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WhatsApp/Direct +64 211 101 818
Email us: tours@whaleswim.com

About

 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 all our desitinations and 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.

Rae and her gorgeous Tongan daughter, Pou

How it all started…

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 adopted her Tongan daughter, Pou in 2012 in New Zealand. Pou had been swimming with whales since age 9, and her love for the ocean led her to studying Marine Sciences at Windermere Campus in Tauranga, (Waikato University) in New Zealand and will graduate as a Marine Biologist at the end of 2019.

Rae and her whale-passionate team, each work from their home office’s in different parts of the North Island of New Zealand and Michael in Queensland Australia and Sabri based in Paris, France.

Each August – October, Rae and her Tour Leaders, Annah Evington and Sabri Ben Hassine (and family) make their way to beautiful Moorea in French Polynesia to manage 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 South-East Africa, the exotic warm waters of the Indian ocean in Sri Lanka, the Orca and the beauty of Norway, and their passion for 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 20 years by any other operator in these destinations.

Love to chat to you about our tours –
Our Skype Name: whaleswim
WhatsApp/WeChat: +64 21 1101818
Freephone in Australia: 1800 629 3016
Freephone in USA:  877 216 5847
Freephone in UK: 0800 288 968
Calling from Other countries: +64 21 1101818
New Zealand: 021 1101 818

Meet our Passionate WhaleSwim Adventures Team

Rae Gill
Tour Director

Rae lives in beautiful New Zealand outside the whale seasons and co-ordinates WhaleSwim Adventures in Tahiti and/or Mozambique during the whale season (August – November) and Sri Lanks with Blue and Sperm whales in March!

“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 details at the foot of the page. Call me. . . I am always happy to chat with you!”

Annah Evington
Tour Leader in Tahiti & Mozambique (August-October), Norway (November) & Sri Lanka (March/April)

Annah lives in Russell, in the beautiful Bay of Islands she works in her home office in NZ with WhaleSwim Adventures through the year as our Customer Services Manager for all our tours.
THEN . . . every March she heads to Sri Lanka to swim with Blue whales (and sometimes, Sperm whales, and other species of whales and dolphins and whalesharks), August in Tahiti and September in Mozambique 2019 then travels onto Norway in November, with VERY warm clothes to lead or tour groups to swim with Orca in the fjords of Norway. This is an amazing tour! Not only do you swim with Orca (in 9mm dry-suits) but the odd humpback turns up too. . . and you get to witness the Northern lights in all its glory!
Join Annah for one of our fun, life-changing and gob-smacking experiences!

Sabri Ben Hassine
Tour Manager/Leader and videographer in Tahiti (August-October)

Sabri lives in Paris, France with his lovely partner, Emma, when he is not somewhere else in the world with his work as an Assistant Director for television productions in France and internationally and Tahiti (August- October).
In 2011 his work took him to Moorea, French Polynesia where he experienced his first in-the-water encounter with humpback whales and fell hopelessly in love.
Every year since then, he works a whale-guide on Cata Manu, with our Tahitian skipper/captain Marie Te’amuu, for his vacation during the whale season.  Sabri has guided several of our tour groups in the ocean for the past 3 whale seasons!

This larger-than-life, former rugby player (with excellent camera-skills) will be your video-grapher for our 2019 season onwards and will capture your unforgettable moments in the water with humpbacks for the season and he will take great care of you as Team Leader too.

15 March 2019: Sabri and Emma gave birth to their first baby, Pacifique – at 3 weeks old. . .

 

 

Michael Smith
Tour Leader/Proffessional Master AIPP Photographer
Moorea, Tahiti (September/October)

Michael runs Into The Wild Photography in Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. A multi-award winning nature photographer and AIPP Master of Photography, he has a passion for sharing experiences with other photographers and certainly has a precious gift of seeing more in each beautiful image he takes. His gallery in Hervey Bay is filled with his photographic art. www.intothewildphotography.com.au

Michael will guide you in all aspects of photographing the whales: preparation and planning, camera settings, image concepts and post-production techniques to make the most of your photographs.   He will also guide you on landscape photography sessions to round off the photographic experience available on Moorea!

Barbara Van Stek & Hans Van Braak
Cook/Foodie in Moorea Tahiti (August – October)

Barbara and Hans join our team in 2019! Barbara is a great cook and lover a fresh and delicious food!
They owned a successful restaurant in a village in France for some years and are now semi-retired in the lovely, historical town of Zutphen, in The Netherlands.
While Rae was with them in Holland in 2018, (and enjoying Barbara’s healthy and very delicious food), she suggested that they both like to come out of retirement for 2.5 months and join us in the paradise island of Moorea to cook for our tour guests during the 2019 seaon. They jumped at the chance to have a working holiday in paradise! Barbara will be weaving her magic in the kitchen and Hans serving her yummy food to the guests most evenings!

 

Our Responsible Eco-tours

Our Mission:
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

Economic Responsibility:

  • 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.

Environmental responsibility:

  • 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 fill personal water bottles with filtered rainwater each day as well as a large container filtered water on the boat for refilling. in Tahiti.
  • We supply re-usable plastic lunch boxes to our caterers for lunches each day in Tonga.
  • 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.

Social Responsibility:

  • 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.

How we Contribute in Vava'u Tonga


‘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 – 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.

The Humpback whale Nursery, plus Whale Sharks & Manta Ray Nursery in Mozambique

Barra Beach and Tofo past the point (left) Tofo beach (right) – both bays are alive with up to 300 humpback whales during their breeding season August – October each year!
This area is also the feeding grounds for whale-sharks and manta-rays!

This is a well-kept secret holiday destination in Southern Africa, mostly frequented by South Africans during holiday seasons. The small town of Tofo is alive and fun, with lots of cafes and restaurants, the local market and an art gallery. The locals are happy and give excellent customer service. If you are a diver, we recommend that you book a dive with Liquid Diving also.
There is also pelican on the estuary nearby and manatees too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.