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Frequently Asked Questions

We understand, a big trip needs preparation! Here are the common questions we get asked regarding the tour in Moorea

When is the best time to swim with whales in Tahiti?

We get asked this question frequently. It’s a difficult answer, as the humpbacks (and other species of whales & dolphins) are in Moorea for the 3.5 months of the breeding season – early August to end of October – in numbers. (The official humpback whale season in French Polynesian is 1st August - 11 November every year). We see and swim with humpbacks every day through the season – except when the weather is very rainy and windy and that happens only 3 or 4 days over the 3 month season. We just go out for a full day with the whales on another day, if this happens.
We only operate on dates that we absolutely know, through experience, the whales are around Moorea!

Why are you not operating day trips?

Our aim is to take you on the fullest and best whale-swimming experience possible – not fleeting glimpses. For this, you need to maximize your time on the water. We are not here to force any interaction but instead find you the right whales to have the best interaction with! Our years of experience allow us to know that immersing yourself in many different whale encounters over a week time is the best way to experience this very intimate & profound privilege. It can be absolutely life-changing for many.

AND  . .  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 and again.

A good whale-watching skipper knows that the best way to get great encounters is to take the time to let the whales get used to the boat and for the swimmers to be an un-intrusive as possible. Our Tahitian ‘whale-whisperer’, skipper and guide, Maire Tem’auu, has been taking people in the water with whales for 22 years, he has a very deep respect. He is the best guide  we have worked with for 20+ years!

It is harder for the day trip boats because they usually speed up to the whales, drop 15 – 25 people all in the water at the same time, all scrabbling over each other to be in the front, which can very easily spook the whales. Therefore, they have limited time and are under pressure to deliver the swims so the swims can be fleeting.

How to arrive & get to Moorea?

FLY TO TAHITI To join your WhaleSwim Adventure, you need to fly Internationally to Papeete, the capital on the main island of Tahiti in French Polynesia (Fa’a’ā International Airport – code PPT) 

Faa’a Airport is both an international and domestic airport.

We recommend you get enough local currency for your time with us on Moorea on arrival. There is a money changer and several ATM’s in the airpoirt and in the main town of Moorea.

Mobile SIM cards are available at the aiport (business hours only)

Transfers to Ferry terminal or your hotel in Papeete
Here are the contact details: Herenui Tetauru at Tahiti Transport Ptives   Tel: + (689) 87 71 84 08   They will be waiting with your name on a sign as your exit Customs. Its 15 mins to the ferry unless its rush-hour. There is a cafe on the first floor from the ticket office – right by the entrance to boarding the ferry. 

DOMESTIC FLIGHT OR FERRY TO MOOREA There are 2 ways to get to Moorea from the main island of Tahiti. Both are easy, as Moorea is just 17km away for the main island of Tahiti.

By fast Ferry – a 25 min journey from the ferry building on the waterfront in
down-town Papeete. – here are the links to the websites : or There is free 1-hour wifi and a cafe aboard with snacks and light meals as well as coffee and drinks. If you are lucky, you may see a few humpback whales on the way!

By Air – Air Tahiti operates several flights daily to Moorea and other island of French Polynesia. Its a 11 minute flight from Papeete airport to Moorea – short and sweet! You have beautiful views of both islands on your quick flight!

Visa Information
We include visa information in our Trip Preparation Bulletin that we send you prior to your departure to Moorea.

Can anybody join the tour or do I need a minimum of fitness level?

  • You need above-average fitness and agility in the water.

  • Good snorkeling skills

  • To be comfortable and confident snorkeling in very deep water in the open ocean, for 50 – 200 metres (sometimes in big swells).

  • You need to be able to get your fins/mask & snorkel on quickly when requested by the crew.

  • You must be able to get yourself off and on the boat unassisted.

Although humpback whales are 12 -15 metres long and weigh about 40 ton, they are gentle animals and are very aware of us in the water. They will even drop their 5m long pectoral fin or turn their tail fluke to avoid us as they swim by. The calves are sometimes very curious and they often seem to love to be around us.  The thought of being so close to them may be frightening ­but after your first encounter you will understand why they are known as the gentle giants of the sea.

If you feel that your swimming and snorkelling skills is not up to the level we require, or that you are a little unfit, we suggest that you enrol in snorkelling lessons and improve your swimming skills and fitness levels prior to joining your tour to insure the best encounters possible.

Your level of skill and confidence will determine whether our Skipper/Guide will allow you in the water with the whales. 

It is TOP PRIORITY to have good snorkeling gear. 

Please note: Your tour leader is not there to assist you in the water, he is there to keep all the group safe.

What equipment do I need to bring?

A good snorkelling gear that fits you personally!​

We will be out in the water every day so it's essential to have your own comfy snorkelling gear. You will not be able to rent good quality snorkelling gear in Moorea.

PLEASE NOTE: FOR YOUR SAFETY we ask you to wear a buoyant wetsuit or vest PLUS your mask, fins and snorkel at all times when snorkeling with the whales on any WhaleSwim Adventure tour

You will need:

  • comfortable mask & snorkel – semi-dry top and self-purging is preferable so you are not constantly blowing water out of your snorkel. (but not with totally dry’ style with the ball in the top – the ball can jam shut, making breathing difficult! ) Please have your mask ‘fitted’ correctly at the store – all masks are different and all face shapes are different. Remember, this gear is the very reason you are booking our tour! Please choose a black or dark blue, red or dark grey masks – NOT clear masks as they tend to create reflection off the surface of the water.

  • comfortable pair of full foot long fins, do not buy them too tight or you will get blisters. Make sure you have a bit of movement in them. (NOT dive fins that you need to wear neoprene booties with) You have to keep your fins below the surface of the water when snorkeling (prevents noise and water disturbance that spooks the whales) and this is difficult if you are wearing booties that float. If you want to protect your feet/heels from blistering in your full-foot fins, then the nylon/spandex skin socks (
    For large feet (up to size 16) – we recommend

  • buoyancy – its safer and easier to be still in the water around the whales wearing a buoyant garment – like a neoprene vest or t-shirt or a wetsuit (short or long – depending on whether you feel the cold). It will keep you afloat on the surface without any effort and allows free movement in the water.

  • Water temperature is 24/26 degrees but we DO recommend, if you easily get cold, to bring a 3mm wetsuit (even in Tahiti!)

  • a Lycra top (Rashie) or suit or a Sharkskin top will keep you warm if you tend to feel the cold easily and for protection from the sun while you are on the boat. (optional)

  • If you are bringing a Go-Pro – short handle pole is the best!  – a headstrap doesnt work and a long-pole is not permitted! 
    Latest iPhone or Samsung with the latest under-water housing, a compact camera with excellent lenses and uw housing  are other excellent options. 

Type of equipment we recommend :


For Safety reasons, we DO NOT recommend this type of equipment :


(This mask is designed for using on a reef in shallow still water - they fog up

and often leak in choppy waters)


(The booties will make your feet float therefore

splash the water & scare the whales)


(Those fins are too short and

not enough powerful to swim with - please do not listen to the store sales
person if the have not swim with whales in the open ocean!)


(The all dry snorkel with ball on top,

the ball can jam shut making breathing difficult!)


(Long selfie stick forbidden on our tours, 

they get in the photos & on the face of other guests)

How many people in the group?

Our tours are small and cater for a maximum of 10 guests only.
French Polynesian Whale-watching Regulations allow more than 15 people including crew on the boat and we have 10 people plus guide in the water with the whales at any one time, but through our 21 years of experience around humpback whales, it doesn’t matter if there are 4 or 15 people in the water at one time, it’s about the way we behave around the whales. This means that you are in the water with the whales every time and you will have the opportunity for many in-the-water encounters during our 4 – 4.5 hours on the water with the whales, over the 6 or 8 days. You will have time to enjoy the incredible up-close surface action too. Minimum age is
18 years old unless you are booking all spaces on the boat.

Where to stay prior or after the tour?

Planning to stay a little longer?

Here are our recommendation of hotels in PAPEETE, TAHITI:

- Hotel Kontiki Tahiti located in front of the quay ferries for Moorea

- Hotel Tahiti Nui in the center of Papeete with open sky swimming pool | 8mns walk from ferry

-Tahiti Airport Motel if you want to be closer to the airport, note you will still need to have someone transferring you there, we recommend South Pacific Transfer.

Here are our recommendation of hotels in MOOREA:

- Moorea Sunset Beach 

This is the fabulous accommodation you are staying at for your tour in Moorea!
If you are arriving early for your tour or staying longer, you can book extra nights in your booking process.

The Moorea Sunset Beach is just 10-15 mins walk to the village of Hauru and 2 cafes for lunch and the 3 of the best restaurants in the area. Most restaurants on Moorea provide a free pick/drop-off service every evening.

You can book with reception for a Beach Buggy to tour around the island and have lunch at Snack Mahana (best lunch cafe on Moorea), and all other activities on Moorea and they will pick you up from the Sunset.

If you want to book other accommodation in the area – make sure you add Faa’a Airport in Papeeete or Hauru in Moorea.

Taoahere Guest House (make sure to book in advance for availabilities!) 

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