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Swimming with humpback whales in the South Pacific

The Kingdom of Tonga is a Polynesian archipelago comprising of around 170 islands, of which only 36 are inhabited.  The islands cover an area of 270,000 square miles and are split into three main groups; Tongatapu in the south, Ha’apai in the centre and Vava’u in the north. The islands were formed by a chain of volcanoes stretching 500 miles across the South Pacific Ocean and are covered in lush vegetation and most lined with white beaches.

Tonga is famous for the humpback whales that frequent the islands seasonally and is one of the only places in the world where you can legally and responsibly swim with them. Snorkelling with humpback whales is carefully regulated in Tonga, in small groups of just 4 snorkellers to a guide, and the Ha’apai Beach Resort, located in the the Ha’apai Islands, is one of the very best operators in Tonga to go with. This has to be on the bucket list for just about everyone!

Getting there
There are several ways to get to Tonga, but the most comment routes are via New Zealand, Fiji or Australia. Air New Zealand offer direct flights from Auckland five times per week, with a flight time of just under 3 hours. If travelling via Fiji, you can take direct flights from Nadi to Tonga two times per week, with a flight time of just over 2 hours. For those travelling via Australia, there are direct flights on Virgin Australia twice a week, with a flight time of around 4.5 hours.

Stay a bit longer
With such a choice of routing to choose from, adding an extension to a Tonga trip is very easy to do. We have indepth knowledge of Fiji and can offer a range of great dive resorts there to compliment your Tonga trip. We also have extensive knowledge of New Zealand and Australia and can arrange hotel stays and tours for you in each of these destinations.

Quick Guide: Tonga

  • Location: South Pacific Ocean
  • When to go: All year round but hottest and wettest Dec-Apr, cooler and drier between May-Nov.
  • Average air temp: 27C – 30C
  • Average water temp:  24C – 28C
  • Recommended diver level: No dive certification required for humpback whale swims

 Ha’apai Beach Resort

Ha’apai Beach Resort is is a simple and intimate boutique resort, set along the beach front and overlooking a large turquoise lagoon. Set amid lawned gardens and palms, the resort comprises of five beach houses, each containing either two double rooms or four single rooms. The twin/double rooms have private en-suite bathrooms, while the four single rooms share a bathroom. Each house has a garden view and direct access to the beach and all rooms are fully insect screened and cooled by an ovehead fan.

The resort has an ocean front restaurant serving three meals per day and complimentary teas and coffees are available throughout the day.

The resort has a very relaxed vibe, ensuring that guests experience the most of this stunning South Pacific paradise.

Ha’apai Beach Resort has a fully equipped SSI dive centre and offers diving to some beautiful reefs around the islands and there is also a house reef, ideal for leisurely afternoon dives. While Tonga is an all year round destination, it is the arrival of the humpback whales seasonally that is one of the main draws to this region. Between July to mid-October, the islands of Ha’apai provide a safe haven for humpback whales that come in from the Antarctic to breed, birth and socialise. Ha’apai Beach Resort has a superb reputation for finding the humpbacks and responsibly getting snorkellers into the water with them. Whale swim days depart at 8.30am, usually arriving back at around 2.30pm. Every day is different and dependant on the whale’s behaviour so we recommend at least three days dedicated to swimming with whales to give you the very best chances of a life-changing encounter.

Ha’apai Beach Resort is reached by a short domestic flight from Tongatapu, which operates Mondays to Saturdays. It is just a few minutes drive from the domestic airport to the resort.

Guide price: From £55 per person / per night including breakfast.
Humpback whale swims are around £160 per person per day.

*Price shown is for guide purposes only and is based on low season travel and for twin share accommodation. Any length of stay is possible, please contact us for a confirmed cost based on your preferred duration and time of travel.

Ready for your next adventure?

Great Escapes Diving Holidays Ltd

Combs Tannery
Tannery Road
IP14 2EN
United Kingdom

Office hours: Mondays to Fridays, 9am - 5pm
Tel: 01449 535010

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