Humpback Whale Swimming – Tonga 2020

Swimming with Gentle Giants


Check out all our tour dates here: 2019 and 2020 Tours



As the Humpbacks arrive in large numbers to breed and give birth, you will bear witness to one of nature’s great events. The crystal clear waters of Vava’u are the perfect place for nurturing mothers teaching their calves how to be whales –  the curious calves explore their environment and seek out interactions with the new world they have entered. This tour, with small groups and extremely experienced and friendly crew, gives you the best chance to interact with lively calves and nurturing mothers lazing their days away in the crystal clear water around the Islands.

We embark at 7:00am every day from your resort for a full day of humpback whale swimming, stopping only for lunch and to admire this marine sanctuary and snorkel pristine coral reefs. You will encounter boisterous males, nurturing females and energetic calves, and may be lucky enough to join large groups of pursuant males on a heat run, or experience the eery beauty of a singing male.

Sarah Kohan and a humpback whale underwater, award winning image at International Color Awards 2017 by Scott Portelli

These gentle giants of the sea give birth in the tropical waters of Vava’u to ensure the safety of their new born calves. You will be witness to the bond between mother and calf and the unique behaviour that can only be experience by observing these amazing creatures in their natural environment. Award-winning photographer Scott Portelli will share what he has learnt in his 15 years of experience photographing these amazing animals, and the best secret spots to visit. Your day is filled with excitement and admiration only stopping to explore the coral gardens, impressive caves and abundant marine life that inhabits Tonga.

humpback whale swimming over and under the water, a snorkeler face to face with a calf and a humpback whale calf playing in the waterSample Itinerary

Days 1 – 3

7am – Pickup from your resort for a day of whale watching & snorkeling.

Anytime – A day on the water, with our experienced skipper and guides spotting whales. We jump in with those we think will be approachable and interactive. Lunch depends on the whales, but we try and stop in a number of snorkeling spots each day.

3:30-4:30pm – Return to your resort for a warm shower before you venture out for dinner in Neiafu.

Day 4

Leisure Day – Spend the day exploring the islands, snorkeling, diving, quad bike riding or just relaxing on a beach. There are plenty of activities to keep you entertained.

Days 5 – 6

7am – Pickup from your resort for a day of whale watching & snorkeling.

Anytime – More whale swims, and a chance to experience some of the varieties of behaviour found in Tonga – large groups in a heat run, curious calves, or singing males. Lunch again depends on the whales, but will probably also involve a visit to the legendary Swallow’s Cave, or breath-taking Mariners Cave.

3:30-4:30pm – Return to your resort for a warm shower before you venture out for dinner in Neiafu.

Day 7

Leisure day – Sunday’s are a time for rest in Tonga and most places are closed except for the café’s. You can still spend the day exploring the islands, snorkeling near your resort or just relaxing on a beach.

Days 8 – 10

7am – Pickup from your resort for a day of whale watching & snorkeling.

Anytime – Humpback whales, and also the opportunity to jump in with other wildlife if we spot anything. Previous trips have encountered everything from sperm whales, to manta rays, to whale sharks, to pilot whales. When we’re ready for a break, we’ll have lunch before snorkelling pristine coral reefs.

3:30-4:30pm – Return to your resort for a warm shower before you venture out for dinner in Neiafu.

heat run humpback whales underwater

Here’s what previous guests have thought about the tour:

Vava’u is a special place, a magical place and we have Scott Portelli to thank for sharing this part of his life with us, as well as the incredible people of Tonga for making us feel so welcome.

Extraordinary and indescribable are two words that come to mind when attempting to retell the experience of swimming with humpback whales. The pristine blue and turquoise waters allows you to greet these enormous, yet curious mammals and literally meet them eye to eye.

To swim alongside these gentle giants is a humbling experience and it’s the skill and experience that Scott and his crew bring that makes all of it possible. The knowledge that Scott shares and his passion for everything to do with the oceans is infectious. His humble dedication and commitment to environmental sustainability and protection is admirable.

If you’re one of the few who get to experience this magical place with Scott and his team, consider yourself really really lucky. We can’t wait to do it all over again.” – Louise Tran

Read more of our testimonials

humpback whale mother and calf photographed on tour with scott portelli in

Dates & Rates

Tour Cost $6550

Price includes

  • Boat, crew and guide for 7 days on the water
  • 10 Nights Accommodation (Shared Premium Lodge/House on the water)
  • Lunch & snacks while onboard
  • Photography/Research advice and guidance in the water
  • Daily snorkeling on reefs and in caves
  • Airport transfers in Vava’u.
  • Maximum of 6 people to maximize your time in the water with the whales.

Price does not include

  • International and domestic flights
  • Excess baggage charges on flight
  • All items of a personal nature such as laundry, meals ashore, bar, beverages and telecommunication charges
  • Gratuities

More details about the trips, availabilities, accommodation and advice at the Swimming with Gentle Giants website.

tonga collage of humpback whales cave swimming underwater

To register your interest to join us in Tonga for this once in a lifetime experience, click here.