Every year between July – October each year since 1999, WhaleSwim have successfully operated ‘swim with humpback whales’ eco–packaged tours in the beautiful untouched islands of Vava’u Tonga, where the largest population of the humpback whales reside during this time. All of the tours focus on small group whale encounters for intimate, yet exhilarating experiences that will stay with you for many years to come! Like many who have joined us, you will be back for more! (The specially designed all inclusive eco-tours are NOT comparable with day-trips from island resorts or from jetty’s in Neiafu, Ha’apai & ‘Eua.)
Tongan Beach Resort spans 180 meters of beachfront with all 12 guest rooms enjoying views of the golden sand beach and crystal clear turquoise waters of the Port of Refuge Harbour..
All rooms are only meters away from the water’s edge and are fitted with electric ceiling fans with open entrances allowing for a natural sea breeze if desired. Each room has its own covered decked balcony with table and chairs to relax on.
Inside guests will enjoy the comfort of a super-king bed, electric ceiling fans, separate bathroom with a toilet and hot and cold water showers, tea and coffee making facilities, refrigerator, in-room safe, iron and ironing board, hairdryer, beach towel and complimentary bathroom amenities.
Our rooms are designated non-smoking; however you are welcome to smoke cigarettes/cigars outside your room. A clamshell is on your deck for use as an ashtray.
Beachfront Double Rooms
Accommodate up to 2 adults, either double (super-king bed) or twin configuration
Beachfront Family Rooms
Accommodate a family of 2 adults and up to 2 children or 4 adults.
Check-In / Check-Out
Rooms are serviced daily. Feel free to ask for extra towels, pillows, drinking glasses and milk etc if required during your stay.
If you are not due to depart until the afternoon for your flight, check with us the day prior to your departure to see whether your room is required for incoming guests. If your room is not needed you are welcome to enjoy it until your departure at no additional cost. If your room is needed you are welcome to stay and spend the day with us at the Resort – you can leave your luggage in the Office.
“MV Blue Sky”
Our fabulous (newly acquired) whaleswim boat ‘Blue Sky’, is a 9.8m (30ft) aluminium catamaran. The two inboard engines are each 350hp, so we have plenty of speed when required. Being a catamaran it is wide and extremely stable in the water, especially if the sea is choppy.
The canopy over the cock-pit area gives excellent protection from the sun and for the sun-lovers, the area on the bow is perfect!
The fly-bridge area is accessed by ladder, and has seating for 5 people as well our skipper, Patello. This is the best position for him to see where the whales are around the boat. The new canopy has now been fitted over the fly-bridge and clear plastic protection windows for windy, wet days. This is the best place to be to spot whales.
There is plenty of seating inside and outside of the cabin with a fully enclosed marine toilet inside the cabin.
Blue Sky is a very comfortable vessel, it’s very stable in choppy seas, lots of shade and shelter therefore its design is perfect for whale-swimming!
The advantage of inboard motors is the easy access in and out of the water. There is easy access to the water from a ‘duck’ board and 2 strong ladders to get aboard easily from the water. We find that the humpbacks really like the quieter rhythm of an inboard motor, which supports our strong non-harassment policy.
There is even a fresh-water shower in the cockpit, to rinse off the salt water!
We plan to take our guests on each tour, 23 kms to the island of Toku for a day, where there are many humpback whales. Its takes about 1 hour to get to Toku Island. However, it has to be a good weather and calm seas for us to do this.
If is possible during your tour, we will be departing 30mins earlier than the usual time and there will be an extra cost of TOP$100 per person. All guests must agree for us to do this. Its a very special place and well-worth the experience. More about this on our Welcome lunch or dinner.
We look forward to having you aboard and sharing experiences of a lifetime with you!
Skipper: Lo Takau Our whale-whispering skipper Patelo, (or Lo for short) has been on the water with the whales for the past 8 years, he also has been in the water with them as a Guide, for the same amount of time.
His 8 years experience and his love and affinity with the whales, has finely tuned his intuitiveness and his boat skills so the humpbacks are never threatened by noise or motion – especially around mothers and calves.
Lo was the skipper for the BBC’s ‘Blue Planet’ film crew for cameraman Doug Allen, over a period of 8 weeks.
He get lots of thanks from our happy guests, after great swims with the whales every day!
Our Photographer’s whaleswim boat ‘Dreamcatcher’ is perfect for our photography tours! It has comfortable seating, an enclosed marine toilet The inboard motors means there is a wide duck-board for easy access into the water with cameras getting in and out the water.
There is easy access to a huge dry area for everyones camera gear.
Dreamcatcher has plenty of speed getting to different locations around the islands when required. The inboard engine is quiet and the whales love it!
Weather and sea permitting, there may be an opportunity on each tour to depart early for Toku Island to the north of Vava’u, for a day. The days we have been there, there are many whales in the area. The cost of will be TOP $100 – for the extra fuel for the day – to be paid in cash to the owners of DreamCatcher.
Skipper: Ali Takau
Our other whale-whispering Skipper (and sometimes Guide) Ali, (brother to Lo) has also had 10 years experience as Skipper and Guide. Ali works his magic with a quiet authority and a big smile, thats wins the hearts of our guests. He had the opportunity to go to the UK several years ago for the months outside the whale season, to work as diver for the police in London.
July is an exciting time in Vava’u with the whales all arriving together in numbers!
Its a great time to be in Vava’u to swim with the whales! They congregate around the islands for several weeks after arrival, especially good time for the newborns and groups of marauding male humpbacks vying for supremacy in the group and looking for a buxom-beauty to mate with.
The gentle female giants of the sea give birth in the tropical waters of Vava’u to ensure the safety of their new born calves. You will be witness to the bond and the gentleness between mother and calf and the unique behaviour that can only be experience by observing these amazing creatures in their natural environment.
Your days on the water vary, from looking for whales (that are happy to have you in their environment), hanging out with a mum and her cute calf, floating on the surface above a male humpback singing his lungs out, a bunch of marauding males vying for position next to a female to a lone juvenile looking for some fun, each day is different. Most days we take a break to snorkel the wondrous caves or investigate the many coral reefs teaming with tropical fish and hundreds of other marine life, time permitting.
Jen Prerau, our Marine Biologist who has worked with whales for 18 years, will be aboard with you each day with whale education and collecting I.D. data for two Humpback whale identification libraries. You can participate as much or as least as you chose.
Jen is also a whizz with GoPro Cameras – if you decide to purchase one from us, she will have you shooting like a pro within a couple of days!
We head back to your accommodation in time for a hot shower with time to relax and watch the sunset before dinner.
Enquire about this trip
Itinerary & Schedule
The mornings are spent locating, watching and swimming with the whales. Some days we find them easily and other days it takes a little longer! Remember, they are ‘in the wild’ and not in an aquarium!
You will experience different whale encounters during your days on the water.
Your swims with a mother and calf are usually gentle and wondrous. If the calf is inquisitive, they love to come close and check us out and some ‘show off’ by somersaulting and spiralling around us. They seem happy to have something to play with!
Sometimes a mother and calf will be ‘escorted’ by a male humpback, waiting for his chance to get ‘lucky”! There may also be a second male challenging the other male ‘escort’. This encounter may not be as peaceful and gentle as when the mum and calf are on their own, however they are just as incredulous.
Then there is the young juveniles (one year olds) that return to Tonga and are ‘dropped off’ by their mothers, to begin life on their own. These encounters with an exuberant young whale can be fun and can certainly get your adrenalin pumping!
So can being in the water with a ‘courting’ couple! In this situation, we careful gauge whether they are aware of us being in the water – or not. If they are only focused on each other, we do not enter the water with them. This also applies to a ‘heat-run’.
A ‘heat-run’ is a bunch of male humpbacks on the hunt for a female. She can be in the pod and each male fights for the closest position to the female or they could be on the look-out for one. In either case, its very exciting to watch from the boat.
Another thrill is to be in the water with a singing humpback whale! If we are above them, then can experience the sound vibrating through our body – its truly unforgettable and can bring a tear to your eye. We have a hydrophone aboard which allows us to find the location of the singing whale – being in the water above them is like nothing else!
We also see the lone males or females, who are usually on the move and not interested in us. Other behaviours you may witness from the boat are, spy-hopping, head-lunging, fluke-slapping, pec slapping and breaching.
We take a break for lunch, usually at a prime snorkelling spot like the Japanese Gardens or Nuku Island, in a wondrous cave (Swallows or Mariners) or one of the beautiful uninhabited islands.
The afternoons are much like the mornings, locating the whales and have more interaction before heading back to your resort at around 3.30 – 4pm.