Swimming with Whales (Humpback whales) in Tonga

Tonga snorkeling vacation: On this snorkeling vacation you will swim with whales in Tonga! This is a unique opportunity to be very close to these amazing animals.
Travel period
July, August, September, October
Starting at
11 days from €6875,- p.p

Snorkeling with whales in the Pacific Ocean

Have you always wanted to swim & snorkel with whales? Then this is your chance. Between July and October take a visit to Tonga, a beautiful Pacific island, where friendly humpback whales visit every year. Tonga is known as the ultimate place to swim with whales, and this beautiful package tour is perfect for the best encounters with these gentle giants.

Swimming with whales

As humpback whales arrive in large numbers to breed and give birth in Tonga, you will witness one of nature’s greatest events. The crystal clear waters of Vava’u are the perfect place for mothers to teach their calves how to be whales. The curious calves explore their surroundings and seek interaction with the new world they have entered.

This snorkeling vacation offers you the best chance to interact with lively calves and caring mothers who spend their days in the clear waters around the islands. You will encounter playful males, caring females and energetic calves, and may even be lucky enough to participate in large groups of males hunting, or experience the haunting beauty of a singing male.

Describing what it feels like to swim with humpback whales is almost impossible. Words are too short and we must be careful not to use the word “enchanting or magical” repeatedly. But, in a nutshell, this does describe exactly how it is.

Small groups & shared accommodations

Each trip is conducted in a group setting, with an expert trip leader and up to 6 snorkelers, including yourself. You will stay together in comfortable accommodations in beautiful Neiafu Harbour. In the harbor are several spacious houses with several bedrooms. It is a cozy and comfortable setting! Group leaders range from famous photographers to biologists, and each season brings different trip leaders.

Best travel time for a snorkeling vacation to Tonga

The best time to go to Tonga to swim with the whales is definitely from July through October. This is the season when whales munch past Tonga, in large numbers.

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Average Temperatures

Wetsuit advice for snorkeling with Whales in Tonga

In general, a shorty or 3mm is more than enough since you are on the surface a lot. Ordinary swimwear is also possible, but then you run the risk of getting sunburned or cold after a while, among other things.

What will you experience on this snorkeling vacation?

View itinerary here

Day 1 | Arrival in Tonga

Upon arrival at Tonga’s airport, a driver will be waiting to greet you warmly. He will escort you to your accommodation, where you can check in from 1 p.m. onwards. Take time to relax and settle in.

In the evening, before the adventure begins, your experienced guides will gather with you and your fellow travelers for an enjoyable dinner. During this informal get-together, you will receive a detailed briefing on the days ahead. The trip leaders will tell you what to expect during your stay in Tonga, tour highlights, and any important information to make your vacation as smooth and enjoyable as possible. It is also a perfect opportunity to ask questions and get you in the mood for the unforgettable days ahead.

Ps. Are you traveling to Tonga from Europe? Then you will be on the road for about 2 days, of course we at EWDR will pick the best flights for you. You can also book these with us.

Day 2 - 10 | Whales, Whales, Whales.....

Over the next 9 days, we have put together a full schedule for you, with a total of 7 days where you will be out on the water to meet the whales and snorkel.

Whale Days

At 7 a.m. you will be picked up at your accommodation or resort for a day of whale watching, swimming and snorkeling. You will be accompanied by an experienced captain and guides, who will track the whales. As soon as they find whales that seem approachable and interactive, jump in the water. Lunchtime may vary depending on the whales, but they try to stop at several snorkeling spots throughout the day. Between 2:30 and 3:00 pm you will return to your accommodation, where you can enjoy a hot shower before dining out in the evening at Neiafu or at your resort.

Rest days Thursday & Sunday

On Thursday, you will have a free day to fill as you see fit. You can explore the islands, snorkeling, diving, quad biking or just relax on the beach. There are plenty of activities to keep you entertained.

Sunday is really a day of rest in Tonga, and most places are closed except for the cafes. You still have the option of exploring the islands, snorkeling at your accommodation or just relaxing on a beach. It is a day to enjoy the beautiful surroundings at your own pace.

Day 11 | End of snorkeling trip

The beautiful trip with the whales is over. From your accommodation on Tonga, you will be transferred to the airport.

For divers, this is the perfect time to travel on to Fiji and add another great diving vacation. Because seriously, you’re on the other side of the world by now anyway 😉 If vacations allow, we really recommend this!

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The accommodation

The stay and surroundings

Villa / Lodge in Neiafu Harbour

During this snorkeling vacation, you will stay one of the houses rented at Neiafu Harbour. You share the house with other snorkelers who also join you on the daily snorkeling excursions. The organizer we work with has been doing this for years and it really adds an element of conviviality to the experience!

Herewith some pictures of the houses you are staying in. Accommodation is on a half-board basis with lunch also included on whale days. Per snorkeling trip, accommodation may change, feel free to ask us for more information. There are also opportunities if you come alone.

Scott Portelli

Learn more about the man behind these trips

Swimming with Gentle Giants

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EWDR partners with wildlife photographer Scott Portelli to offer these trips. Scott Portelli is an international award-winning photographer with expertise in wildlife, nature, aerial and underwater photography. He has spent thousands of hours in remote areas around the world capturing nature, wildlife and underwater environments. Scott has won numerous awards, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2022 and 2016. He has also been named Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year in 2021 and previously won in the animal behavior category in 2017 and 2019. In addition to photography, he has produced successful documentaries and is a licensed RPAS/UAV/UOeC pilot working on aerial photography projects in extreme conditions. Scott shares his knowledge through workshops and lectures, with a focus on underwater and wildlife photography. Scott is our partner in Tonga and responsible for putting together these special trips.

Travel costs

What is included

This snorkeling vacation to Tonga is available from €6875 per person. The trip can be extended as desired, for example with an extension in Fiji. A number of things are included by default in this travel package.

Prices are subject to price changes, increases or changing exchange rates. Flights are always based on the cheapest possible booking class.

Want to know more about this snorkeling vacation to Tonga? Get in touch with us!

Included in this diving trip, from €6875,- p.p.

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Want to save or share the details of this diving trip with someone? You can do so by sending the trip by email.

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Frequently asked questions about this snorkeling vacation

We recommend bringing your own mask, snorkel and fins, as it is always more comfortable and less problematic to have gear that you know. Here’s another list of basic items to bring:

  • Sunscreen 30+ (preferably reef friendly)
  • Sunglasses
  • Wetsuit (mainly for buoyancy, since the water temperature is about 25°C)
  • Mask, fins, snorkel
  • Camera
  • Swimwear
  • Sun hat
  • Beach towel (mainly for the boat)
  • Spray jacket/wind jacket
  • Summer clothes: shorts, T-shirts, sandals
  • Insect Spray
  • Basic medical supplies

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the trip. You can also buy staples at the local supermarket (bread, fruit, granola). Lunch will be provided on the boat. For dinner, we usually go to restaurants or cafes. There are several nice cafes and restaurants with a good choice of food, so you won’t go hungry.

The interactions can last 1 minute or 1 hour, depending on how comfortable the whales are, but expect to get up close and personal with them at some point during your trip.

About 7 hours a day. The time spent in the water depends on the whales, weather and location. During lunch we will try to stop at different snorkeling spots. Note: By law, 7 hours is the maximum time allowed for whale watching at sea.

We often see dolphins, pilot whales and very occasionally whale sharks, sperm whales and manta rays. You never know what you might encounter.

We try to snorkel every day on the pristine coral reefs, in beautiful caves and the blue sapphire-colored waters that surround the islands.

No. We only snorkel with the whales because there are specific rules prohibiting diving with them. The whales often stay close to shallow water or at the surface, so there is no need to dive.

The days are flexible so that we can enjoy and take into account the wild behavior of the humpback whales. As a rough guide:

  • 07:00/07:30: Pick up
  • Search for whales and swim with them until lunch. 
  • Lunch will be served on the boat, the exact time depends on the activity of the whales.
  • 2:30 p.m.: Usually around this time, we begin rounding out our time with the whales and go snorkeling at a beautiful reef.
  • 14:30 – 15:30: We return to the accommodation to relax and take a hot shower before going out for dinner.

On all our tours we have a photography guide, a marine biologist, a Tongan skipper and a Tongan guide on board with us. All of our crew and guides are licensed, which is important both for your safety and for the whales. In addition, we pride ourselves on how experienced, friendly and knowledgeable our local crew is.

Yes, our marine biologist will give some presentations on marine life, environment and conservation during your stay in Tonga.

Yes, our professional photographer and guides will hold some talks on photography and the whales.

Of course! You are welcome to bring your photography equipment into the water (we can recommend cameras if you plan to buy one before you arrive). Our experienced guides are also on hand to help with photography tips during the trip. For more experienced photographers, they can help you capture the photos you envision.

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