Swimming with whales. . . . .
Swimming with all species of whales is a great privilege, not a right.
From that respectful perspective, you will have the best encounters possible with the whales in whatever location you chose to join us and our local crew.
Our passionate team have the experience and knowledge of these magnificent animals. Being able to read how comfortable they are and giving them space when they need it, helps to ensure long, safe and fun encounters for our guests and the whales.
Our Tour Leaders as well as our local guides are Certified Whale Guides in Tonga and our experienced skippers in Vava’u and Moorea are locals and are great ocean-lovers, with years with being on and in the water experience around their local islands and highly respected in their local community.
There are special ways to snorkel with whales and we will show you ‘ how’ on Day 1 of your tour. The key to a good encounter is to stay close to each other and your Guide in the water. That’s always the best viewing spot and the whales are not spooked by swimmers all around them! Our goal is always, not cause them stress, but be still, to be respectful and follow your guides instructions.
These encounters are very initmate and when we work as a group and we stay close to one another in the water, long and safe encouters can be experienced. Every encounter is different, and some whales will be much more interactive than others.
The idea of WhaleSwim Adventures began in 1997 for it’s owner Rae Gill, when a friend from Scandinavia told her about her experience of swimming with humpback whales in the Caribbean. Rae felt overwhelmed by emotion. 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. . . . 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 to Vava’u, Tonga to check it out and the rest is history!
Rae and her whale-passionate team, each work from their home office’s in different parts of the North Island of New Zealand.
Each July – October, Annah Evington, her Tour Manager and her whale conservationists team, head to Vava’u in Tonga and Rae and her Tour Leader/videographer extraordinaire, Magenta Hyde (and family) make their way to beautiful Moorea in French Polynesia to chaperone their very special ‘packaged’ 7 to 9 day expeditions snorkeling with the humpback whales and other amazing marine life that comes their way!
Their passion for the humpbacks and the love of the Pacific and the environment as well as their 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 over the past 17 years by any other operator in these destinations.
Love to chat to you about our tours –
Our Skype Name: whaleswim
Freephone in Australia: 1800 629 3016
Freephone in USA: 877 216 5847
Freephone in UK: 0800 288 968
Calling from Other countries: +64 6 278 7328
New Zealand (06) 278 7328 or 021 1101 818
Rae lives in beautiful New Zealand outside the whale seasons and co-ordinates WhaleSwim Adventures in Tahiti during the whale season (August – November).
“I love whales, the ocean and all that live in it!
I can be contacted by Skype: whaleswim via our Freephones and my number in NZ – see dtails at the foot of the page. Call me. . . I am always happy to chat with you!”
Customer Service Manager (October – July) & Tour Manager in Tonga (July – October)
Annah lives in the beautiful town of Russell, in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand most of the year and in Vava’u Tonga, during the whale season July – October.
Lynda lives on the beautiful island of Waiheke, in the Hauraki Gulf of Auckland, New Zealand.
Lynda has worked with us since 2004 and her role is to manage the bookings made on our tours.
You will get to email with her prior to yout departure for Tonga!
Tour Leader & Video-grapher in Tahiti
Magenta lives in Auckland New Zealand with her partner, Rossco and their young twins, Naia & Indy during the year and Moorea, Tahiti during the season.
Magenta will be on the boat with you each day and in the water filming whenever possible. She will offer you the opportunity of making a short under-water video of you and the whales during your time with us. The cost is AUD$ 60 per person onto a Flash Drive.
Tour Leader, Tonga
Claire lives in Adelaide, South Australia most of the year and in Vava’u with her husband, Pouli, during the whale season in Tonga.
Claire is your Tour Leader for our ‘Encounters with Gentle Giants’ 7 night tours.
We all look forward to sharing the beauty of Tahiti and Tonga and the humpback whale experinces with you!
To increase awareness of the importance of conservation of our marine mammals through groups of people directly experiencing the underwater world of the whales and dolphins for themselves and by supporting research projects around the world.
Our eco-tours take place only in certain areas of our oceans (away from commercial tourism), where these encounters are guided by trained and experienced naturalists insuring that we have the least impact these intelligent mammals as possible and that the whales are honoured and respected at all times and not harassed or invaded in any way.
To extend an invitation to others who are touched by whales and dolphins to join us on our guided encounters, and have the opportunity to personally experience these extraordinary mammals in the wild and realise the vital importance of their survival and the tragic effect their extinction would have on our planet.
To contribute to our oceans becoming a safe place for all marine mammals to continue to live and breed.
To honour and contribute to supporting the local communities socially, economically, environmentally.
Code Of Conduct
- We have a strict policy of working with a variety of accommodation facilities, charter companies, restaurants, taxis, local tour operators, growers etc thus insuring that the local businesses and communities benefit from our personally escorted eco-tours.
- Our tour packages don’t always include a Traditonal Feast and Dance night and craft fair organised by a local village but we highly recommend it to those who have a free evening during their tour. We suggest our guests purchase their arts, crafts and souvenirs at this fair or at the local markets which promotes & encourages the local trade and economy.
- Insure that our suppliers (charter boats owners, resorts & hotels) employ local skippers & guides and other staff whenever possible.
- Our clients are informed on the need to adhere strictly to our waste disposal policies during their time with us. This is to insure that they do nothing to disturb or change the balance in the marine eco-system.
- We have our own environmentally friendly water bottles with we refill each day with UV sterilised rainwater for drinking each day for our guests .
- We supply re-usable plastic lunch boxes to our caterers for lunches each day.
- Local communities and schools are constantly reminded and educated on the need to protect and preserve their culture and the environment as to continually attract tourism.
- We collect humpback whale I.D. photos for the Tongan Fluke Collective in Tonga, the Tahiti Marine-life Research Collective, on eco-tours in each location to support the ongoing research and conservation of the South Pacific Humpback whales and the Orca Whales in the pristine environment in Norway .
- We do not print information brochures, all our information is on our website where information can be downloaded if and when required. All paper in our offices is recycled and we refrain from accepting plastic bags or wrapping whenever possible.
Polynesia has been declared a Marine Mammal Sanctuary and there has been a moratorium on whale-hunting since 1986. Whale-watching is regulated and a permit has been required since 2002.
In order to ensure the Polynesia continues to be a special place for watching whales and dolphins, a number rules must be observed.
– Maintain a cautious distance (50 metres from a single individual and 100 metres from a mother with calf.
– Let the creatures come to you and do not approach them from behind.
– Maintain a constant speed and gradually change course.
– Do not trap or block the whales against the reef.
- As a strict policy, we believe in training and retraining of staff and volunteers alike to ensure that they are acquainted with contemporary issues involved in providing safe, informative, educative, life changing and sustainable tourism.
- We only work with local suppliers who strictly adhere to the Whale-watching Guidelines in each of our tour locations – that cause little or no negative impact on the various species of whales in the area.
- We encourage our guests to interact with our boat crew, the local families during the feast and dance night, staff at resorts and on any village visits or events where this is possible.
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.
The Vava’u Public Library Scholarship Fund – donations are for school fees and the books and stationery donated by our guests are for gifted children in cash-poor families.
The Vava’u Library hold a Fund-Raising Dinner each year with a Silent Auction. Goods and services are gifted by local businesses and the money raised is funds for this very worthwhile project. The students who have received this funding, give a speech at the end of the evening. There are very few dry-eyes in the room during these speeches. Thanks to Sandra and her Team!
The Diagnostic Laboratory Project – Prince Wellington Ngu Hospital in Vava’u
It was bought to my attention, when a friend of mine, Vika (one of the waitresses who had served our guests at the Mango Café in Vava’u for their Welcome Lunch) was diagnosed with cancer (and sadly, passed away on Sunday 16 October 2011, aged 40,) that all of the services offered at the local Prince Wellington Ngu Hospital in Vava’u, were totally inadequate for even basic health care for the people of Vava’u.
I have (on occasion over 13 years) required the services of the (antique) X-ray machine at the hospital but the week before I left Vava’u, I took the time to visit the Diagnostic Laboratory and was appalled at what I saw!
The biggest challenge is the lack of funds updating and maintaining the equipment and most importantly, the medical supplies, in particular, the reagents, required for diagnostic testing of blood, urine etc for diabeties, cancer, kidney & liver function and other life threatening diseases. The lab technicians, Epi Vaka & Iona Kauvaka (photo left) are both qualified technicians and do the best they can with their outdated technical equipment. They are very dedicated and it was a pleasure to experience their commitment & the passion for the work they do.
The total annual cost for this laboratory to operate is AUD$18,631.00 EXCLUDING freight from Australia, duty and govt taxes.
The Ministry of Health of the Government of Tonga are unable to meet these costs at this time. Funding for continued operation must be obtained elsewhere. At present the laboratory is receiving funds from visiting tourists and from Friends of the Prince Wellington Ngu Hospital Fundraising Committee.
From Rae & the Team. . . .
“Our Heart-felt Thanks to all our generous and caring guests who carried many heavy books, crayons, pens, pencils, stationary and Panadol to Vava’u AND to the teenagers, parents and grandparents who gave their own special jigsaws, books and precious treasures that had bought joy and happiness to them as children. To the many generous Guests who have donated to the Diagnostic Lab Project
‘Getaway’ TV Travel Show
Australia’s top TV travel program ‘Getaway’ joined us in Tonga! We were voted the as one of their “Top 10” adventure experiences in 24 years of Getaway!
The Humpback Whale Nursery – Vava’u Islands, Tonga
The Vava’u Islands lay north of the main island of Tonga – a 55 minute flight away.
Neiafu is the capital of the Vava’u Island group and is nestled next to the the natural deep water harbour – the Port of Refuge. There are banks with ATM’s, a post office, internet cafes, handicrafts stores, cafes, restaurants and bars, a Tongan Visitors Bureau and the local market in Neiafu that sells fruit and vegetables as well as a variety of traditional handicraft.
Vava’u consists of 50 islands, all surrounded by very deep water. In some areas, over 100m deep. As you can see in the photo on the left, its is a large area and absolutely perfect for a humpback nursery. Sheltered areas in between and sheer drop-offs surround these ancient limestone islands and the visibility is sometimes up to 40m. You will be touched by the beauty of the islands and its people and will leave with memories of floating in warm azure sea with magnificent the gentle giants, brilliant sunsets reflected in calm lagoons, the sound of beautiful singing in village churches drifting across the water each morning as the sun pops over the horizon.
The Humpback Whale Nursery – Moorea, Tahiti French Polynesia
A few minutes from the island of Tahiti by plane, and only thirty minutes by high-speed catamaran, Moorea soars magically out of the ocean in an explosion of green velvet – what you would imagine a South Seas island to be.
A wide, shallow lagoon surrounds the island’s vertical mountains where poetic threads of waterfalls tumble down fern-softened cliffs. Peaceful meadows flanked by pinnacles of green will fill your senses and renew your belief in the majesty of nature. Pastel-painted houses surrounded by gardens of hibiscus and birds of paradise, circle the island in a fantasy of happy, yet simple villages.