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Swim up close and personal with humpback whales!

This snorkeling trip will be one of the best in-water experiences of your life.

Who Are We?

HumpBackSwims.com is run through Scuba Diver Life Expeditions, a tour agency based out of San Francisco, California. 
After traveling the world for five years to create stories, videos and dazzling photo galleries for her website, ScubaDiverLife.com, Nadia Aly, wanted to share the very best of her scuba diving and ocean adventures around the world with other divers and snorkelers. Her all-time favorite expedition is the one profiled here.

This website is dedicated to educating potential and current clients about the humpback whale experience. We focus on small groups; we hire experienced skippers and guides; we offer comfortable accommodations during your trip. 

There are lots of options when it comes to swimming with humpbacks in Tonga, but not all of them are great options. You've likely traveled a long way to swim with these beautiful creatures, and we feel that we've created the island's best experience — for both the snorkelers and the whales. Come join us and meet the humpback whales of Tonga for yourself. 

Key benefits

  • Small groups
  • We don’t bring people back at 2 p.m. (this is the policy of up to 90 percent of other operators)
  • Underwater photographer to help you improve your shots/videos and take photos of you
  • Eight water days with the whales (optimizes your shot at amazing encounters)

You Must Watch Our Video!

Where is Vava'u, Tonga?


  • Accommodation
  • Hot breakfast
  • Boat, skipper, accredited whale guide, lunches on water days
  • Return transport from VAV to accommodations
  • Photo & video advice 
  • Smiles & fun!
  • Lunches on break or rest days 
  • All dinners
  • Flights
  • Trip insurance
  • DAN insurance
  • Drinks 

Well, that's up to you! Fins, mask, wetsuit and snorkel are included in the tour, but let's be honest with one another — it's usually better to bring your own. We spend so much time on the water, nobody wants to deal with fins that sort of fit, a mask that fogs all the time, or a wetsuit that doesn't keep you warm. So we strongly advise bringing your own gear.

  • Wetsuit or swimsuit (We wear a 3mm full wetsuit in the water)
  • Mask
  • Snorkel
  • Fins
  • Boat jacket
  • Camera!

Let's not forget about cameras to capture this amazing experience to share with your friends and family!


This is not a scuba-diving trip, so you don't need a diving certification. You should be comfortable in the water and know how to swim, and feel comfortable with a snorkel. There is no need for freediving experience as most of the whale encounters happen at the surface.

If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to us on our contact page.


All tours provide a photo expert who can advise all clients on photo and video techniques, as well as post-production processes. 


Group Size

Group size is key to having a great time with the whales in Tonga. Day boats take anywhere from eight to 12 people out on a boat — our boats have a maximum of six guests.

Each group takes turns in the water; the group on the boat takes a little time to relax or photograph surface activity, which can be just as thrilling!

The whale-swimming laws in Tonga allow for four guests in the water, plus the accredited guide, which equals five people in the water at a time.


It's a Craft

Swimming with the whales is a craft. Knowledge and respect for these animals go hand-in-hand to create a good encounter. Being able to read the whales, how comfortable they are and giving them space when they need it — we implement many tactics borne of experience to help ensure long, safe and fun encounters for our guests and the whales.

All our guides and skippers are local to Vava'u and are great watermen, with years of on- and in-water experience in local waters. They're a great team with high respect and regard within the community and industry.

Bottom line...they know what they're doing, and they are good at it!


There is a lot of respect for the whales and for these in-water encounters with them in Tonga. Another boat will never come and jump in on your whale encounter. If a boat is with a whale, it's their whale until they sign off to another boat, if there is one in the area.

These encounters are quite initmate and special. We work as a group when in the water, and we stay close to one another, making sure we don't spook the whales or cause them any stress. You will see on your tour that every encounter is different, and some whales will be much more interactive than others. 


Weather and Temperature

The weather can be flat calm or you can have rough seas and everything in between — it's the ocean, after all. We go out to sea as long as our captain says it's safe.

You should expect to be out on the boat all day; we don't come back to dock unless there is an emergency on board. The water temp is roughly 77 F (25 C), and you will want to bring a boat jacket for wind protection. 

The whales visit Tonga outside of cyclone season, so there is no concern regarding cyclones.


It is illegal to operate a business on Sundays in Tonga. There are a few restaurants and resorts open for meals, however you will see that most things are closed, even the airport. These can be great days to visit the local church and see how the locals spend their day. Usually we head over to a resort and relax for the day on the beach.

Group Leader: Nadia Aly

Nadia travels around the world, writing stories and shooting video and still images for scuba divers and ocean enthusiasts. She leads over 20 expeditions a year, showcasing some of her best experiences with those who are keen. Nadia is also an accomplished underwater photographer.