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Read about our recent trip to Tonga!

September 2, 2019

We've returned from our August 2019 trip to the Ha'apai Islands to swim with humpback whales!

 

We had a fantastic group which consisted of the Mc Donald family from London, Jane and Bernard from Cardiff and the lovely Elaine from Scotland.

 

Once everyone arrived in Ha'apai they had the day to settle into their bungalows and surroundings at their leisure. 

 

That night the resort put on a fantastic feast of all the local delights for us to try. Followed by a dancing show performed by the local school. The beautiful Polynesian traditional dances are fascinating to watch and each dance tells a special historic story.

 

They are all covered in oil so throughout the dance you can stick money on them, which is a sign to show respect and appreciation of the dance.

All the group got involved in the dancing and we had a really enjoyable evening.

 

 

 BOAT DAY 1

 

Our first day on the boat and within 20 minutes we were swimming with 4 humpbacks next to us! 2 adults, 1 juvenile and 1 calf. Most of the swims this day were shallow enough so you could see the reef below. We had countless swims - a fantastic first day for all the group.

 

 

 

 

Sundays are a day off for the Tongans so it was a day of leisure for the group.

Those who chose to, which was everyone! joined me on a snorkel tour of the channel. We saw countless species of fish and beautiful fans of coral. Jane and Bernard spotted the Leopard sharks! You can also borrow the bikes from the resort to take a cycle through the local villages and listen to the singing from all the local churches. You have to get quite good at cycling whilst giving a high five to the local kids as you whizz past!

 

 

 

 

Day 2 on the boat and we enjoyed swims with mainly mother and calves. One of the calves was very small - possibly only a few weeks old! Our lovely boat guide Aneesh had made another batch of yummy cakes for us and a wonderful lunch.

 

 

 

 

Day 3 on the boat we encountered a juvenile male who gave us some beautiful belly rolls. After that we swam with mostly mothers and calves. One swim was especially wonderful, the mother was resting head down and tail up whilst the calf would come up to us and then go back down to its mother, it repeated this so many times and each time came closer to us. Every 10 minutes or so the mother would resurface, check her calf is ok then go back down until play time was up and they moved on. She was probably the largest female humpback whale I've ever seen.

Lots more swims on shallow waters where we could see a sandy bottom and reef.

 

We sat having lunch whilst watching the whales swim alongside us...heaven!

 

 

 

Day 4 was Day 4! Ah DAY 4!!!! I can't really find the words to explain how fantastic it was.

One very special mother and calf took a liking to us. It's very common for the calfs to interact but not to so much the adults...well this mother humpback whale proved me so very wrong.

They both wanted to interact with us all and wow what an experience that was! 

The calf was so cheeky and would swim between us all then the mum would come up too and carefully glide their way through and around us. They are so aware of how close they are to us. They could of easily touched us with their pec fins if they wanted. They were swimming with us , completely their choice...we had no choice! 

 

We rounded off the afternoon anchoring the boat for lunch in a beautiful bay called mushroom rock.

 

Another evening of sharing our encounters over dinner this evening!

 

 

 

 

Last Day but wow what a day! The morning began with a breaching show, pec slaps and peduncle slaps. But then guess who found us again! Yes the same mother and calf! We knew we were in for another incredible swim. Once we were in the water the calf came straight towards us and swam under and around us all, mum comes up and does the same. They move so gracefully and slowly around us, never coming close enough to touch us. Most of the time we are swimming backwards! The last day could not of been any better. Everyone full of smiles, tears of emotion and happiness. 

We anchor up near a little island for our lunch and soak up all our unbelievable encounters.

 

Last night sharing photos and stories plus a chocolate birthday cake for Elaine!

 

 

 

 Swimming with whales is for many, a far fetched dream. The thought of organising such a trip can seem overwhelming, especially when you start looking into the travelling logistics to actually get to the Ha'apai Islands from the UK!

 

That's where Ocean Whale Swims can help :)

 

I organise everything, all you have to do is book your international flights and let me take care of the rest. Get in touch to find out about our upcoming trips!

 

Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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