Swim with Whales in Tonga

"a standout ethical ecotourism experience"

Simon Mustoe

Simon Mustoe

Writer, photographer and founder of Wildiaries


Join us to swim with whales in Tonga

Why not join us for the experience of a lifetime - swimming with whales in Tonga? "Ethical", "sustainable", "professional", "best practice", "responsible" ... these are all words that our guests and conservation partners have used to describe the experienced professionals that will guide you on this life-changing experience.

Discover the beauty of the ocean's most inquisitive creatures. To look directly into a whale's eye is an encounter that moves many to tears and leaves none unchanged

We are delighted to have the chance to introduce you safely and sustainably, to Tonga's largest and most charismatic inhabitants.

About swimming with humpback whales

Every year between the end of July and October, Humpback Whales congregate around the islands of Tonga in the South Pacific.

There is a reason why it's famous for this activity. The whales here are, for some reason, particularly receptive to human encounter. Young adult whales that are yet to breed are particularly interactive. It's these whales that are present in the peak season that make for the best encounters.

This makes Tonga a superior location for this activity than anywhere else in the world. If swimming with whales 'on their terms' is your dream, then Tonga is the about the only place that can happen. 

Here is a video from a whale swim we ran just before COVID. It's these types of experience we're aiming to get for our guests and that takes a bit of time. Not all whales are equal and there's no point in chasing an encounter. What you see online is the highlight of a season. But to date, we've managed to get this type of experience for all our guests.   

How to get there

Getting to Tonga is simple for these tours.

We are based on the main island of Tongatapu and work with the lovely Tanoa International Dateline Hotel in Nuku'Alofa (see pictured). The flight takes about 4.5 hours from Australia. There are also direct flights from New Zealand. Though we usually recommend going via Fiji as the schedules are a little more regular.

Importantly, you don't have to fly inter-island. In recent years these have been extremely unreliable, leaving many guests stranded. The minimum number of extra days to reach these destinations is three. Other whale swims on Vav'au and Ha'Apai require internal flights. 

What's the best time of year?

Any time from late July to mid-October is good. The peak season month is August but September and October are fine too.  We put this article together about what it takes to get a great whale swim.

Is it safe and can I do it?

We run particularly high safety and risk assessment standards on our trips. It's essential though that you can swim and you will need a certain level of fitness. But we have had guests from 8 to 80 years old. 

What does it cost?

Our trips are almost all-inclusive, apart from international flights.

We have two styles of trip:

Premium - These 8-day tours run from Wed-Wed weekly from late July to the start of September. They have optimal comfort for a max of 6 people, 5 full whale swim days, a flexible schedule and expert led. Choose this if your guests are looking for the best dedicated whale swim opportunity. They are during the main season for young adult whales.

Budget - These 5-day tours have two variations, either running Sat-Thu, or Mon-Sat, from early September until mid-October. This is an off-main experience on a boat shared with some day-trip swimmers and 2.5 non-flexible whale swim days. Note, the two variations have slightly different arrival and departure plans, due to flight schedule differences

Prices vary from just under AU$3,000 pp twin share in 2024 for a Budget trip (5 days, incl 2.5 days with whales) to about AU$7,700 pp twin share for a Premium trip (8 days, incl 5 days with whales). The budget trips only run in September and October.  


About the Author
Simon Mustoe

Simon Mustoe

Writer, photographer and founder of Wildiaries


Simon is CEO of DeluxeLife. He is also an ardent conservationist and has been studying and observing wildlife for over 40 years. He's written a book called Wildlife in the Balance. He loves taking his worldwide travel experience to help people discover new and exciting places to visit,as well as contributing to science and conservation.