Go Whale Watching in Tonga, “The True South Pacific”
In-the-know Pacific travellers aren’t the only ones to return to Tonga’s shores on a regular basis. After a long journey north from the icy krill-laden depths of Antarctica, southern humpback whales take shelter in the tropical reef-protected waters of Tonga to give birth to their young. The arrival of the whales from June to November completes a remarkable cycle, as the new calves return to where they were conceived 11 months earlier. Seen from a boat, the 40-ton whales combine grace and power, breaching out of the cobalt waters or effortlessly submerging with a final, languid flick of their tail flukes. Immersed with them in their own environment, their immense size is magnified, even a sleek two-metre calf tucked carefully beside its much larger mother. The shallow and warm waters of the Kingdom of Tonga provide the perfect viewing platform, with excellent visibility in the crystalline reefs surrounding the islands of the Vava’u group. The occasional ‘singing’ soundtrack of courting male humpbacks – a natural symphony of low notes that can carry 100km through the open ocean – segues with the excited breathing of snorkelling visitors, amazed they’re floating gently above a nursing humpback and her calf. By November, the young humpbacks’ development is well-advanced, and the magnificent creatures depart the nurturing sanctuary of Tonga’s protected reefs for the southern migration back to Antarctica. For visitors lucky enough to swim alongside the giant cetaceans, it’s the kind of indelible experience that makes them immediate advocates of the South Pacific’s only Kingdom.
From June to November humpback whales calve and mate in the calm waters. It is not only the sight that is fascinating: the male whales sing. Whale songs vary according to location: each year the song at each location changes.
Tonga is one of only 2 locations in the world where it is legal to swim with whales or snorkel with whales. This amazing experience can be managed so it is safe for both humans and animals.