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Whale Swims on Tonga

"a standout ethical ecotourism experience that I am delighted to recommend” - Jeff Weir, Executive Director, Dolphin Research Institute


How do I get there? There are regular direct flights from Sydney and Auckland, often for about $800 return.

When is the best time to go? Whale numbers peak from around late July to September. We only operate in the best weeks.

Do I need to SCUBA? No, SCUBA isn't permitted with whales in Tonga

How fit do I need to be? You must be able to swim and you need a moderate level of fitness.

What are the age limits? We have had young kids and elderly on board. It depends more on your fitness and ability to swim.

What equipment do I need? We provide wetsuits and snorkelling gear but you are welcome to bring your own.

What do you mean by 'ethical' whale swim? We've assembled this article to tell you.

Are you a local business? Wildiaries is based in Australia but we buy the travel from our Tongan friends. The majority of your ticket price is paid to our operators who employ teams of locals to do your transfers, whale swim guiding, meal preparation, cultural tours, provision of accommodation etc. We're proud to be working with them and helping them reach people like you, by providing a sustainable alternative to whale swims.

🐋Don't leave without a Brochure

The brochure is packed with information about the trip and Tonga.

And what if you can't find us again online? This way you can stay in touch and we can keep you informed about future trips.

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Price & Booking


Ours is one of the most affordable whale swims in the Kingdom. You won't need to do any inter-island travel, which saves you about 3 days and internal flights. The areas we visit are primarily with young male whales, which is why we boast a continued high standard of experience. It's all about knowing when, where and how to get the best swim.

  • 5 days whale swims on the best 5 days out of six (excluding Sunday)
  • Airport and vessel transfers
  • Expert guides with you 24/7
  • 7 b/fasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners
  • 7 nights’ accommodation in a secure private guesthouse with ensuite

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Watch the film

Why travel with us?

After experiencing the operation provided by Dave and his team first-hand, the Institute has agreed to put aside a week that we will recommend to our supporters as both an experience of a lifetime and excellent example of ethical ecotourism.

Dave’s commitment to the welfare and understanding of the whales, combined with his gift as a skipper and guide, make his whale swims a standout ethical ecotourism experience that I am delighted to recommend.”

- Jeff Weir, Executive Director, Dolphin Research Institute

Our Local Partners

We are pleased to be working with one of Tonga's most experienced local travel agents and helping them reach out to Australian customers. Their team take our guests on incredible cultural tours as well as organising everything from start to finish and being our eyes and ears on the ground, to make sure your trip is a success. Our vessel operator is one of the longest-standing firms on the island and employs local guides who, over the years, we have got to know very well. A surprisingly large number of people and activities go into planning a single week trip for you and we couldn't do it without our Tongan associates and it is our pleasure to give them the chance to reach out to Australia and be able to sell travel to their island, so you can meet the lovely people of Tonga.

We don't swim with cow and calf pairs

We'll let you into a secret - the swims are better, longer and more exciting this way. It's also the best way we can guarantee to you, that your holiday won't be having an impact on the lives of the animals you're encountering. If you check our videos, testimonials and Facebook page, you'll see this doesn't reduce the experience - in fact, we find the encounters with subadults to be richer and more diverse.

Read here to find out why ...

Image by Image by Juliet Ferguson

Want to Ask us a Question?

Call +61(0) 405 220 830
Or complete the form (below).

What would you like to know?

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More About Us


Best trip of my life, great diving and awesome fish, can’t wait to go back. Thanks Dave and the crew - Sam Morgan

Amazing crew all round! So passionate and caring about whales. Skipper Dave was extremely knowledgeable about whales, guides very knowledgeable about local area and reefs and were very confident and made us feel very at ease - Mikala Peters, Wildlife Coast Cruises

Incredible and way better than I anticipated, particularly being in the water with a singing whale was a highlight for me - Carlos Olavarria, Marine Mammal Scientist

Unforgettable experience... From the moment we arrived we felt part of the extended family. The local boat crews are fabulous & lots of fun & always willing to help out. Swimming with the whales was an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life - Kirsty Faulkner

David Donnelly

Dave is a marine mammal researcher with over twenty years field experience and a broad background in marine science including eco-tourism, oil and gas, documentary film making and research. He has worked for six universities on a range of scientific projects. He has been part of the Antarctic Blue Whale Project since January 2012, runs the Australian Orca database and is an experienced tracker of singing Humpback Whales. Dave brings extensive experience to the team as a highly-skilled marine fauna observer, small boat operator and safety diver.

Our Whales

We want you to have the greatest time and leave with a life-changing whale swim encounter. Finding the right whales to swim with means being safer and getting a more rewarding experience. We don't target mums with calves but look for groups of young animals who choose to spend time with with us that isn't a distraction from their normal routines. In our experience this makes for altogether better encounters.


The Experience

Your 7-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 swim can last up to an hour or so. 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.

*What's Included?

  • 5 days whale swims on the best 5 days out of six (excluding Sunday)
  • Airport and vessel transfers
  • Expert guides with you 24/7
  • 7 b/fasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners
  • 7 nights’ accommodation in a secure private guesthouse with ensuite

Excluded: anything not listed above, international flights, alcoholic drinks and items of a personal nature.


  • For $150 per person, a cultural island tour including lunch, guiding and transport, can be arranged with our Tongan guides for your one non-whale-swim day that is not the Sunday.

Getting there

Let us know if you'd like our registered travel agent to arrange your flights for you.


There are regular direct flights from Sydney and Auckland.

For the latest flight information, visit the Kingdom of Tonga website

Where is it?

Your holiday is on the main island of Tonga Tapu, accessed via the capital Nuku’Alofa.


Visitors from most countries do not need a visa to enter Tonga. The latest details are also on the Kingdom of Tonga website. Please also check with your travel agent before flying.


For all Sales & Marketing enquiries, contact:
Simon Mustoe
Tel: +61 (0) 405 220 830