July is here with us and for the ocean swimming and deep sea diving enthusiasts; there is a cultural change, an adventure you that you cannot afford to miss: swimming with humpback whales. Whether it is for exclusive professional photography, marine biology or just for fun, this activity has got it all in one package and it offers an unrivaled thrill. This year however, there is an added spice to it; the South Pacific Paradise is celebrating 20 years of eco-tourists swimming with whales. So where exactly is this paradise of tranquility? Well, it just has to be The Kingdom of Tonga.
The Kingdom of Tonga
The Kingdom of Tonga stands out as the one of the only two locations in the Southern Hemisphere that offers this phenomenal opportunity to swim with humpback whales. Having already featured in such reputable documentaries as BBC’s Life Documentary series and voted among the world’s best experiences in Australia’s ‘Getaway’ series, swimming with humpback whales in Tonga is an unparalleled ecotourism attraction. July offers the perfect timing for swimming junkies to derive an extra pleasure and drive their adrenaline rush to a whole new level.
It is a period that stands out for not only having a rare a glimpse of the spectacular migration of the humpback whales, but also for, according to visitors, an opportunity to swim alongside these magnificent, gigantic creatures. This is the time when the humpback whales visit the magnificent and eye-catching coral reefs of Tonga to deliver their offspring and breed, having travelled thousands of kilometers from the ice-cold environment of Antarctica. While visitors have an option of watching the whales from the comfort of their boats, a swimming session alongside these 40-ton creatures in the crystal-clear and pristine marine waters of Tonga’s 150 islands is an unforgettable and breathtaking experience.
During this period, visitors can get a rare chance to experience the courtship process among the humpback whales, whereby the male humpbacks ‘sing’ out their hearts in low notes, with their songs of love carrying through water to as far as 100 kilometers to attract their female partners. The Tongan island group of Vava’u offers this rare experience, with the humpback whales renowned for swimming close to the shore, which reduces the need to go deep into the ocean.
The authorities in this beautiful country have also taken it upon themselves to ensure that visitors feel welcome and are made to feel at home away from home. Moreover, the Tongan culture is known for its accommodating nature and their rich culture caters exceptionally to visitors. The rates are very much affordable and pocket friendly. Whale-watching expeditions start from $300 per day, with several travelling and expedition agencies licensed to provide tourist services. Daily flights are available from various Australian cities at AUD 500 while there are 5 weekly flights from Auckland, New Zealand.
For those who intend to visit for a long time, travel permits with a 31-day validity period are issued for free upon showing a return air ticket for citizens of Europe, United States, Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom. For your accommodation, this South Pacific Paradise has some of the best hotels and restaurants with the amenities you could need such as Wi-Fi, state-of the art swimming pools, tea and coffee making facilities, in-room safe etc.
Featured image source: AMOS Photography