Sail and Swim with the Humpback Whales

Experience the exhilaration of an underwater encounter with an ocean giant…

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8 days from £2,970 pp sharing

  • Includes accommodation, activities, meals, and all transfers to and from Va’Vau airport
  • Deposit £890 pp. Single supplement £820 pp
  • Maximum group size 8 people
  • Excludes international and domestic flights

Download our 2013/14 Tours Guide for information on booking your flights and FAQs about our tours

Your 43ft luxury sailing catamaran, the Kepa II.

For a few months a year, the crystal clear waters of Tonga’s Va’Vau Islands are home to the majestic Humpback Whale. These pristine islands provide a sanctuary for hundreds of whales to mate and give birth after their 5,000 mile journey from Antarctica. Secluded paradise lagoons, crystal clear water, white sand beaches, underwater caves, and traditional Tongan hospitality make this a dream destination.

For those who experience it, snorkelling next to a Humpback Whale is a life changing experience – nothing prepares you for the site of an ocean giant beneath you. Our luxury tour maximises your time spent looking for and hopefully swimming with the Humpback whales, with at least 6 planned days out on the water.

This tour offers you the chance to live on board a luxury sailing 43ft catamaran, anchored in a sheltered lagoon amongst the beautiful islands of Va’Vau. Our catamaran places you in the Whale nursery itself and affords easy access to the whale watching areas.  We follow this with 5 nights at the fabulous Reef Resort on Kapa Island, where your boat will collect you each day for another whale adventure.

To ensure that the welfare of the whales is protected at all times, we work with the most respected operator in the region and follow very strict guidelines on how we interact with the whales.

  • Snorkel with Humpback Whales, including mothers, calves, and groups of boisterous males.
  • Listen to the Whales sing beneath the water.
  • Live aboard a luxury Catamaran, harboured in one of the many secluded lagoons.
  • Explore the secluded white sand beaches and rock pools of a paradise island.
  • Snorkel and swim the crystal clear coral reefs of around 50 different islands.
  • Enjoy a traditional Tongan feast and the warmth and hospitality of the local people.
  • Snorkel the imposing dark blue waters of Swallow’s Cave.
  • Enjoy excellent food and drink as you enjoy the sunset over the South Pacific.
  • Travel with a local operator who works strictly within the ‘Whale Watching Guidelines of Tonga and Nuie’.
  • Have incredible photography opportunities in the water and from your boat as inquisitive Humpback whales approach.
  • Travel in small groups, allowing you maximum time in the water and ensuring less impact on the marine environment.

For a detailed tour itinerary, please download our Tour Brochure.

Days 1
On arrival in Vava’u you will be met by one of our team and transferred to the town of Neiafu. You are free to have breakfast, explore the town, and visit the local market before meeting at 12.00pm for a welcome lunch and briefing. Our guides and crew will carefully explain the plan for the coming days and ensure that you are settled in aboard your luxury catamaran that afternoon. As we enjoy welcoming drinks aboard the catamaran, the captain sets out to Port Maurelle where you will anchor in the secluded lagoon.

Days 2 to 8
Following a thorough briefing on how we interact and swim with the whales, we set off on our island quest. Once the whales are located, we gently snorkel into a position and wait for the encounter. There is nothing like dipping your head below the water and seeing a 40 foot long humpback whale beneath you! Nothing can prepare you for this moment. If we are lucky, the inquisitive whales and calves will approach, keen to investigate and engage with us.

Following our stay on the catamaran, we are welcomed as guests at the Reef Resort by Josef and Renate. The excellent beach front accommodation is perfect to unwind after a day with the whales.

During our days on the water, our experienced team of crew and guides will ensure you have everything you need. Delicious lunches on board the boat, opportunities to snorkel reefs and the famous Mariners and Swallows Caves, and beach combing along palm lined, white sand beaches are all part of our relaxed itinerary when out at sea.

Just some of the wild Tonga you may encounter:

  • Humpback Whale
  • Hammerhead Shark
  • Spinner Dolphin
  • Sailfish
  • Manta Rays
  • Clownfish
  • Parrotfish
  • Moorish Idol
  • Orange Spotted Filefish
  • Pipefish
  • Damselfish
  • Sea Urchins
  • Pufferfish
  • Triggerfish

Many of the photos you see on this site were taken by amateur photographers on our tours.


No online reviews for this tour. Please contact the Encounter the Wild team for a review or testimonial.

Encounter the wild are privileged to work with and support the Ocean Alliance.

Led by Dr. Payne and Chief Executive Officer Iain Kerr, Ocean Alliance collects a broad spectrum of data on whales and ocean life relating particularly to toxicology, behaviour, bioacoustics, and genetics. They advise educators and policy makers on wise stewardship of the world’s oceans. Please read our tour brochure for more information on how your participation can make a difference.