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Humpback Encounter - 8 Day

Background

When Captain Cook visited Tonga in the 1770's, he was so well received that he dubbed them "the Friendly Islands." Little did he know that there was a secret assassination plot against him too!

Highlights

  • Swim with Humpback whales and their young
  • Understand these beautiful creatures and how they fit into the eco-system
  • Wind down on one of the South Pacific's most beautiful islands
  • Experience true Tonga hospitality
  • Kayak, SUP, SCUBA and more if you like.

Overview

Situated in the South Pacific about two-thirds of the way between Hawaii and New Zealand, Tonga consists of 169 coral atolls and volcanic islands, clustered in three main groups - Tongatapu to the south, Ha'apai in the centre and Vava'u to the north. Tongatapu is the nation's administration centre and Vava'u is the tourist centre, Ha;apai is the cultural center of Tonga and most isolated of the country.

It is in Ha'apai that we will encounter the amazing and beautiful Humpback whale. The Humpback are in Tonga to mate and calve during the southern hemisphere's winter. Most people travel to Vava'u to see the Humpback, but we feel this has become over touristed and we have based our operations out of a small island in the Ha'apai group.

Each day will be spent out on our sepcially designed whale watching boat, observing their movemnet and ultimately swimming with them. This will be an amazing experience, joining a pod of Humpback whales with their calves, swimming with these amazing creatures which weigh up to 36 tonne and grow to 16 meteres in length. On other days we will explore the islands, swimming in pristine waters over untoiuched coral and even joining the locals at church on the Sunday. This is totall immersion into a place few know of or understand.

This expedition is open to only 8 people.

Itinerary

Wednesday Day 1 : Arrive in Tonga and transfer to domestic flight to Ha'apai, settle in and discover the area around the hotel.

Thursday Day 2 : Whale watching

Friday Day 3 : Whale watching or SCUBA Diving (non PADI and PADI Certified)

Saturday Day 4 : Snorkel, kayak, explore or relax on the this Pacific island paradise

Sunday Day 5 : This is the Sabbath in Tonga and very little happens. Today we will dress up and head off to church to witness a Tongan church service and then feast on local cuisine in the afternoon

Monday Day 6 : Whale watching

Tuesday Day 7 : Explore the island by bike and swim and snorkel over untouched and pristine coral reefs

Wednesday Day 8 : We will fly all the way back home today after our great adventure.

Accommodation

Our accommodation will be in Pacific style fales with complete beachfront views and access. Step off the covered terrace onto the sandy beach or meander through lush tropical gardens to the main house, which contains the 24 hour reception, restaurant and bar.

Double Fales have a king size bed or 2 singles

Family Fales have two rooms and can be made up as a king bed and 2 singles, 2 king beds or 4 singles, a baby crib or pullout bed can also added 

Each fale is equipped with electric lights and power points to charge personal electronic devices. Voltage is 220V and outlets are the same as Australia and New Zealand (plug adaptors are available). 

Bathrooms are common and gender specific in a separate building 30m away in average from Fales.

What is the type of food served?

Type of food is : international. Some special Tonga Food days (raw fish, roasted pig, ...) are organized at the resort.

The restaurant opens daily at 7:30am a buffet continental breakfast is available until 9:30am and menu items (including cooked breakfast) are available all day. They have an all day menu, which consists of pizzas, burgers, wraps, salads, sandwiches, fresh baked pies and pastries. The kitchen never closes. For evening meals they offer additional choices, which they post daily options on the menu board, and guests have to choose in the morning.

 

Mains range from fresh tuna grilled with sesame seeds to poached chicken in wine sauce or fresh loabster fettucine, resorts cooks with seasonal products, and menu varies daily. Deserts can range from tropical fruit salad to creamy browny, cheese cakes, ice creams.  They cook their own bread daily, use local seasonal fruits (pawpaw, mangos, custard apple, pineapple, coconuts, watermelon, etc) and the local tongan produces (fish, taro, kumala, potatoes, lettuces, tomatoes, etc.). Fresh meat sometimes comes from local farms but mainly from NZ, as well as most wines.

 

If you have any dietary needs or requests they are welcome to ask and they will do their best to accommodate. They regularly cater to gluten free, vegetarian and vegan guests.

 

What about the boat used for Whale Watching?

Mohe Vai (that's the boat) is a purpose built 28ft fiberglass dive vessel with easy access in and out of the water, powered by eco-friendly and very quiet Yamaha 4-stroke engines. Pulú Vai (another boat) is identical to her sister with large cushion covered benches and plenty of shade, the perfect whale watch boat with speed and comfort in mind. Both boats are very simple but well equipped with comfort and safety in sight: VHF radio, depth sounder, gps system, life vests and 1st aid kits. Crew includes a Skipper and a WWS guide or diving Guide.

 

What if I don't want to whale watch and I want to dive?

A- If there is a diving boat going with spare room, you can go with no extra charge (cost transfers from Whale Watching activity to Diving activity)

B- If there is no diving boat trip planned that day (i.e no other customers) then it will be charged to you (price structure described below). 

 

If the decision to not Whale Watch and Swim is made by the resort, then the transfer to the other activity is free (i.e no extra cost) or there is a refund.

The cost of diving is NZ$145 (boat, tanks, meal, ...). The cost of gear rental is NZ$45 (suits, BCD, belts, d computer, ...)

 

Total for a customer that comes without any gear NZ$190

 

Currency and what do you need in way of spending money

The currency in the Kingdom of Tonga is the Pa'anga which international code is 'TOP'

The currency exchange rate is 1 TOP = 0.639AUD

 

The resorts 'speaks' in NZ$ as it is a common currency in the region.

 

We think you will need very little extra money only if you have alcohol beverage and extra snacks, buy artifacts or do extra activities. You can bring Australian $, or pay any extra by usual Visa and Mastercard or by bank transfer using internet at the resort.

We recommend to bring about AUD200/person (but this depends on everyone)

 

Visas

For Tonga, there are NO visa requirements for most western nations (including australia) for tourists and up to one month (30days). Chinese nationals and most african nations need a visa even as tourists.

 

Sea Sickness?

It is important that we are aware that sea sickness can be a factor. If you suffer from sea sickness we recommend sea sickness tablets AND bring along a few packets of ginger biscuits (these really work)

 

A Day Whale Watching

A typical day whale watching will be as follows:

 

0830 Group will get together after breakfast and head off.

 

0900 - 1130 we will search for whales. We should have great views of the whales. Humpbacks are very active at the surface of the water and can be seen breaching, pectoral and tail fin slapping and even spy hopping (where the whale keeps its' head out of the water to observe the world).

 

1130-1300 Lunch will be had either on the boat or on a remote island. This will depend on the activity of the whale.

 

1300-1500 More whale watching and hopefully swimming with the whales and then return to the Resort.

 

Flights to and from Tonga

Your trip technically starts on the Thursday with a flight to Tonga. However your flight from Fua'amotu International Airport to Ha'apai will be on Friday morning. 

Your flight back to Australia will be on the Friday.

Inclusions

  • Domestic flights with Real Tonga (TBU-HPA-TBU)
  • Airport transfers to and from domestic / international terminals
  • Airport transfers to and from resort
  • Food and meals for all period at the resort incl 'rest days' and on boat meals
  • Snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel, suits, etc)
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • 3 days whale watching and swimming (optional SCUBA)
  • Wi-Fi, bikes, kayaks
  • Visa (are free for Australia and NZ)

Exclusions

  • International flight to & from destination (TBU) or arrangements prior to flight to HPA
  • Personal expenses (soft drink, alcoholic beverages, entertainment, personal expenses, etc)
  • Tips to local guides
  • Personal equipment
  • Non forecasted activities (such as scuba diving, kite surfing, etc.)
  • On land meals if guest does not participate for personal reason in WWS activity as forecasted

 

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