your morning flight to Ha'apai. So while you wait, there are opportunities to photograph Tongan fruit bats, known as flying foxes. Thes animals are very big and exciting to photograph. In Nukualofa, Tongas skies are full of flying foxes at dusk. You can also try the trees (at dusk):
-mango tree opposite Cowleys bakery
- tree outside Dateline hotel
- Anywhere on the edge of the lagoon
- The field next to the Wesleyan (kings) church