About Us

How it all started…

The idea of WhaleSwim Adventures began in 1997 for it’s owner Rae Gill, when a friend from Europe told her about her experience of swimming with humpback whales in the Caribbean.
Rae felt overwhelmed by emotion and experienced  loads of energy (it was like moving pins & needles) racing around her body and then she started to sob. She knew she had to do this as soon as possible!
Three months later – just off the coast of the Dominican Republic, during her first encounter, she was eyeball to eyeball with a huge female humpback whale.  Within seconds she lost all sense of time and space – for 20 minutes, only becoming aware of where she was when she heard her name being called. . . the humpback whale was still there looking at her . . . .tears began to fill her mask and at that moment, she knew that her life-time passion was to make this experience available to as many people as possible to raise the awareness of the vital importance of the conservation of the whales of our oceans. That evening, the tour leader told her about the new swimming with whales industry just starting in Tonga. In August 1998, Rae travelled from Taipei (where she was living) to Vava’u, Tonga to check it out and the rest is history!

Rae runs her Out-bound Tour business (Inbound into Tonga and now into Tahiti) from her home office in Taranaki in the North Island of New Zealand. Each July – October, Rae and her passionate team of passionate whale conservationists head to Vava’u  in Tonga and to Moorea in Tahiti to chaperone her very special ‘packaged’ tour groups, providing the best  7 to 9 day expeditions for people from all around the world to snorkel with the humpback whales.

Rae books and pays for all her tour content – accommodation, licensed whale-swimming boats, meals, transfers etc for each tour – from New Zealand then she and her team of experts travel to Tonga and Tahiti for the season to make sure her guests are taken care of every step of the way,  making sure all flights and transfers and all the important details of her group tours run smoothly on the ground, and that all the guests needs are met by serving their lunches and snacks, giving all the whale information as it happens each day and making sure the guests have the best customer service possible.   Taking care of her guests personally had resulted in the best whaleswim packaged tours in Vava’u for the past 17 years and now a growing reputation for wonderful tours in Tahiti.

Her passion for the humpbacks and the love of the Pacific and the environment as well as her dedication to taking care of those ‘details’ for every one of her guests to insure they have the most unforgettable experience of their life, is unsurpassed by any other operator in these destinations.

Love to chat to you about our tours – see our Freephone numbers at the bottom of this page!


(This calf is new! Still silver and no scratches yet! So inquisitive and Mum was just chilling!)


WhaleSwim Adventures is committed to whale conservation and fully supports the non-harassment policies of the Whale watching/Whale-swimming Legislation 2013  in Tonga. They support the implementation of the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary and of course, a World Whale Sanctuary.

Our Policy on Commercial Whaling!
WhaleSwim Adventure does not support the IWC’s policy that allows some country’s to kill whales under the pretence of ‘scientific research’ or for any reason at all.