Last year, after a couple of failed attempts to get there, I spent three weeks in Tonga to swim with and photograph the humpback whales that migrate there every winter from their feeding grounds in the Antarctic. To say it was a seminal experience would be an understatement...
I have been fortunate to dive in many parts of the world, but this was my first experience with such large creatures. Tonga is not the easiest place to get to, particularly if you are traveling from the Europe or North America as you have to go through either Sydney or Auckland to get to the capital Nukuʻalofa which is the only international gateway. Then you have to get up to the north of the archipelago to Neiafu in the Vava'u group of islands which is where most of the whale watching is based because of the sheltered bays in that area.
But it's worth the journey because the whales are there, their numbers are slowly but steadily increasing and the encounters you can have are simply fantastic as Tonga is one of the few places in the world where a limited number of operators are licensed to take people in the water with the whales.
As I normally do on my big trips I have documented my experiences and images on my site - no financial angle here.... I paid for my trips myself and there is no advertising on my site. I just like to write about my experiences, simple as that.
There are numerous pages on the humpback whales of Tonga, covering everything from their annual migration to the different types of encounters you can have together with the logistics involved. You can access all that through this link to my site and PM me if you would like any advice based on my personal experience.
- adamhanlon likes this