Tour times for Whale swimming & Watching

Boat departs from Faua Wharf Tongatapu at 9am Mon-Sat and returns around 4pm

  • Confirmed booking is essential, especially during peak season. (This means deposit has been paid)
  • Please advise us of your accommodation provider when you book, so we can contact you if there are any changes to tour times due to weather conditions.
  • All equipment hire and lunch/refreshments are included in your tour price.
  • We will advise you of your pickup times from your accommodation provider.
  • Please call our office 22 840 (9am-4pm) or 8714536 on arrival so we can update you on latest sightings and tour times.
  • Sundays is our day of worship so no boat tours available.

Patience and Slow Pace

Our boat travel at a slow, calm and unhurried pace at 8 knots an hour. We believe it contributes to our very high success rate. With patience and a slow relaxed pace, we minimize disturbance to the whales. Once the whales are sighted, it may take an hour to two hours, to slowly follow at a safe distance. We are conscious that whales do not feel harassed or disturbed so it gives them time to adjust to our approach. The humpback whales can easily swim fast away from us, but our crew’s experience takes time to build up the whales’ curiosity and trust, so instead of swimming away from us, the whales actually stop most times, turn and approach us.

Ten to thirty years of local experience of the captain and crew in reading the sea conditions, the body language and behavior of the whales, they intuitively know which whales to approach those that are interested and open to interaction. At the Captain’s call, our boat stops and allows the whales to initiate the encounter. We achieve 95 percent success.

As well as local crew, we have travelling volunteers who are very experienced and knowledgeable in different fields – marine biology, dive masters, instructors, photographers, video graphers, wild life specialists, and naturalists. They add an important dimension to the composition of expertise on our tours, who interact with guests on many topics of interest.

Our staff will go out of our way to share magical moments with you, when these giants of the sea, turn around and look you in the eye, with an invitation for us to enter the water and share the good news about their newborn baby calf. It’s heartwarming that these giant creatures trust us with the safety of their new born, by allowing them to playfully frolic with us.

Our boats

MV Kiunia is a nice comfortable 15 meter steel hull ex-fishing boat. It has capacity for 25 passengers, although about half are swimmers and the rest are whale watching only. We may have two to four groups of swimmers, but our experience ensure that everyone comes away satisfied that they had the best experience of their life!

There is a 7 meter deck at the back and ladder for easy entry exit in the water. We also have a small aluminium 3 meter boat as back up to the swimmers, if there is anyone that needs assistance in the water.

Captain Samuela Tatafu (right)… before his untimely death in April 2019.

Points of your whale swim

For a SAFE and successful swim these points are be followed and will be repeated to you during the safety briefing on the boat as we depart the wharf.

Please note that whale watching is almost always guaranteed.

  1. Let the guides know if you feel uncomfortable in the water (preferably before you hop in) as we will most likely give you a floatation device for your swim. It is extremely important you tell your crew and guides of any insecurities. Please do not feel embarrassed about any concerns you have, as our crew and guides will look after you and have dealt with it all before.
  2. To enter the water, we will divide guests into groups of 4 with a guide and will be on standby at the back deck to enter the water, at the direction given by the captain.
  3. You will enter the water quietly with as little splashing as possible and follow your guide.
  4. You must not go past or in front of your guide. We cannot stress this enough.
  5. When in the water, huddle together and stay as close as possible. Be spatially aware and try and splash as little as possible. This is for your safety, but to also make the whales feel less threatened. If we are all spread out around them, splashing around, we are displaying the same behaviours as their predators and will most likely frighten them.
  6. When we see the whale(s) in the water raise your hand in the air so others can know. This is for both guides and guests.
  7. We never swim fast at the whales, will always approach slowly. If the whales become curious and start approaching us, the guide will give a sign where his/her arms will be spread out like a ‘T’. This means to stop swimming and stay behind your guide.
  8. As mentioned before, do not go in front of your guide, and always follow your guides instructions. You can jeopardize your safety, as well as the safety of everyone else.

Again, you are in an open ocean and sea conditions can sometimes be challenging. Being a confident swimmer and having experience in snorkelling is recommended and will make your swim more enjoyable.

Cameras are permitted, so please bring your Go Pros so you can record these memorable moments! But please, if you are spending most of your time focusing on your camera and not the whales put your camera down and leave it up to the guides. We have a photographer on board and the guides will try and take videos in the water. So please make sure you remember the swim in your heart, trust us you do not want to miss this experience! Please also feel free to bring your USB’s!


In Tonga the sky is almost always blue and the seas calm, however sometimes that can turn on us and the winds can become high. When booking your tour, we recommend you booking earlier in your trip rather than later. Our tour departures and times are weather dependent and at the call of the Captain.

If you are staying at a Hotel, Resort, Guest house, etc… we recommend asking your accommodation provider information about the weather on the days you are planning on coming out with us, and to let us know who you are staying with when you book, so we can contact you if there are any changes to tour times due to weather conditions. If you have any questions about the weather, feel free to give us a call and our staff will answer any questions about your tour.