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Humpbacks - Tonga or Silver Banks?


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#1 jcclink

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 09:46 AM

Would like to photograph humpbacks. Which area is potentially better - Tonga or Silver Banks? Options I've seen are Nai'a for 10 days or T&C Explorer for 5 days.
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#2 gina

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 02:21 AM

I've been to Tonga twice - once to the Ha'apai group on the Nai'a and once to Vava'u with Tony Wu - and I would recommend either. Both were wonderful trips where we got to spend time in the water with the whales, and both Tony and the Nai'a crew are good people to travel with.

If you go on the Nai'a you'll be living on the boat, and you will most likely be the only whale-watching boat in the area. You'll be moving around following the whales in a Zodiac, then returning to the Nai'a for breaks or when the action is slow. The boat is large and comfy, has a great crew and excellent food.

If you go with Tony you'll be staying on the island and depending where you stay accommodations are modest at best as Tonga doesn't have nice hotels (although last season he used a new resort that may have been more upscale). Snorkeling is done from day boats and you'll be out on the water all day, only returning to port when the day is done. There are many day boats operating out of Vava'u so there is a chance you'll see other groups out there and have to wait your turn with the whales.

I haven't been to Silver Banks so I can't compare. But I think ten days is better than five because wildlife isn't always cooperative, and even in a "good" whale year you may have days with little or no whale action, so more time gives you more chances to spend time with the animals.

-Gina

#3 elbuzo

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 06:45 AM

I've been to Silver Banks several times . Vis is much better at Tonga but there's more whales at Silver Banks .
Also whale aggregations occurs at different time of the year , here is january-march , Tonga is ( i think ) around july-september .

If you live in San Diego i think is fairly the same flight time to both destinations but not sure about costs . For Silver Banks you will need to fly to Puerto Plata , Dominican Republic.

Being in the water with humpback whales is a magical experience , you will love it .

Have a nice trip

#4 Helge Suess

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 12:41 AM

Hi!

I've been to Silverbanks in April 2011. Aquatic Adventures provides great service. The hyve two comfortable tender boats to follow the whales. Staff is very helpful, friendly and knows a lot about the whales. Due to rough weather conditions it wasn't possible to get proper uw-shots. The top 3 meters of water were turbid bubbles only. We saw nice surface action, more than a year before, when the water was calm.

Helge ;-)=)
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