Whale Watching in Tonga

Whales are among the largest mammals on earth, and the warm Pacific waters of Tonga are one of only three places in the world where you can actually swim with these majestic creatures. If you’re searching for a Pacific holiday with a difference, a whale watching adventure in Tonga could be just the answer.Whalewatching in Tonga © Tonga Visitors Bureau

Whale watching is a relatively new industry to Tonga and is raising awareness of whale conservation in a community that once used to hunt them. The whales arrive yearly to mate and calve in the warm waters around the Vava’u Group.

It’s mainly the South Pacific Humpback whales that head to Tonga, but you may also catch sight of killer whales, spinner and bottlenose dolphins. The humpbacks can get up to 14.5m long and weigh up to 40 tonnes, with 5m long flippers. The complex and repetitive song they sing is thought to be part of their mating ritual.

Whales head up to Tonga at the end of May and the best time for watching them is between July and October. The migratory path of the whales is just 30 minutes from the Port of Refuge in Vava'u Group and there are plenty of companies that will take you up close to observe the whales playing and breaching the surface of the water.
Humpback, Tonga © Tonga Visitors Bureau
Strict guidelines in Tonga ensure the protection of the whales and while you can’t scuba dive around them, you can swim or snorkel within 30m. Even from this distance, you can see the whales glide through the water and hear their haunting songs, which travel for miles through the warm ocean. The humpback whales put on quite a show with acrobatic displays as they slap their heads and flippers on the water, lob their tales and breach. Coming so close to a mother and her calf is a truly amazing experience.

If getting this close sounds a little too daring, there are plenty of land vantage points in Tonga that will still provide a wonderful view. The raised limestone cliffs from the Toafa Lookout on west Vava’u are great for whalewatching, and you can also head to ‘Eua Island (south of the Tongatapu Group) or to the Ha’apai Group.

Order your free Jasons Tonga Visitor Guide now.