top of page

Frequently Asked Questions

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

What experience do I need to join the tour?

This is an ocean adventure holiday and you will need to be reasonably fit, confident in the water and be able to snorkel well. We are often getting in and out of the boat into the ocean, sometimes snorkelling quickly for up to 50-80m and we may occasionally be in choppy seas.

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.

It is very important for you to know that some of the in-the-water encounters with the whales may be in very deep water and well away from land. Your level of skill and confidence will determine whether our Guide will allow you in the water with the whales. If you feel that your swimming and snorkelling skills could be improved, 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.

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.

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.

We also make sure that we only use the best boats and have the best skippers. 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.

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 Vava'u?


We swim with the whales in The Vava’u Islands, the northern island group in The Kingdom of Tonga.

To join your WhaleSwim Adventure, you need to fly Internationally to Nadi, Fiji (airport code NAN) and then fly via Nadi Fiji directly to Vava’u (flights three times a week).

International airlines flying into Nadi, Fiji, include Fiji Airways, Virgin Australia, Qantas, Air New Zealand, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific.

You can book flights with Fiji Airways, directly from Nadi, Fiji to  the international airport in Vava’u, where we swim with the whales. See flight details further below.

When booking airfares please note: There are no international or domestic flights in Tonga on  Sundays.


You will need to be in Vava’u by the afternoon of the starting date of your tour. We will gather in the dining room of the resort at 6pm that evening for our Welcome Dinner and tour briefing. Your tour finishes after breakfast and checkout of the last date of your tour.

We will arrange your Vava’u airport transfers to and from the tour resort – you just need to enter your flight arrival and departure information into your WhaleSwim account so that we can schedule this.


We are currently recommending that guests get to Vava’u by flying to Nadi, Fiji and then getting a flight directly from Nadi (NAN) to Vava’u (VAV) with Fiji Airways:

If you are planning to fly with Fiji Airways from your country to Nadi, we suggest that you book the Nadi (NAN) – Vava’u (VAV) flight first and separately. If you are trying to book a multi-stop fare with Fiji Airways to VAV their booking system sometimes shows no flights available to VAV, but if booking only the flights from Nadi to Vava’u you will find flights available. 

The flights from Nadi to Vava’u generally leave at 8am in the morning, so you may have to stay overnight in Nadi. We suggest, if in transit, that you stay at the Fiji Gateway Hotel: or contact us for further suggestions

What equipment do I need to bring?

We will provide you with a comprehensive Trip Preparation guide prior to your tour. This will give you all the packing and supplies information you will need (with good advice re your snorkelling gear) but as a general rule, remember that Tonga is a laid back, tropical place and light, casual clothing is the most suitable.

The most important items on your packing list will be your snorkelling equipment – your snorkel, mask and fins. We do not provide snorkelling gear. Hire gear is never going to fit you as well as your own equipment and, having come all this way to swim with the whales, we want you to have the best experience that you can. You are going to be snorkelling every day for 5 – 7 days and good quality, well fitting gear is going to make your WhaleSwim Adventure so much better.

Please note that, for safety sake, wearing of neoprene wetsuits or vests is compulsory when we are swimming with whales.

You may want to bring a light wetsuit for warmth and buoyancy while swimming with whales. Water temperatures are between 23 degrees C (in the earlier part of the season) and 26 degrees C, so for most people a 3mm shortie wetsuit is fine but if you really feel the cold you may want to bring a full 3mm wetsuit. If travelling light you can purchase or hire one of our excellent WhaleSwim neoprene snorkelling vests. These can be ordered when booking your tour.

Towels will be supplied by your resorts.

How many people in the group?

Our tours cater for a maximum of 8 guests only.

Tongan Whale-watching Regulations allow no more than 4 people plus a guide in the water with the whales at any one time. With only 8 guests onboard our whaleswim boat this means that you are in the water with the whales every 2nd time. You will have the opportunity for many in-the-water encounters during our 5-7 days of whale-watching, plus you will have time to enjoy the incredible up-close surface action.

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!) 

bottom of page