Snorkel with Humpback WhalesVava’u Islands, Tonga
Nothing dwarfs your perception of humankind quite like a brush with whales, and we’re not talking about seeing a dorsal fin break the surface of the water from a boat. An underwater encounter with humpbacks – they grow as large as petrol tankers and will be just metres away from you warbling their hypnotic song – will have you so mesmerised you’ll almost forget to breathe. With its clear, warm water and Polynesian charms, Tonga is one of the best places in the world to swim with them, and August – during the dry season and at the height of their migration – is the best time to visit.
The waters off the spectacular Vava’u Islands are a nursery for the underwater mammals and a place where you can spend more daylight hours in the water than out, slipping into the blue depths to eyeball gargantuan humpbacks and frolic with their playful calves.
The easiest way to reach the Vava’u Islands is with a direct, twice-weekly flight from Fiji’s Nadi Airport with Fiji Airways.
Seven-night whale safaris with WhaleSwim Adventures start at about US$2,460 per person, including airport transfers, boat transport, accommodation and most meals. WhaleSwim also has expeditions with wildlife photographer Darren Jew.
Long days in the water will test your swimming stamina.