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Swimming with Gentle Giants | Whale & Dolphin Watching

Humpback WhaleSwimmer with Humpback WhaleHumpback Whale and calfHumpback Whale BreachingHumpback Whale Calf ascendingSwimmer with Humpback Whale

Swimming with whales, snorkelling coral reefs and caves in the tropical weaters of Tonga for 8 days on the water during beginning of August until Mid October. price for average tour is $3125, inclusive of charter, crew, guide, lunches, airport transfers.

Charter: Includes; boat, crew and guide for 8 days on the water Deposit: AUD $1000 (This is non-refundable) Group: Maximum of 4 people to maximize your time in the water with the whales. Duration: 9 days including 1 leisure day Tour includes: 8 days on the water with lunch, Photography/Research advice and guidance in the water, daily snorkeling on reefs and in caves. Airport transfers in Vava'u. Costs: From $3125 Accommodation: There are several types of accommodation, and prices will vary to fit your budget. Click here for options. Local Flights: Real Tonga Airlines flies from the main Island Tongatapu to Vava’u. Check their website: http://realtonga.to/ for exact times and prices. Note: Cost of local Flights is approximately $320 AUD depending on the exchange rate. Local flights can be organised but are not included in the tour price above."

Months

July • August • September • October

Duration

Multi-day

Vessel types

Small boat (0-50 passengers)

Times and prices

8 days on the water during beginning of August until Mid October. price for average tour is $3165, inclusive of charter, crew, guide, lunches, airport transfers.

About our skippers and naturalist guides

Our skipper has over 10 years experience working with cetaceans and is respectful of all ceatures, most trips have a research scientist/guide onboard that collect fluke ID's and song for conservation purposes. our guides are qualified rescue divers and dive masters and have worked with cetaceans for a number of years. Our guides have spent many years working with the whales in Tonga and many of them have a scientific background.

Facilities

Carbon neutral • Deck with 360?vision • Naturalist guide(s) as well as skipper • Onboard research • Posters / displays / maps • Public participation in research • Reading material available • Restrooms / toilets on board • Scenic backdrop to encounters • Snacks / drinks • Support conservation • Swim / snorkel included • Use a code of conduct

We frequently

See a whale's tail • See leaping dolphins • See leaping whales • Swim with them in the wild • Watch whales and dolphins

Baleen Whales

Humpback Whale

Toothed Whales

Short-finned Pilot Whale • Sperm Whale

Ocean Dolphins

Bottlenose Dolphin • Spinner Dolphin

Other wildlife and points of interest

Birds, Fish, Turtles, Caves, reef sharks, leopard sharks, Manta rays, Blue Marlin and various cetaceans

Address
Neiafu, Vava'u
Town / City
Neiafu
State / County
Vava'u
Zip / Postcode
2000
Country
Tonga
Website
Tel
61402124453
Email
Michaela
Completely unique
Traveled: 2014-09-30, Reviewed: 2014-10-30
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
I have had the opportunity to attend a tour organised by SWTGG earlier this year. It has been one of the most mesmerising and humbling experiences of my life.

I found the tours run by SWTGG were unique in so many different aspects. There are only 4 people plus crew on each tour which potentially doubles up your time spent in the water with the whales. The crew are all experienced Tongan locals which spent much of their time exploring the ocean. Their knowledge of the ocean and the animals allowed us to have varied interactions from watching mothers and calves nuzzle up to each to watching wonderful courtship between adult whales. One of the most beautiful things about the tours was that we got to experience their life style too. The genuine interest in wildlife and love of their job was translated into every aspect of the tour. Another unique aspect of the tours is Scott him self. Being an experienced underwater photographer he had given me crucial tips and provided me with endless opportunities to get the images that I needed. His experience of photographing whales for the past 13 years has given him great understanding of their behaviour and their body language underwater and he uses that knowledge selflessly to guide us through this experience. The tour has by far exceeded any of my expectations of what swimming with the humpback whales would of been like and became so much more.
Fred Dubendorf
The best in Tonga
Traveled: 2014-08-07, Reviewed: 2014-08-19
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
Cut to the chase, when your considering other operators, here's why we are so glad we booked with Scott: 1) A boat that is easy to get in and out of. There was a nice, level area where we could sit and be comfortable until we slipped into the water and an easy, sturdy ladder to get back in. 2) We had long days to maximize our vacation time, on the boat by 7:30 am and sometimes not back until 4:30 if we were seeing lots of whales, swimming and snorkeling. 3) Lots of knowledge, education and excitement of getting safely close to observe and actually "swim" alongside the whales. 4) Having only 4 vacationers on the boat was fun, a personal experience of making friends for a lifetime plus maximum time in the water 5) Scott even had us bring a memory stick so that we came home with underwater photos of us swimming with the whales.
Rosie
Amazing experience
Traveled: 2013-08-31, Reviewed: 2013-09-06
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
Oh WOW... my first ever whale experience and is was mind blowing. Being in the water with those beautiful creatures is a once in a lifetime trip, except I want to go back - and I will!!!

I first met Scott on another huge life adventure and quickly learned that he had an execptional vision and compassion for wildlife both above and below the water. When I heard that he organised these tours to Vava'u in Tonga there was no one else I would have even considered booking with. Scott was accommodating and willing to listen to what we wanted and his crew on board the boats was exceptional in every way. Their knowledge of the humpback whales and other sea creatures was enlightening and I thank them from the bottom of my heary for making our (my hubby and my) experience something that will never be forgotten.

Antarctica is awesome, spending time with mountain gorillas humbling but being in the water with a singing whale has to be the most exhilarating experience I have ever had in my life!
Nicole
Want to go back!
Traveled: 2013-08-29, Reviewed: 2013-08-29
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
My first trip to Vava'u to Swim with the Humpbacks. Loved the tour and the fact that we were in a small group so whenever there was an opportunity, we got to go into the water. The trip far exceeded my expectations. Scott was a great guide and the rest of the local team (skipper and guides) were exceptional. They were totally professional but also personable and accomodating. I really hope that I can get back to Vava'u in the next few years and if I do, it will definitely be with Scott and the team.

The opportunity to swim with the humpack whales, with mothers and calves, listen to the whales singing while also enjoying the beautiful waters of Tonga was fantastic. I would definitely recommend the trip.
Pamela Martin
Life Changing
Traveled: 2011-09-01, Reviewed: 2013-03-27
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
2013 will be my sixth year traveling to Tonga with Scotty as my photography guide and whale guru.
I used to be the type of traveler that couldn’t imagine going back to the same place twice as it’s a big world out there with unlimited experience to be had. Since going to Tonga and meeting Scotty and the whales I can’t imagine not making Tonga part of my yearly travels. I have had the most amazing and varied experiences that words cannot really describe, you just have to go and experience the whales for yourself.

One of my most cherished experiences with Scotty was getting in the water and just floating above a mother and her calf while she was feeding, the calf was inquisitive and swam right around us before heading back down to the safety of it’s mother, to my amazement it continued to do this for the rest of the time we were in the water. The heightened understanding I received that day of how very gentle, beautiful and intelligent these creatures are was a gift I am blessed to have experienced and will never forget.

Scotty is an amazing guide that makes the whole trip incredibly enjoyable, from his local knowledge of the area and Tongan people, his amazing affinity and love for the whales we encountered and his genuine wish to make every trip fun, exciting and safe (for both whales and humans) makes this trip unforgettable.

Thanks Scotty, I’m hooked!
Natascha
Best experience ever!
Traveled: 2010-09-06, Reviewed: 2013-03-02
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
So, I should see whales! My dream- of which I thought might never come true is becoming reality. And I wasn't nervous at all. Jump into the water: I can't see anything. The guide is grabbing my hand and shows me where the whales are.... right underneath ME!

My heartbeat is running and I can't breathe anymore. (Without a snorkel I would've drowned or at least drunk 1000 litres of seawater.)

There is only one thing I can hear and that is my own-heavy- breath. IT IS AMAZING, AWESOME, INCREDIBLE, FANTASTIC, SHOCKING, CHRISTAMS AND BIRTHDAY AND...Much much more. It's a feeling you can't describe!

There were 3 adult Humpback whales plus a calf and they aren't small at all. Back on the boat I had a little shock: I neither could speak (in any language) nor cry; I never felt like that before.

The next week in Vava'u was awesome; I had such a beautiful time. Every day we found whales who wanted to hang out with us. They shared a tiny little part of their lives with us and didn’t have a clue how they made us feel.

One special thing about them was their look: when they look at you, they see you, like you see them. They don't know what we are, but they can definitely see us as we see ourselves in the mirror.
Even more, as if they could see right into your soul. And that is just amazing! I love whales.
Tia
Life Changing
Traveled: 2010-09-19, Reviewed: 2013-02-19
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
I first traveled to Tonga in 2009 for research on my Masters. I worked with several tour operators, including Swimming with Gentle Giants (SWGG), to assess whale swimming in The Kingdom of Tonga.This gave me the rare opportunity to go out with different tour operators in one season. That's why when I returned the next year for fun I booked with SWGG exclusively.

Their focus is on education, conservation, wildlife photography and fun. Their approach to the whales and the Tongan community is that of respect. Your in good hands with Scott and his guides.

The best experience for me came one day as we entered the water with a mom, calf and male escort. Scott lead us along side of the whales and positioned us in such a way that the female and male turned directly toward us. They stopped, noses touching near the surface and sun back lighting them, right in front of us maybe 3 meters away. We hung like that for a good minute, just us looking at them looking at us while the baby played below the adults. There are no words for what one feels except to say that I personally feel there is no better tool for conservation for the whales and the ocean than an experience like this.

Swimming with Gentle Giants will change your life forever. I highly recommend this company, their team and Scott.

Tia - MSc. Wildlife Conservation
http://seaillumination.blogspot.com/
Peter
Best wildlife experience ever!
Traveled: 2010-09-01, Reviewed: 2013-02-12
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
Imagine if there was a tropical island paradise where the people always smile, the ocean was warm and blue, and you could swim peacefully with the largest and gentlest animals to ever inhabit the earth. Just a dream?

Well think again. There is a place....Vava'u Tonga, and Scotty can take you there.

My first day I will never forget. I shared the water with a curious baby humpback, mother and adult male 'escort'. All three were relaxed as I floated above them, while I was so excited I had to keep reminding myself this was really happening. Then the humpback calf surfaced, approaching like a playful puppy, bouncing by and checking me out at close range. So close in fact my camera could only fit half of his oversized baby's body in the shot. I wondered what he would tell his mum as he dove down to be back by her side. Moments later the family slowly rose, peacefully surfacing beside me like huge submarines. They allowed me into their space. They nuzzled and touched lovingly as I floated close by. An unbelievable privilege to be in their presence.

The following days were filled with similar wonderful encounters. One day we floated above a male humpback while he belted out his original whale song. Would it catchy enough to attract a mate? Our chests reverberated like we were at a rock concert as he hit the deep base notes.

Scott and his team know and respect the whales. They ensure encounters are safe and on the whales terms. The whales open their world to him (and you). This really is an experience of a lifetime.

Peter - HR Manager and Divemaster
Libby
Excellent Opportunity
Traveled: 1901-12-13, Reviewed: 2013-02-09
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
Swimming with Gentle Giants are great supporters of my humpback research and go out of their way to assist with fluke IDs and song. Their approach to whales and the marine environment is excellent and they have a commitment to educating their guests. I would highly recommend them for a great opportunity to see whales up close and personal in the wild and learn about their conservation and research. The entire local environment features heavily in educational talks, and time is put aside to observe coral reefs, sea birds and other critters. They are passionate about what they do and share this passion with the guests and locals. I would highly recommend them and I'm very grateful for their great assistance with, and interest in, my research.
Emily
Just Amazing!!
Traveled: 2010-08-12, Reviewed: 2013-02-08
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
It was a good friend who had experienced swimming with the whales with Scotty for a few years in row who shared with me some of her photos, stories and experiences of being with these gentle giants, Green with envy i was determined to join her for her 4th visit. I really had no idea what to expect despite everything I had been told. I will never forget the first time I jumped in the water to be greeted by one of these giant creatures. It is an incredibly humbling experience being in the presence of the whales, they are gigantic without being the least bit intimidating. I will never forget the time we had been swimming with a mother and her calf, simply enjoying their company when they decided they had had enough of us and went away to continue on their journey, not knowing which way they went or how far they had gone we simply bobbed around in the water waiting for the boat to come and collect us when literally 20 metres in front of us these 2 enormous creatures launched themselves out of the water breaching across each other. Being so close I felt the power through the water as I was left stunned at what had just happened right in front of my very eyes. Every single day on the water brought new experiences and provided us with many more stories to tell over a glass of wine in one of the islands many wonderful restaurants and bars. No two days were the same with us exploring different parts of the island with our guide Scotty who offered endless information on the Whales, the locals, the way of life as well as providing us with some sound photography tips as well. Swimming with the whales is a truely addictive experience one in which I will embark on again as soon as possible.
belinda bock
Let's go again!
Traveled: 2011-08-09, Reviewed: 2012-11-01
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
Last year I booked a tour with Scott Portelli and his team to go Swimming with the Gentle Giants in Vava'u in Tonga. Scott was so helpful and thoughtful in providing advice on flights, accomodation, taxi's, tours, underwater camera tips and guidance. He was friendly and professional and was able to personalise my tour with friends. We enjoyed a small group setting so we got to maximise our time in the water with the whales and have so much fun and adventure. It was awe inspiring...... Swimming with the whales..... Incredible. I had a wonderful tour and I hope you do too.
Liz
Whale of a time!
Traveled: 2010-07-25, Reviewed: 2012-10-03
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
I was lucky enough to join a Swimming with Gentle Giants tour in the Azores, Portugal a couple of years ago.

My main interest was being able to see some sperm whales and see some sperm whales I did, we had some awesome encounters that I will never forget. Our guide ensured that each of us on the tour had our share of amazing encounters and ensured that we got the most out of our time on the water. The crew were very mindful of our needs and we were looked after.

On land, the tour was so well organised that all I literally had to do was show up! Absolutely everything was taken care of, our accommodation was tidy and clean and the food was great.

I highly recommend Swimming with Gentle Giants tours and am looking forward to the next opportunity that I have to go on another one!
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2013 Responsible Whale Watch Partnership:Click here to read more about the partnership