8-day Expert Led Tonga Whale Swims
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"Standout Ethical Ecotourism"
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
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.
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Note, there is no difference in the likelihood of whale encounters between these dates. All dates are within the main whale swim period.
- Aug 3 - Aug 10
- Aug 10 - Aug 17 Group Reservation* Limited spaces available
- Aug 17 - Aug 24 Group Reservation*Limited spaces available
- Aug 24 - Aug 31
- Aug 31 - Sep 7 Group Reservation*Limited spaces available
- Sep 7 - Sep 14 Group Reservation*Limited spaces available
- Sep 14 - Sep 21
- Sep 21 - Sep 28
- Sep 28 - Oct 5
*This often means we are working with a specialist interest partner. Spaces are still potentially available, so please enquire about these dates, as you may be able to join the group.
Image by Image by Juliet Ferguson
Image by Image by Jess Cripps
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Best trip of my life, great diving and awesome fish, can’t wait to go back. Thanks Dave and the BWE 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 Blue Water family. The local boat crews are fabulous & lots of fun & always willing to help out. The boat is very comfortable and especially suited for whale watchers. Swimming with the whales was an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life - Kirsty Faulkner
Our Guarantee to You
Our itineraries, inclusions and exclusions, are clearly stated. We use a specially-designed vessel, a uniquely qualified driver/guide (one of, if not the, most experienced and qualified in the whole of the Kingdom) and employ standards of ethical practice beyond standard rules, which guarantee longer and more engaging experiences.
On price, we are one of the least expensive trips and without the need for internal transfers, can provide 5 full days of whale swims for a week's holiday, plus two days spare for relaxation / cultural tours. This makes us the obvious choice for anyone who is looking for a hassle-free extended break, maximising whale swim time at minimal cost and operated to a high standards of ethical practice.
More About Us
MV Blue Water Explorer
MV Blue Water Explorer is a custom-designed 9 metre, fibreglass coated, wooden hulled vessel. She is fitted with quiet, low emissions engines and carries a full compliment of safety equipment. The design of the vessel provides for good dry stowage and plenty of shelter whilst at sea. A roof top spotting tower is of great assistance when looking for whales. Our fully qualified, experienced and friendly crew will ensure that your time onboard is a safe and memorable experience.
Our guesthouse is comfortable and practical double-storey accommodation, within a secure compound in a secluded street. This 6 bedroom house (2 with ensuite). It is only five minutes’ transfer from the boat harbour and is very spacious. There is plenty of room for all of your dive gear and a great, secure storage area. Your meals are prepared by local chefs. On the menu are a range of foods including traditional Tongan dishes. Fresh sashimi is a speciality. These sensational meals have proven very popular with all of our guests.
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.
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.
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 MV Blue Water Explorer. 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 Blue Water Explorer, 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.
- 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 shared bathroom (a small supplement applies for 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.
- $350 per day for ensuite room (only 2 available).
Let us know if you'd like our registered travel agent to arrange your flights for you.
As of the start of 2016, there are daily flights to and from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne; and flights five times per week from 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.
MEDIA & TRADE
Tel: +61 (0) 405 220 830