Spend six full days snorkeling with humpback whale mother-calf pairs on their calving grounds in Tonga, exploring coral gardens off the coast of Vava'u, and experiencing authentic Polynesian culture. This trip was named one of National Geographic Traveler's "50 Tours of a Lifetime" in 2009!
Tonga's tropical waters are the mating and calving grounds for endangered humpback whales who migrate there annually from their feeding grounds in Antarctica. From July through November, the cows remain in Tonga to allow their newborn calves to grow in strength and stamina in preparation for their journey to summer feeding grounds in the south. The whales' prolonged presence in Tonga's calm, tropical waters creates a unique opportunity to observe and even snorkel with these gentle giants, and the expedition is designed around these experiences.
Off the beautiful coral formed island of Vava'u, you will be immersed in whale watching above and below the water's surface. From comfortable beachfront accommodations, daily excursions are made by private boat to snorkel with and observe the whales and other colorful marine life. You would also get to explore the unique island of Vava'u, to meet with local conservation groups, learn about local culture and natural history, and enjoy a day of relaxation by the beach.
This is an unforgettable and intimate experience available in just a few places on Earth. The 2017 departure will be guided by renowned underwater photographer, Doug Perrine.
The focus of this trip will be to see and snorkel with the humpback whale mother and calf pairs that reside here for several months each year. You will have the opportunity to observe many whale behaviors and may also hear the whales' beautiful songs.
You'll also be able to snorkel the beautiful and relatively untouched coral reefs that surround Vava'u, where we'll see a colorful array of invertebrates, fish, and corals. On land, you will learn about Tonga's unique plant and bird diversity, which includes some endemic and endangered species, like the Tongan Whistler.
Expedition dates are September 15–24, 2016 and September 11–20, 2017.