Tonga Tours

vavau_islands-aerial800x200 paradise_gentle_2010_4600_libby_calfOur personally-escorted, small-group eco-tours are on and around these 50 beautiful islands of Vava’u during the humpback whales breeding season, July – October each year!

Please note that we do not do day trips. Our aim is to take you to the best whale-swimming experience possible.  We love the whales and are passionate about what we do. We know that the best encounters are respectful ones and we know that you will want more than a fleeting glimpse of these magnificent beings, therefore we offer a longer time in the water.
We know that once you have swum with them, once you have looked in the eye of a whale, you will want to do it again. . .
We have chosen top quality accommodation – all with ensuite bathrooms, 100% cotton/linen bedding, delicious food, excellent service and great hosts!
Your days out whale-swimming with humpback whales are aboard the best licensed boats – 36′ power-cat “Press Play” (for our 8 & 9 night eco-tours) and  30′ power-cat ‘Gladiator’ (for our 7-night, 1047 eco-tours) with our ‘whale-whisperer’ skippers & guides.
We provide gourmet lunches on our boats, education & guidance in the water, snorkelling on reefs and in caves, and boat & airport transfers in Vava’u are included.
We operate various eco-tours to suit all budgets, accommodation preferences and dates.
All of our Vava’u eco-tours are listed below with dates and prices and with a link to the itinerary for you to download and print.
A maximum of 8 guests only on each tour.
Prices are per person.

2017 Eco-Tours


mala_island_185x155#1017 ‘Island Bliss’ Tours

9 nights accommodation and 7 days on the water with the whales on 36′ power cat ‘Press Play’ with experience Tongan ‘whale-whisperer’ skipper, Noa Pulini and qualified whale-swim guide, Henry.

Your personal-escort/Tour Manager, Annah Evington will be onboard each day, guiding you in the water and making sure your time with us is fun and beyond any expectations!

mala_beach_fales_in_out185x155Annah has been working with Whaleswim Adventures in Vava’u for 9 seasons and is totally passionate about the humpbacks and the diverse marine environment around Vava’u.

Mala Island Resort is a perfect paradise island in the middle of the humpback whale ‘nursery’, with a snorkelling reef just off the beautiful white sandy beach, beach bonfire with Tongan music, fresh coconuts, kayaks, beach games and more. the best food in Vava’u!


(Click tour # for Itinerary)
#1017A   Tuesday 25 July – Thursday 3 August         (4 spaces available)
#1017B   Tuesday 15 – Thursday 24 August                (2 spaces available)
#1017C   Thursday 24 August – Sat 2 September       (FULLY BOOKED)
#1017D  Thursday 14 – Sat 23 September                    (6 spaces available)
#1017E    Tues 26 Sept – Thurs 5 Oct                  (tour pending)
#1017F   Thurs 5 –  Sat 14 October                    (tour pending)

mala_fale_twin_185Double Fale (Bungalow) with king-size bed: AUD$5,950
Twin Fale with 2 x Queen beds: AUD$5,950
Single Fale  with king-size bed:  AUD$6,650
Triple Share Fales: (2 adjoining fales with 4 x Queen beds & 2 ensuite bathrooms): AUD$5,780


Tours Include:
Welcome Lunch, 9 nights at the fabulous Mala Island Resort, exquisite meals prepared by manager/chef Teresa James (ex-owner/chef of Reef Resort)Polynesian-style fales with ensuite bathrooms overlooking the beautiful beach and turquoise lagoon, all meals – includes Tongan feast & dancenight, beach BBQ, kayaks & beach activities. Airport & boat transfers in Vava’u.

Click here to book this tour!

mala_aeriel1_185x155#1077 “Whales in Paradise’ Tour

8 nights accommodation, staying 4 nights in Vava’u Villa’s Luxury tents with timber floors and ensuite bathrooms. Your hosts Ian and Vanessa Jones are fun people and have created an amazing adjoining business with sustainability in mind with their coconut & vanilla production.
Vanessa is a foodie and her food is fresh and very tasty. You will enjoy the friendly bar too, where many of the locals hang-out. Plus 4 nights at the beautiful Mala Island Resort.


Enjoy lovely Polynesian-style fales (bungalows) with ensuite bathrooms and verandah, overlooking the fabulous beach and turquoise lagoon & delicious meals prepared by manager/chef Teresa James (ex-owner of Reef Resort) – includes Tongan feast, beach BBQ, kayaks & beach activities and more.

6 days on water with the whales with your personal-escort/Tour Manager, Annah Evington will be onboard each day, guiding you in the water and making sure your time with us is fun and beyond any expectations!
villa_cafe_deck_patrick tiggesAnnah has been working with WhaleSwim Adventures in Vava’u for 9 seasons and is totally passionate about the humpbacks and the diverse marineenvironment around Vava’u.

(Click tour # for Itinerary)
#1077A     Thursday 3 – Frid 11 August                  (5 spaces)
#1077B     Tuesday 5 –  Thursday 13 Sept              (7 spaces)

VVilla_Tent_186Dble/Twin: Luxury Tent & King bed at Mala: AUD$5,250
Twin: Luxury Tent & 2 x Queen beds at Mala AUD$5,250
Single: Luxury Tent at Vava’u Villa & King Bed Mala: AUD$5,900

Tours Include:
Welcome Dinner, 4 nights at Vava’u Villa staying in luxury tents with timber floors and full ensuite bathroom, (full breakfasts and 3 evening meals – allows 1 evening to dine at a restaurant in town or attend a Tongan feast) plus 4 nights at Mala Island Resort with ensuite bathrooms, all meals and
all jetty/boat/airport transfer in Vava’u.VavVilla_bar_deck_185
( Triple rooms are not available on this tour)

Click here to book this tour!



villa_aerial_cropped_patrick tigges

#1047  ‘Encounters with Gentle Giants’ Tours 

7 nights staying at the fabulous Vava’u Villa.  All rooms have comfortable beds with 100% linen bedding & ensuite bathrooms.
Your hosts Ian and Vanessa Jones are fun people and have created an amazing adjoining business with sustainability in mind with their coconut & vanilla production. Vanessa is a foodie and her food is fresh, (from her on-site organic vegetable garden!) delicious, international & local food. You will enjoy the friendly bar too, where many of the locals hang-out.


Your 5 days out on the water with the whales is on 28′ power cat ‘Gladiator’ with experienced Tongan crew and your personal-escort/Tour Leader, Claire Hodgson, will be onboard each day. She will be guiding you in the water with the whales and making sure your time with us is fun and amazing!
Claire will been working with us in Vava’u for her second season has an enormous passion for humpbacks and has a great sense of humour. You will love her!

(Click tour # for Itinerary)
VavVilla_veg_gardens_185x123#1047A           Tues 25 July – Tues 1 August         (3 spaces)
#1047B           Tues 1 – Tues 8 August                    (5 spaces)
#1047C           Thurs 10 – Tues 17 August              (6 spaces)
#1047D           Thurs 17 – Thurs 24 August           (3 spaces)   (1 x female solo traveller share room available – please enquire)
#1047E            Tues 29 Aug – Tues 5 Sept             (3 spaces)
#1047F            Thurs 7 – Tues 14 Sept                    (8 spaces)
VavVilla_bar_deck_185#1047G            Thurs 21 – Thurs 28 Sept               (tour pending) please enquire
#1047H            Thurs 3 – Tues 10 October             (6 spaces)

Double Room: King or Queen bed  AUD$4,175
Twin Room: 2 x large single beds  AUD$4,175
Single Room: King or Queen bed  AUD$4,730
Triple Room: Large room with 3 beds AUD$4,120


All Tours Include:

Welcome Dinner, 7 nights accommodation at the beautiful Vava’u Villa.  All rooms have ensuite bathrooms, comfortable beds & 100% pure linen bedding. Full breakfast each day, 5 delicious evening meals (2 free evenings to explore the town and its restaurants or attend a traditional Tongan Feast).

We spend 5 amazing days out with the whales with experienced crew/guide, scrumptious lunch, education & guidance in the water, daily snorkelling on reefs and in caves, VavVilla_bar_185beach-combing on uninhabited islands (if time permits), jetty & airport transfers in Vava’u.

Click here to book a 1047 tour!



What makes us different to other whaleswim experiences in Tonga?

  • Our Team is absolutely passionate about humpback whales and the beautiful islands of Tonga and its people. We do what we do every day from that passion! 
  • We are totally committed to having every one of guests experience the best in-the-water encounters with the humpback whales (and other marine life) during their time with us!
  • We are the longest running packaged eco-tour operator in Tonga, with 17 years of experience.
  • We offer the opportunity to our guests to get involved in our collection of fluke identification for ongoing research concerning the I.D. and ‘movement’ of humpback whales in the South Pacific.
  • Through many years of experience we know these amazing creatures & understand their behaviours. Our love and respect for the whales is demonstrated in the way we operate our tours and is reflected in our strong non-harrassment policy.
  • Our tours are fun and friendly. Many lasting friendships have been formed on our WhaleSwim Adventures over the years.
  • We have many returning guests – and not just once or twice.
  • We LOVE what we do!

paradise_islands_2012_aerialvavau_islands_185Tonga – perfect breeding ground for the South Pacific Humpback whales!

The magnificent South Pacific Humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of Tonga from late July to late October each year, to mate and give birth to their calves. The 8,500 km journey to and from their feeding grounds in the Antarctic takes approximately 6 or 7 weeks. Tonga is one of only 4 locations in the world where it is legal to swim with whales. Due to its location and geography, this amazing experience can be managed so it is safe for both humans and animals.


Your Days on the Water with the Whales

“It is truly an inconsistency in nature that one of the largest of mammals in our oceans are so graceful and gentle – totally trusting of the human beings floating on their crystal clear watery domain. The Humpback whales are aware of our presence, they glide effortlessly around us, with a gentleness of knowing we are fragile in comparison and we are there out of wonder and respect of their size, their graciousness and allowing their new born calves within a few metres of us, there is a ‘stillness’ as they approach you that goes way beyond words. . . . . Their song is ancient and resounds through all your senses leaving you with a peacefulness that is both inward and outward”.

VavVilla_skip_ness_185x155All of our eco-tours are personally-escorted, private charters, staying at land-based top quality accommodation – a beach-side resort on the beautiful tropical island situated 25min by boat from Neiafu, the main town on Vava’u and a small friendly hotel/villa with ensuite rooms and Luxury Tents with timber floors and ensuite bathrooms – just like a hotel!, The Villa has a great bar and restaurant. Both properties are operated by warm and welcoming hosts, the food is fresh and delicious and their hospitality is the best in Vava’u. After 17 years, we have found that our guests enjoy their holiday with us, even more than expected, due to the accommodation we provide


There are 50 different islands in the Vava’u group (photo at the top go the page) This is the humpback whale ‘nursery’!

Our days are spent in and around most of these islands – a safe haven for the calving females. July – October is the mating season for these humpback whales who have swum 8,500 km’s from the Antarctic, so there is plenty of action to be witnessed! 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!
whalesinparadise_2013_0388_spyhopYou 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 malechallenging 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.
paradise_islands_2013_TS_heatrun185[1]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.
2013_0242_swallowsOther 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 Coral Gardens, 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 3pm.




Snorkelling with the Humpback whales

On the first morning of your tour we anchor our boat in a calm area for the boat briefing and for you to get into the water and learn the ‘WhaleSwim Shuffle’. We also take this opportunity to check your snorkelling gear to make sure it is comfortable.

The ‘WhaleSwim Shuffle’ is way of snorkelling with fins BELOW the surface of the water, the leg action is similar to riding a bike. This reduces the possibility of disturbing the whales. The other way is to snorkel laying on your side – its fast and easy to keep your fins below the water. If fins are flapping on the surface of the water, the noise and activity can spook the whales and they swim off – defeating the object of the exercise! For the same reason we advise wearing full foot fins as neoprene booties/diving fins are difficult to keep below the surface as the booties float.
2013_fluke_185We also put you into groups of 4 and demonstrate ‘how to be’ around the whale, all ready for your in-the-water encounters for the remainder of your expedition. Our first priority at all times is your safety and safety of the whales.

Touching the whales is NOT permitted on our expeditions – see Term & Conditions.
We have the deepest respect for these magnificent animals, we believe poking and prodding them is invasive and abusive. Just like a stranger touching you in the street – its unacceptable behaviour.

1063A_2805_eyeOur special research program is to photograph and log ‘fluke’ prints (the under-side the the whales tail). Each fluke print is different – just like a human fingerprint. We welcome our guests participation, by giving us copies of their images of flukes so we can add yo our collection. At the end of each season we send them to the Pacific Whale Foundation in Hawaii to collate and from 2014 we will be sending to The New Tonga Fluke Collective – a new initiative by the many pro-photographers that come to Vava’u each year. They would appreciate all our guests fluke photos too! If research data is a special interest to you, then we are happy for you to assist with the collection of this data during your expedition.

Click here for Tonga Humpback Whale Information.

We look forward to sharing this unforgettable experience with you!!