The Best Time To Swim With Humpback Whales

The best time to swim with humpback whales in Tonga is any time during whale season — otherwise, the whales are simply just not there!

The whales come from Antarctica toward the end of June; we start swimming with them in July all the way through to the first week of November.

Instead of thinking about “best time” in terms of what month to come, it is really best to think about your water time. The more days you put in on the water, the higher your chances of having memorable, meaningful encounters. We tend to see and swim with the whales almost every day, but we aim for real, quality encounters, not just fleeting glimpses of the whales. Our guides and boat captains know when and where to put you in the water to make sure this happens.

A quality encounter to us, is one of close proximity that last at least 10 minutes. Generally on a 5 swim day tour, we are aiming for 1 or 2 quality swims, on a 8 swim day trip, we are aiming for 3 or 4. It is nature, and sometimes groups get more quality swims that that. Every whale and every encounter is completely different, at the end of the day, it is really up to the whales.

There is really no “best” time to come during the season. Although some say otherwise, you’ve got a high probability of swimming with whales any time from July through to early November, no matter when you come. And since all the females don’t give birth at the same time, we can see new calves throughout the season we’ve even seen brand-new babies at the end of October.

There is something very special about the month of October to us, and it is our favorite month to swim. It seems that the calves become much more interactive and confident, allowing us to have fantastic swims with them, mom seems a bit more chill as well, adding to our encounters.

If you want to have interactive experiences with moms and calves, October is your best choice. If you want more diverse interactions, not with just moms and calves, July through September are months you should look at, you will still see moms and calves, but you may also see heat runs, mating behavior between two adults or more, juveniles etc.