Important Information

kidsClick Here for ‘Terms & Conditions’

Please download and read before you book your tour with us!

Tonga’s Lifestyle

Remember – Tongan lifestyle is in a slow “time-zone” If you are expecting fast service and everything to always be ‘on time’ – you may want to consider another holiday destination! This is an opportunity to relax and have a laid-back, cruise-y holiday with the humpback whales! You will experience many ‘time’ issues while you are in Tonga – from local flight schedules being changed several times before you even depart for Tonga and when you arrive – our taxis being late, boats not leaving on time and service in restaurants being very slow.

THIS IS TONGA!

It is a developing country and this is how they operate. There are no 6-star resorts here, so its not practical to expect air-conditioned rooms, swimming pools or up-market shopping.

Our tour accommodation and recommend accommodation is the best available in Tonga. All properties have been inspected by us and continually checked for cleanliness, quality furnishings/bedlinen etc and service.

We advise that when there is a hiccup along the way… just take a deep breath and relax!! Getting angry and upset will not help the situation (the Tongans cannot understand emotional outbursts) BUT most of all, it will spoil your special holiday with us in this beautiful island paradise.

Aquatic & Physical Abilities
– our tours are classed as ‘medium to high’ physical and fitness challenge.

Our expeditions are NOT suitable for:
  • Anyone who is NOT fit.
  • Anyone who does not have good balance, strong knees and arms or are not strong enough to climb the ladder unassisted onto the boat.
  • Anyone who requires assistance in the water.
  • Anyone who has a mobility disability.
Minimum requirement:
  • Ability to swim 50 metres quickly and easily and to confidently snorkel 100m unassisted in sometimes very choppy water.
  • You must be able to climb up a boat ladder unassisted. We are sometimes in 1.5m – 2.5m swells.
  • A buoyant wetsuit or snorkelling vest AND mask, fins & snorkel MUST BE WORN in the water at all times.

To assure a safe and memorable expedition, we recommend that you prepare physically for your amazing adventure with the humpback whales. We suggest swimming and strength training to ensure your agility and fitness.

Some days on the water can be strenuous and physically challenging. They demand an above-average level of fitness and agility. You may be required to snorkel distances of 50 – 100 metres and climb in and out of the boat after removing your fins in deep water – sometimes in choppy seas and strong currents – unassisted.

For those who have never snorkelled or are slow in the water, we advise that you enrol in a snorkelling course at your nearest dive centre and train to prepare for your tour with us.

So that we can be sure of your level of water skills and and your ability to manage yourself on the boat , we require you to complete and sign an ‘Aquatic Abilities/Health /Fitness’ questionnaire in our online booking system. Please be entirely honest with us in this questionaire as it is important that you are physically able to be on the boat and in the water safely and able to fully enjoy your whaleswim adventure.

If the WhaleSwim Tour Leader and/or the boat skipper or licensed whale-watching guide is not satisfied with your fitness, agility and snorkelling ability, then they have the right to refuse you entry to the water with the whales as your lack of ability may endanger your life or the life of others. Therefore, we would recommend that you ensure that you have a suitable level of skills and level of fitness before embarking on your tour.

jesse_vest1

WhaleSwim Adventures Neoprene Snorkelling vest for Hire or Purchase only in Tonga

Neoprene Snorkelling Vests: We have had these great vests designed especially for snorkelling with the whales! They are 3mm neoprene, lightweight (but warm!) and easy to get on and off. Excellent if you go on lots of snorkelling holidays. They are available to rent or to buy.
Hiring AUD$30 for a tour: Your Hire Vests will be available to you at the Welcome Lunch or Dinner in Vava’u.
Purchase AUD$70.00: If you prefer to purchase  a vest, just tick/check the box in your online tour booking.
This season, we will have plenty of stock in Tonga, so we can ‘fit’ you with your vest at the Welcome lunch or dinner! They are a great souvenir and perfect for other snorkel holidays.

Sizes are as follows: XS (6-8), S (8-10), M (10-12), L (12-14), XL (14-16) XXL (16-18), XXXL (28-20). These are UK/Australia/NZ sizing. For USA – go down a size. i.e. XS (4-8).
To be ordered during your booking process and paid with your tour payment.

hero3plusGet your GoPro Camera to capture your Unforgettable Encounters with the Humpback Whales in Tonga!

We highly recommend that you purchase the amazing GoPro camera for your trip with us and the humpback whales, as we believe is ideal for filming underwater.
If you have questions, just email for advice! Our wonderful enthusiastic staff will be onboard with you each day during your tour, to assist you in becoming an expert!  You get complimentary How-To with our Tour Managers – (all practised GoPro users!) during your tour!!

Use of drones while on our boats.
We do not allow the use of drones on our standard tours for a number of reasons:

  • They can present privacy issues for other guests.
  • They can present safety concerns. There is not a huge amount of deck space
  • onboard to work with and launching and landing the equipment out on the ocean could be dangerous for others.
  • Keeping the drone equipment safe from damage could also be challenging in the confined area.
  • They can effect the quality of our whale experiences.  We need to be very mobile for some of our encounters. If the whales are moving we also need to move quickly and it can be awkward and distracting for our crew and our other guests if we have to make the time for safely launching and landing a drone.

You would be able to get great aerial footage of your island adventure from land though if you wish to bring your equipment and, if really wanting to take ocean and whale footage you might want to look into chartering a boat for your own use for an extra day.

Liability Waiver & Indemnifying Agreement

When you book your tour, you will be asked to sign an AFFIRMATION & LIABILITY WAIVER & INDEMNIFYING AGREEMENT. Signing of this agreement is compulsory if you want to join the expedition or any other activity in Tonga – it is the law. This is not because its dangerous to swim with whales, but the other accidents you may have in Vava’u!!
Our WhaleSwim Team take every precaution to keep our guests safe.

Visas

Your passport must be valid for 6 months or more on the day of entry.

A visitor’s visa will be issued, free of charge, for the period of one month from the date of arrival at the airport provided the visitor holds a valid return ticket out of the Kingdom to a country which he/she shall be able to enter and the Immigration Officer is satisfied that the visitor has sufficient funds to financially maintain himself while in the Kingdom.
This visa is for many passports – Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Canada,  Cook Islands, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia (New Caledonia, Tahiti, Wallis & Futuna), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niue, Norway, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Samoa, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lusia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Sweden, Switzerland, The Bahamas,  Tokelau, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom & Northern Ireland, United States of America, Vanuatu.

Please note, visitors from all other countries need visas prior to arrival. If you do require a visa it is always best to make those enquiries from your travel agent or contact the Tongan Immigration Department at visatonga@gmail.com or phone +676 26 696 or +676 26 970.

As everything in Tongan happens on ‘Tonga Time” so please make sure you apply 2+ months PRIOR to arrival in Tonga.

Click Here to download a Visa application form.
Scan/email or fax to Immigration Division
Email: tongapermit@gmail.com
or contact Ms. Lepolo at almfi_ini@hotmail.com for further directions.

PLEASE NOTE: IF you hold any Asian or African passport and are traveling/transiting through New Zealand to/from Tonga – you will require a transit visa. Applications can be obtained from your nearest New Zealand Consulate or High Commission office

Travel & Accident Insurance

Our safety measures are stringent and we take every precaution in making sure that your experience with the whales is stress-free.

We will however, require you to have comprehensive Travel/Accident insurance cover before you begin your WhaleSwim Adventures expedition. Your insurance must cover you for travel problems, flight cancellations due to weather and delays, luggage loss, illness, and injury. PLEASE CHECK THIS BEFORE PURCHASING.

Tonga is an isolated and under-resource country and you will need full unlimited medical insurance to cover evacuation etc in the case of a serious eventuality.
We educate our guests regarding harmful fish and treat any grazes you may get from the reef  however accidents do happen and we just want to make sure you have a great stress-free holiday with us! We had a guest who fell of a hired bike, severely cracked her femur – she had to be airlifted to Nuku’alofa, the hospital didn’t have the expertise to reset, so she was airlifted to Auckland for urgent surgery. Her recovery took 6 months. She had full travel/accident insurance that covered the cost of everything.
Also consider that the local airlines are reliable however like all airlines, there can be an occasional delay and connections can be missed. If your international flight is delayed or you miss your international flight due to the domestic airline being late, you will have to buy another one way ticket home.

The local airlines WILL NOT pay for your new ticket. We advise you not to risk the possibility of it happening to you.

Travel insurance on our Tonga expeditions is very highly recommended. If you choose not to have Travel Insurance, you will be required to sign an Insurance Waiver Form (click here)
Policies are available through your airline or travel agent.

Our Children Policy

Unfortunately due in several negative experiences with children, teens/families behaviour affecting our other guests on our tours, we have been forced to restrict our children’s policy. To book on our tours, all guests have to be 18 years and over.
I am sure you understand that many of our guests, have spent several years saving for a tour with us and pay a lot of money to get to Tonga and it has been very disappointing for them to have their dream holiday spoiled by just a few of the kids we have had join us over the years.  Its a big disappointment to us also.
We recommend that you book with a day-trip operation in Vava’u and book the days that suit you and also accommodation that caters for children. Contact Caryl Jones at Ashlee G (up to 8 guests) whalesongtonga@hotmail.com or Pat at Kiwi Magic – up to 4 guests kiwimagic77@gmail.com

Best_vavau_tomatoes_marketDietary Requirements

The foods available in Tonga are very fresh and simple with lots of carbohydrate. Most specialist foods are not available here.

If you are wheat or lactose intolerant, a vegan or strict vegetarian, then you will need to bring most of your dietary requirements with you. Only wheat-based bread, mostly white is served everywhere, (a rye/wheat bread is available – but it’s usually stale by lunchtime!) and most meals served in restaurants and at the resorts contain dairy products, meat or fish.

All dairy products and red meats are imported, however fresh locally-caught fish or chicken is plentiful and delicious. There is a limited range of seasonal fruit and vegetables available.

From August to October there is an abundance of fresh bananas, pineapples, papaya and watermelon. Locally-grown beans, tomatoes, cabbage, onions, potatoes, cucumber, capsicum and some lettuce, are generally the only vegetables available. Carrots do come into season in September & October.

Tongan traditional vegetables such as taro, cassava, yams, sweet potato and tapioca are always in plentiful supply. White rice and pasta dishes are also often served for evening meals.

IF YOU HAVE SPECIAL DIETARY NEEDS – THEN WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU BRING WHAT YOU REQUIRE.

Please complete the booking form with your dietary requirements – this is important as we need to inform our caterers, the resorts and restaurants.

Inappropriate Behaviour and during the Tour

These are ecological holidays, Whaleswim Adventures reserves the right to ask any participants to leave the group tour should he/she behave in a way that is insensitive to the whales, the environment, local people, our staff, crew or other group members of the group or persist in not following the WhaleSwim Guides directions in the water with the whales. WhaleSwim Adventures staff and management also reserve the right to move those guests to other accommodation at the guests expense. No refund will be given.