Humpback Whales in Tonga

Imagine coming face to face with a 5 meter (15 ft) long, curious, couple weeks old humpback whale calf. As you lock eyes the calf rolls and begins to play in the waves like a giant playful puppy finding a new friend. Picture jumping in the water and seeing 10 massive male humpbacks cruising on all sides of you as they compete in a heat run for a new mate. Watch as the giants launch themselves from the surface and crash back into the sea with a thunderous splash. This is Vava’u. This is the kingdom of giants.

The 170+ lush Polynesian islands of Tonga dotting the Pacific Ocean, lined by white sand beaches topped with tropical rainforests are what we envision when dreaming of an exotic paradise. But the island of Vava’u holds an even more incredible beauty beneath its warm, clear blue waters. It is without a doubt the best place on earth to experience swimming with these remarkable ocean titans.

Join Dive Ninjas October 4-14, 2023 for a very special expedition to swim with the humpback whales of Vava’u, Tonga. This is a limited offer trip with only 8 spaces available SOLD OUT in the best part of the whale season when the young calves are most playful. Scroll down for more details on the trip, then register online now to secure your space. Feel free to contact our reservations ninjas at [email protected] or at +1-973-619-9976 with any questions.

Trip Quick Facts

  • Swim with Humpback Whales!
  • 8 days of whales & exploring Vava’u
  • 10 nights Accommodation
  • Airport Transfers Included
  • Airport: Vava’u, Tonga (VAV)

The Expedition

Our expedition will begin with a free pickup and transfer from Vava’u Airport to our private residence. We’ll get settled in and have our first presentation by Jay Clue, introducing the special humpback whale population that visit these beautiful waters (did you know that they are the most unique humpback population in the world?) as well as what we can expect for the upcoming days. The next day, we’ll wake up early for a hot breakfast. Our boat will pick us up at the dock across the street to head out searching for awesome encounters with the whales. We’ll be back on land in the mid afternoon, with enough time to relax on our private deck or go for a swim before heading out for dinner in town. This will be repeated for 8 days of the trip, with a total of 8 full days (about 6+ hours each day) on the water searching for whales and exploring Vava’u, so you can get the most opportunities for jaw dropping encounters with our new underwater friends.

When time permits on the ocean, we’ll stop by some of Vava’u’s natural beauties like swallows cave, uninhabited islands, beaches, snorkeling reefs, and more to take in the incredible landscapes of this gorgeous island nation.  Throughout the week Dive Ninjas very own, Jay Clue, will be offering talks on whale biology, evolution, conservation, as well as how you can get involved with whale identification and protecting these remarkable creatures! He’ll also be on hand for photography tips and workshops all week.  For this trip we will be collecting data for humpback whale identification with Happy Whale. This extremely important data is used to help better understand the migrations and population of these beautiful creatures and our guests are all welcome to help.


For this awesome trip we will be staying at the Flying Annie Moa. Flying Annie is a cute bed and breakfast, located just on the edge of town. Within 5 minutes of walking, you will find yourself at the restaurants and shops of downtown. The waterfront is just across the street with a dockside restaurant and where our private boat will pick us up every morning. For our trip, we have a small house in front with two bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. As well as have 2 rooms inside the main building with ensuite bathrooms. Air conditioning is available in all of these suites, however, it is winter in Tonga, and most people do not need air conditioning. The main house has a big common area with a full kitchen, living room and dining table. Upstairs there is a large deck with nice views for unwinding and taking in the Tongan breeze after a great day on the ocean. Wifi is available throughout the building. We’ll have a fresh hot breakfast every morning at the house before heading out to explore Vava’u and search for whales. In our opinion, Flying Annie has the best location out of all the accommodations in VaVa’u as it’s perfectly located right near the boat and within walking distance to lots of great restaurants and shops. 

What’s The Cost?

The trip is 10 nights/11 days long with a maximum capacity of 8 guests.  The expedition package price is $4700 USD. All prices are per person and on a shared double occupancy basis (2 guests per room). If you are traveling solo, no problem! We will match you with another solo ninja guest of the same gender. Or if you prefer your own private room a single supplement upgrade is also available for an additional fee. 

What’s Included

The trip price includes 8 full days of in-water activities including searching for & swimming with humpback whales as well as exploring some other local sites, 10 nights accommodation at our private beachfront lodge, hot breakfast, free roundtrip airport transfers from VAV airport to the accommodation, as well as lunch, snacks, & soft drinks onboard the boat, whale talks & presentations during the week, humpback whale ID workshop, photography tips & workshop (on request), private boat for our group, accredited Tongan whale guide, commemorative Dive Ninja Tongan Expedition Team t-shirt, and all marine park fees. 

snorkeling with wild dolphins in the Bahamas
Freediving at Swallows Cave, Vava’u Tonga with humpback whales. Photo by Jay Clue, for Dive Ninja Expeditions

What’s Not Included

The price does not include flights, rental equipment, crew tips/gratuity (at your discretion), any meals or drinks not mentioned above.

Anything Else?

You do not need to be scuba certified or freediving certified to join this expedition, but you do need to know how to swim and be comfortable swimming in the open ocean where you can not see the bottom. Please contact our team if you have any questions. 

Supporting Whale Conservation

For this expedition we will be collecting identification data on the humpback whales to submit to the Happy Whale global database to help support the ongoing research of humpback whale population and migration patterns around the world. Dive Ninjas collects and submits data during whale season through out Los Cabos & Baja California Sur, Mexico and will now utilize the tools we have developed to help gather data while in Tonga. Our tour leader, Jay Clue, will be hosting a workshop at the beginning of the trip to teach our guests how they can join in to help with the research and identification of the whales. Data like this is extremely important with understanding and protecting our ocean cousins. 

Flights & Pre-Trip Activities Information

You will need to fly into Vava’u International Airport (airport code VAV). Our recommended route is to fly via Nadi, Fiji then onto Vava’u.  For US guests Fiji Airlines offer daily flights from LAX to Nadi as well as flights to Vava’u on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Another option is to fly via Auckland with Air New Zealand. You can also fly via Tongatapu, which is located on ‘mainland’ Tonga, but will need to book your domestic flights via Real Tonga* airlines website as they are not available on any other website. We do not recommend arriving in Vava’u earlier than the trip start date as it is very hard to find accommodation. Instead we recommend arriving in Fiji a day (or more) early then flying on to Vava’u. This gives you some padding in case of any hiccups. Once you arrive in Vava’u a driver will be there with a sign to pick you up and take you to the accommodation. As flights into Vava’u are quite limited we will most likely all be on the same flight in. Due to this we recommend not waiting until the last minute to purchase your flights. 

If you have a few days to check out Fiji there is some incredible land based diving. Beqa Lagoon has one of the worlds most famous shark dives and there are numerous dive resorts dotting the coasts Fiji.

* Ninja Tip: Real Tonga has a reputation for changing their flight times the day before the flight, so we recommend leaving some extra wiggle room if you will be flying with them. They ask for your international flight info when booking and will do everything to make sure you don’t miss the flight, but I’d still recommend leaving a little extra wiggle room. Besides, Tongatapu is beautiful and easy to explore for a day if you end with extra time.

snorkeling & freediving with wild dolphins in the Bahamas

Swimming With Whales – Tonga Overview
By: Nadia Aly

Expedition Quick Facts:

Location: Vava’u, Tonga
Arrive: Vava’u International Airport
Depart: Vava’u International Airport 8-11am
Duration: 11 Days, 10 nights
Activity Days: 8 days
Airport: Vava’u International Airport (VAV)
Trip Cost: $4700.00 USD
Min Deposit to Reserve: 30%

Humpback Whales of Tonga
By: Scuba Diver Life