Dolphin Research Institute - 8-day Expert Led Tonga Whale Swims
- Duration: 7 Days (approx.)
- Product code: PQKAPY
Join the Dolphin Research Institute to swim with Humpback Whales in Tonga!
Your 8-day tour starts the moment you land in Tonga and we pick you up from Nuku’Alofa airport to transport you to our private guesthouse.
You will be led by our expert whale biologist guide, Dave Donnelly, who along with Tongan crew and hospitality staff will be looking after you during your stay. While it’s possible to go the whole week barely opening your wallet, we have two non-swim days, where you can explore including a couple of evenings to eat out (we can recommend a range of eateries to suit every budget).
One of the non-swim days is the obligatory Sunday when Tongans are not allowed to work. The other will be the day we think is the least favourable for whale swims - on this day we arrange a supplementary cultural tour with our guides.
For the most part however, we will be heading out about 8am to the harbour and boarding our vessel. Under the careful guidance of our whale specialist, we will spend time looking for and learning about whales.
Finding the right whales means getting the best encounters possible - and while we have had up to 15 swims in a day, sometimes a single swim can last hours. It just depends on the whales‘ mood and that’s where our experts make all the difference to your experience.
By booking with us, you'll avoid the hustle and bustle of the other islands and get the chance to relax in the company of like-minded people with the experience, passion and commitment to deliver an outstanding experience without any hidden costs for you or the whales.
This itinerary is indicative. One of the non-whale swim days is the Sunday. The other is the day we choose as the day with the least favourable conditions for whale swims, which is a day you can relax or take a cultural tour.
Day 1 Thursday
Flights arrive in Tonga about 2am. You will be met at the airport. Expect up to 2 hours to clear customs, pick up luggage and transfer to accommodation (about a 30 minute drive). We will endeavour to have you in bed before 4am or as soon as possible.
Due to the late arrival, we will plan a leisurely breakfast whenever you are ready and leave at the latest 11:00am for the 5-minute bus journey to the boat. This delayed departure will give you time to recover from your journey and still leaves us the majority of the day until early evening with whales.
Day 2 - 7 Friday - Wednesday (excluding Sunday)
Breakfast starts at 7am. At 7:45am the bus takes us to the harbour where we board for our safety briefings for an 8am departure. We spend the whole day looking for and swimming with whales.
On one of the evenings, our guide will give a presentation about Humpback whales in Tonga.
One of these days will be a non whale-swim day. You have the option of a day off / cultural tour (supplement). Dinner is at your own expense on the non whale-swim day.
Wednesday (Day 7) - The final day is also a potential whale swim day as flights leave about midnight. On the last night we will eat together for a final farewell.
After dinner, we will transfer you to a resort very close to the airport, giving you more time to relax in the morning.
Thursday (Day 8)
We will arrange your transfer to the airport for your onward flight.(Day 4 Sunday)
This is a rest day, for Tongan Cultural reasons. Optional Pangaimotu snorkelling trip. Sunday evening dinner will be at your own expense.
- 7 nights’ accommodation in a secure, private guesthouse (including the first night arrival at 2am);
- 5 days whale swims (on the best 5 days out of six, excluding Sunday for cultural reasons)
- Airport and vessel transfers
- Expert guides and hospitality staff on hand 24/7 (minimal non-Tongan staff Sunday)
- 7 continental style buffet breakfasts
- 5 lunches on board whale swims
- 6 dinners
- Use of snorkelling gear and wetsuits
- Flights to and from Tonga
- Alcoholic drinks
- Items of a personal nature
- Lunch on the non-whale swim day (options include eating in local eateries or buying food and making a small lunch in the accommodation or alternatively, included in the supplementary snorkelling tour).
- Lunch on Sunday (options same as the non whale swim day or alternatively, included in the supplementary snorkelling tour).
- Two evening meals
Island cultural tour, $150 (full day, lunch and transport provided)
Payment terms summary
- 20% non-refundable deposit on booking.
- Final non-refundable payment 60 days in advance.
- For full terms and conditions including cancellation policy, see booking page.
- Credit card payments attract a surcharge.
Getting there and away
Our tour begins on the first morning and ends the last night but includes your transfers between our accommodation and the airport. We can book flights for you (please enquire), or if you are booking your flights, ensure you can:
a) ARRIVE on day 1 of our tour no later than 7:30am (we will advise you an address and a contact number for a representative on the ground, closer to the time). You will need to arrange your own transfer. We can recommend a company and book this for you if you let us know where you're staying.
b) DEPART the day after the last day of our tour. Our tour finishes on day 7 and you fly out on day 8.