Whale Encounters

Whales in Tonga
Best times
Why choose us
Our boat
What to expect

Join us for an unforgettable whale encounter experience

Picture yourself surrounded by crystal-clear waters as you glide through the warm embrace of the South Pacific surrounded by awe-inspiring humpback whales.


The tranquil beauty of Tonga sets the stage for an extraordinary encounter with humpback whales, and you can experience it for yourself!  Tonga is one of the few countries where you can swim with these gentle giants, and it provides the perfect sanctuary for these iconic marine mammals.


Humpback whales leave their feeding grounds as early as June in Antarctica to journey past New Zealand to the South Pacific sub-sea volcanic arch and the Tongan archipelago.


It is one of the world’s largest and longest animal movements; their migration takes 6,000 km. During this time, they engage in their fascinating ritual of mating, giving birth, and nurturing their young.

The whales of Tonga are one of the six main humpback populations in the southern Pacific and are referred to as the “Tongan Tribe”.


The allure of swimming with whales in Tonga lies in witnessing their immense size and grace and in the unique connection it fosters between humans and nature. The sheer presence of these majestic creatures will fill you with awe and reverence for the natural world.


To observe these nurturing interactions firsthand is a privilege reserved for those who venture to Tonga during the peak whale season.


Enquire with us and we can book your whale encounter trip for you.

Swim with whales in Tonga

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The best times to book your whale encounter experience



They are mostly seen frolicking off the shores of our resort between mid-July and mid-October.


The arrival of Humpbacks – As the humpbacks gather in significant numbers for breeding and birthing, you’ll have the privilege of witnessing one of nature’s grandest spectacles.


The pristine, crystal-clear waters of Ha’apai provide an ideal setting for nurturing mothers imparting essential whale skills to their calves, all while witnessing groups of whales showcasing their majestic and powerful presence.


Playful Humpbacks – Energetic males, caring females, and playful calves abound, filling the waters with lively interactions and numerous groups of whales that grace this island paradise with their presence.


During the midpoint of the season, vibrant calves and caring mothers spend leisurely days in the crystalline waters surrounding the islands of Ha’apai. Inquisitive calves venture to explore their surroundings, eagerly seeking interactions with the novel world they have just entered.

In the tropical waters of Tonga, these majestic sea creatures choose to give birth here, ensuring the safety of their newborn calves.

You’ll have the opportunity to witness the extraordinary bond between mother and calf, observing unique behaviours that can only be fully appreciated by experiencing these amazing creatures in their natural environment. Escort males are waiting ever so patiently for the females.


In October, humpback whales engage in mating and courtship while the calves continue to grow, marking a moment to witness one of nature’s magnificent events. Accompanying the mother and calves, humpback males patiently wait for the mating opportunity before returning to the Antarctic waters for feeding. Additionally, the weather is gradually warming during this period.


From mid-July to mid-October, you will have the highest chance of encountering whales and experiencing the thrill of swimming with them. Booking your trip in advance is highly recommended to secure your spot for this unforgettable adventure.


Your adventure in paradise awaits

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Choose Kitesurf Tonga for your whale encounters


Unparalleled Location:

Our resort is situated on Uoleva island in the Ha’apai group, offering a front-row seat to one of nature’s greatest events. The crystal-clear waters of Ha’apai create the perfect backdrop for unforgettable moments with humpback whales.  There are very few whale operators around the Ha’apai group, which makes the experience even better!


Expertly Guided Tours:

We are a professional whale watch and swim operator fully licensed by the Ministry of Tourism. Since our first whale encounter in Tonga in 2009, Karen & Glen have been on an incredible journey with the humpbacks in Haápai. Glen is an Instructor Trainer Diver and professional Skipper who has also led conservation teams in Fiji and the Philippines and is now focused on Human-Whale interaction and education. Karen has a background in Marine Ecology, diving, and teaching and will certainly enhance your whale encounter experience.

Our aim is to safely share these extraordinary whale encounters with you while increasing your awareness and understanding of humpback whales. Along with our team of experienced professionals, we provide an unforgettable experience of swimming with whales in Tonga.


Diverse Experiences:

From witnessing nurturing mothers teaching their calves to observing playful behaviour and bonding moments, each day brings a new and captivating encounter. Whether you’re an avid snorkeler or a nature enthusiast, Kitesurf Tonga promises a unique and enriching experience for everyone.


Respectful Approach:

We are a fully licensed and professional whale swim operator dedicated to providing the opportunity to swim on every trip. However, it’s important to recognise that whales are wild animals, and your observation will take place in their natural environment. The possibility of swimming depends on various factors, including the whales’ behaviour, their reaction to our presence, and weather conditions.

Our goal is to enhance your experience; therefore, we recommend booking multiple swims to avoid undue pressure on the whales, yourself, or us to achieve a singular, extraordinary encounter on any given day.

We do not support the idea of pursuing or chasing whales. If the whales indicate a lack of interest in interaction, we respect their signals and allow them space. Simply witnessing these magical creatures in their habitat is a remarkable experience. When engaging in wildlife encounters, we encourage you to manage expectations and appreciate any interactions that may occur.

As visitors in their realm, we prioritise the welfare of the whales, consistently adopting a gentle and respectful approach during our encounters. If the whales display signs of disturbance, we immediately cease contact and redirect our efforts to find whales more receptive to interaction.

While our experience with the whales, combined with our careful approach technique, typically leads to exhilarating in-water encounters, our primary objective is to ensure our guests leave with unforgettable and respectful whale moments in Ha’apai.

Swim with whales in Tonga

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Our Boat

Welcome aboard Tropic Bird – Your Gateway to a Comfortable Adventure in Tonga! Embark on an unforgettable journey with our whale boat, Tropic Bird, where comfort meets adventure! Our boat stands out as one of the most comfortable vessels in Tonga, promising an experience like no other. Here’s why Tropic Bird is your ideal choice:

Comfortable Capacity:

Our licensed and surveyed vessel is authorised to carry 12 passengers and 2 experienced crew members. This ensures a personalised and enjoyable experience for everyone on board.


Tailored for Your Comfort:

Tropic Bird is more than just your average boat; it’s an incredible platform designed with your comfort in mind. With a full shade cover and a dedicated seat for each passenger, you can relax and take in the breathtaking beauty of Tonga’s waters.


Easy Entry and Exit:

We prioritise your convenience. Tropic Bird features both a ladder and a swim platform for seamless entry and exit, making every part of your journey hassle-free.


Built for All Conditions:

As a New Zealand-built coastguard search and rescue vessel, Tropic Bird guarantees a comfortable ride, no matter the weather conditions. Our boat is crafted to handle various elements, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience throughout your adventure.


At Kitesurf Tonga, we’re not just providing a whaleboat; we’re offering a ride on Tropic Bird, an oasis of comfort amidst the beauty of the remote Ha’apai group. Join us for an adventure that combines some luxury with the thrill of exploration.


Listen to the whale song:

Tropic Bird also has a hydrophone with a speaker fitted so that you can hear the beautiful whale song above the water!



What you can expect on your whale encounter day with Kitesurf Tonga


Participants are divided into groups of four during their whale encounter experience in Tonga. Each group takes turns swimming with the whales, guided by a licensed whale guide and skipper onboard.

Our guide will lead and supervise the group of four in the water during each group swapover, ensuring a safe and enjoyable encounter.


While spare equipment can be provided, bringing your own wetsuit, fins, mask, and snorkel for guaranteed comfort while swimming alongside these incredible creatures is recommended.

The whale encounter day trips typically depart around 8:30 am to 9 am. You will embark on Tropic Bird, ready for your day.


Before heading off, you will be briefed on safety, the day plan, whale behaviour and how the swimming encounters are conducted.

The day’s plan may include anchoring for lunch, allowing for snorkelling on one of Haapai’s stunning coral reefs or enjoying a picturesque beach on one of the islands.

Your days will be filled with excitement, only stopping to explore the beautiful coral gardens and abundant marine life that inhabit Tonga’s crystal-clear waters.  Each day brings a new experience.


The quest for more whale sightings continues in the afternoon before returning home around 2:30 pm.


Book your whale encounter at Kitesurf Tonga and become part of the extraordinary journey with humpback whales. Join us for an adventure beyond the ordinary, where every day is filled with excitement, admiration, and the natural beauty of Tonga’s marine sanctuary.


Contact us today and we will take care of your booking for you. Please note these encounters get booked out early!

Book your whale encounter experience!

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