It was our second time swimming with these magnificent creatures off Moorea and once again had an... read more
It was our second time swimming with these magnificent creatures off Moorea and once again had an... read more
Words really won't do this justice! I'm not really sure how to describe the feeling of sharing the... read more
Everyone on our boat had remarkable whale encounters all 7 days on the water with Whale Swim Adventures tour - Aug 1-9, 2018. We only had 6 people on our tour. I had so many whale encounters, I can’t recall each one, but there were 2 to 8 whale encounters every day. We had a few days of rough water with up to 5’ swells, so be prepared to work to pull yourself up into the boat.
We watched and heard the calls of bull suitors calling out to females; twice for 10-20 minutes. Anxiously perched on the port side edge of the boat, we listened for Capt. Noah “Starboard!” he shouted so we scrambled to the other side of the boat, wearing our flippers. Noah worked diligently to put us in the best possible position to see whales in a heat run. “Go, go, go!” Noah yelled - down we plunged 5 feet. Within seconds of clearing my snorkel and mask I gazed down and to each side - a majestic female, followed by as many as 6 bulls weighing in at 40 tons - fantastically beautiful! A bull rose to surface, right beneath me. He was moving too fast, I couldn’t possibly get out of the way. I thought “I’m at your mercy,” pulled my knees to my chest, lifting my flippers – I literally could have stood, surfing on his back. Amazingly, the whale avoided me, as...Everyone on our boat had remarkable whale encounters all 7 days on the water with Whale Swim Adventures tour - Aug 1-9, 2018. We only had 6 people on our tour. I had so many whale encounters, I can’t recall each one, but there were 2 to 8 whale encounters every day. We had a few days of rough water with up to 5’ swells, so be prepared to work to pull yourself up into the boat.
We watched and heard the calls of bull suitors calling out to females; twice for 10-20 minutes. Anxiously perched on the port side edge of the boat, we listened for Capt. Noah “Starboard!” he shouted so we scrambled to the other side of the boat, wearing our flippers. Noah worked diligently to put us in the best possible position to see whales in a heat run. “Go, go, go!” Noah yelled - down we plunged 5 feet. Within seconds of clearing my snorkel and mask I gazed down and to each side - a majestic female, followed by as many as 6 bulls weighing in at 40 tons - fantastically beautiful! A bull rose to surface, right beneath me. He was moving too fast, I couldn’t possibly get out of the way. I thought “I’m at your mercy,” pulled my knees to my chest, lifting my flippers – I literally could have stood, surfing on his back. Amazingly, the whale avoided me, as his enormous tail passed by. Adrenaline rush! Two times whales surfaced very close to my 17 yr. daughter and her friend; they were THRILLED!
Quiet, gentle floats near nursing mothers and calves contrasted the heat runs. About every two minutes, the calves float up to the surface to breathe. We have video (below and above the surface) of the babies in playful breaches and twirling pirouettes. A curious baby came very close to inspect us, then swam back down to nuzzle his mother. She gathered him close, embracing him with her pectoral fin. I had three mom/baby encounters similar to this that all lasted 10 minutes or more. The largest female we saw seemed happy to have us “babysit” her calf while she snoozed 10 feet below. Making eye contact where you know that she sees you and is allowing you to be near, triggers a sense of peace, gratitude and wonder about these gentle giants.
The WhaleSwim Adventures staff exceeded our expectations in all areas from booking through airport drop-off at the end of 9 incredible days. When Fiji airways changed our flight schedule by 2 days, Annah arranged more hotel nights. Claire is so much fun, singing, laughing & telling stories as she chauffeured us around and guided us to the whales. Henney has a calm, centered presence that made me feel very safe when he was in the water leading us to the whales. Capt. Noah’s boat, The Pressi, has a bridge 1 story up, allowing the very best advantage to spot whales. Noah spotted so many whales and talked with other captains via radio to learn and share the locations of good whale encounters. I hope to book another tour with WhaleSwim Adventures in the next two years.More
Not a great experience with this company - in fact very poor - with the logistics of the trip and the subsequent attitude of the company management I would not recommend them to anyone - already we are advising our friends and contacts to go to another operator on the island who is more professional, lower cost and more effective. We paid 'for the best' with WhaleSwim Adventures and got nothing like it. Go through their web site line by line and almost nothing is correct.
We paid for a premium experience and did not get it. Too many people crammed into a small boat with two 115 hp engines, one of which broke down when returning to port one afternoon, without fast and easy access to / egress from the water (a necessity when chasing whales). The boat we should have had was under repair (we had been told someone put sugar in the fuel) and during the 5 days there we had three different skippers - one, a policeman - pulled out of bed minutes before we were due to depart for the day.
The boat was far too small for open water, especially with so many people on board, and its engines weren't big enough to get us around effectively (we heard the reports of a large heat run come in over the radio but were unable to get to it) - we spend much time transiting from one location to another - the boat was more suited as a water taxi than as an open water whale experience vessel.
Having spent the previous week with another operator on the island doing the same thing, I am in a position to do a like for like comparison. At a much lower rate, with a significantly bigger boat (closed cabin at front, wide open area to get ready for swims and to relax between sightings (using two 250 HP engines), less people on board, with easy access to the water all around, two egress points, with the same skipper and guide for the 5 days, with hot showers at the accommodation and with island transport included, there is no comparison between the two.
The company (WhaleSwim.com / Whaleswim Adventures) has been given several weeks now to resolve this issue and has chosen to ignore it, on the basis that 'you saw whales'. Yes we did, and yes we could have with a much lower cost operation, and yes we could have reached some of the larger heat runs - but when a company advertises as the best, charges the premium for such, and then totally fails to deliver the overall experience, it is not acceptable - and then to simply dismiss the complaints.
Our guide Clair, did the best she could under the circumstances and there is no criticism of her - she remained cheerful and enthusiastic throughout - but was not in a position to do anything. The others we were in touch with simply passed the buck and have done nothing since.
We are sorry to hear of your disappointment with the boat provided for your tour. We are running these adventure tours in a remote location and in an undeveloped nation with very limited access to many of the resources that first world tourism ventures would take for granted. There were mechanical issues with the boat that we normally use and the boat operator was doing his best to get this fixed as quickly as possible – parts had to be flown in from overseas and that was being expedited. The boat that was provided however is fully licensed for whale swims by the local authorities to carry the number of guests and crew that we had on board and it is a known and trusted whale-watch vessel. This boat charter cost us the equivalent of the boat that we usually use and it got you out to some truly excellent whale encounters.
We wish to reiterate however that the whale-swimming package that we offer is not just about a boat. Our tour focus is on doing our very best to provide opportunities for encounters with whales and we know that your group had great whale experiences. The skippers and tour leader and other guests on your tour told us of their amazing time with the humpbacks here.
The package that we provided includes 5 days on the water with the most experienced skippers in Tonga, a local Tongan guide, and as an extra not offered on other boats, a very experienced ex-pat guide and boat manager. The package also includes comfortable accommodation and quality meals. Resort staff and your tour leader have advised us that you reported that you were enjoying the food. We are aware the previous operator package that you were with had the same accommodation venue but did not include meals in the cost. This makes a significant difference to the price.
It is correct that the skipper we usually have was sick. We were able to get another qualified and experienced skipper in at short notice and our skipper returned to the tour as soon as he could.
We are sorry that you were unhappy with the boat aspect of your tour and did our best to explain all this when you bought it up on the second to last day of your tour, with the implication being that you wanted some refund on your tour cost or ‘we would see what happens’. Your review has now appeared and it is not good. We believe however that we delivered excellent whale-swim experiences, good food and clean, comfortable and friendly accommodation as stated in our tour description.
We have had many very happy guests this season and are truly sorry that you are not amongst them.
Wishing you all the best on your further journeying.
We spent 4 days on the Ashlee G. Villi the skipper and William the whale guide were great. They ensured everyone was safe in and out of the water. The lunch/food was great. I can't comment on ease of booking etc as we were part of an organised tour. It was an amazing experience and I hope to come back one day. Oh and pack a wind proof jacket. It can get very cold out of the water.
My only tip for the company would be to explain a bit more about what to expect after jumping in and where to position yourself etc. Maybe because we had an experienced tour leader with us they thought she would cover that, but unfortunately not. However, it did not deter from being on a high the whole time and all the way back to Australia. A wonderful experience. I would throughly recommend this company.
OMG, OMG, OMG! AMAZING experience! I selected a tour that allowed for five days out on the water. It's the open ocean so there are no guarantees, plus I'd read July wasn't a good time to be there, so I was concerned that should've selected one of the longer tours. Every day we had at least one quality experience/swim with a humpback, and over the week, we heard a singer, spent an hour or so with a proud mama and her baby, witnessed a heat run, as well as had an in water experience with False Killer Whales. We also had opportunities to snorkel and visit some caves.
Claire was our fantastic guide, looking out for us and the whales as well as sharing her knowledge of Tongan culture. Our skipper, Noah, was skillful at locating (but not harassing!) whales that might be open to having a few humans around, and he has the best giggle ever.
Our group stayed at the Tongan Beach Resort, which was also perfect for our week in Vava'u.
Regarding some other reviews, I feel like WhaleSwim Adventures provides a very clear description of what to expect and the physical requirements. I am by no means super fit, but it is the deep ocean, often with large swells or choppy water--humpback whales are big and are not swimming in shallow, calm water! Use some common sense, and read their materials closely and prepare accordingly...
I've joined tour with 7 days on the water during September 2017.
Firstly I thank enormously much to Annah and her crew Noah, Nala and the rest of the team who managed and supported us wonderfuly to realize our dream; swimming with Humpbacks!
No doubt IT was a life changing experience and I now can strike through the top line of my bucket list.
However I'd like to address some practical things around the tour.
At times I felt sorry for the whales that we were harassing and chasing after them.
Also there have been some signs of conflict between WhaleSwim Adventures and Mala Island Resort. As the conflict evolved, some discussions arose on whether it would be more beneficial economically for Togan people, if we would hire Tongan based agencies than NZ based.
For me personally (as a little person weigh only 43 kgs) it was physically too tough, couldn't hardly keep up with others in the team, specially during the first two days with choppy weather. I felt like drowning.
Even though I swim well in swimming pools and beaches, it was something totally different being in the middle of Pacific. I was suffered a lot of fear on jumping into the deep blue ocean, as I felt like sucking into the void of universe.
The rest 5 days went a lot better and smoother, as we've got Noah as the best skipper and weather was friendly. Every day we encountered these amazing and beautiful creatures; Humpbacks!
My advice is you have to be absolutely fit pysically and to be great swimmer or diver, not fear of deep ocean, not panicking when swallowing sea water, like I did.
I can't say enough about the experience I just had with Annah, Noah and our crew on my WhaleSwim 6-day tour. Having such intimate encounters with one of the most majestic creatures on the planet is just mind-blowing and well worth the 30+ hours it took to get there. My group was extremely lucky in that we had 6 brilliant days of unique encounters, but I wouldn't book anything less than 4 or 5 days. It does not get old, no matter how lucky you get, and having 6 days puts less pressure on the tour guides and allows a more relaxing experience for all. Everyone who only had a few days that I met regretted it terribly. This is an experience unlike any other and so incredibly surreal. I am an avid traveler and I know I just reached the pinnacle with this one. Other trips in the future will be special, but nothing will compare to SWIMMING WITH WHALES. I will never forget this!!