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UPCOMING TRIPS

Good Things Come to Those Who….Try, Try, TRY!

Destination: Ha'apai Group Tonga
Trip Date: Jul 20th - Jul 29th, 2019 - Comments
Author: Vanessa & Chad
Welcome Back: Sue, Marsha and Lisa

Humpback whale expeditions in Tonga are TOUGH. They are an extreme lesson in ‘the three Ps’: patience, patience and yet more PATIENCE! But, eventually, that perseverance DOES pay off. Our guests worked super hard against challenging odds this charter but, in the end, they were all blessed with some incredible whale interactions and have left with memories that will last a lifetime. No one will ever forget the playful trio of breaching adults that entertained us for hours on end or the most perfect mom and calf duo resting peaceful over shallow reef!

by Hank

by Hank

by Wendy

by Wendy

by Mike

by Mike

by Hank

by Hank

by Nancy

by Nancy

by Wendy

by Wendy

We began this trip with some very inclement weather: Tongan winter can bring strong winds and heavy rains. However, it didn’t stop us from getting out there and looking for whales! The crew spent hours up on the bow peering into the mist, waiting and watching. Eventually, the clouds cleared and soon after we found our first super-active pod of whales. All the guests came out and we enjoyed a fabulous display of breaching and pec slapping. At one stage, we had three individuals all launching themselves into the air: one at port, one starboard and one straight ahead…. We didn’t know where to look! The power behind such a move is incredible and how they have the energy to keep on going and going we’ll never know.

Photo credits (clockwise from top left): Tom, Nancy, Wendy, Hank 

By the end of the second day, the weather had cleared up fantastically and we enjoyed a really lovely beach walk along the island of Uoleva: when the sun is shining, it really is paradise! We also ventured out for a couple of night dives and our divers came back with reports of a few cool critters including a big Spanish dancer, a couple of interesting nudis and – coolest of all – a pair of Hairy Ghost Pipefish.

Photo credits (clockwise from top left): Tom, Kimberly, Nancy, Kimberly 

On the third day of the trip we awoke to blissfully calm seas and clear skies. We took advantage of the dream conditions, getting straight out on the skiffs, and had our first ‘real’ in-water encounter with the humpies and, boy, was it exceptional! We were lucky enough to come across not one, not two but THREE young adults playing together, perhaps 20’ under: they were twisting and turning – almost dancing – right below us, as we hung on the surface, just trying to take in the magic of what we were witness to. It’s so hard to process what you’re actually seeing: the sheer size of these creatures, yet their grace and agility, is hard for us to comprehend at first.

Photo credits (Left, top right, bottom right): Wendy, Wendy, Hank 

The next couple of days were really special as we got to spend time with our first baby whales of the season! It was hard work getting in the water with them. Mommas can often be understandably protective and quickly swim away from us but, over time, they slowly get used to our presence and let us enjoy their gorgeous little bubbas. After putting the time and effort in, we all got perfectly clear views of the little ones: in fact, one of our guests got VERY up close and personal with a particularly inquisitive one who came careering right at him!

Photo credits (Left, top right, bottom right): Wendy, Wendy, Hank 

Towards the end of the trip, we had more rough weather come in but we still had some incredibly worthwhile encounters. We came across a pod of three whales who were putting on some high-energy surface displays. For three hours non-stop our photographers were out on the bow capturing breach after breach after breach! The gymnastics were mind-blowing: leap after leap, one whale after the other. We even had multiple ‘double breaches’, two whales at once, perfectly synchronized! For the few brave enough to tackle the big waves, we even managed to get a skiff out enjoying the action. The contrast between the surface and below was fascinating. We’d follow the breaches for a few minutes until they calmed right down, then we’d jump in: and below the surface the whales were so relaxed, gently twisting and turning… Maybe just catching their breath?! It was an exhilarating, adrenalin-pumping afternoon for all!

Photo credits (clockwise from top left): Nancy, Mike, Nancy, Mike 

The last day of the trip was an unbelievable blessing. We finally had good weather and sunny skies once more, and Momma Ocean gave us the most incredible parting gift: a PERFECT mom and calf duo. We spent 90 blissful minutes with this gorgeous pair, as they gently cruised over shallow reef in calm, clear water. It was so remarkably serene after the hyper-activity of previous encounters and left us all feeling so very fortunate.

What a way to end the trip! A huge THANK YOU to those who joined us for this charter: we know it wasn’t easy but your patience and perseverance paid off and we hope you all now have humpback whale memories to last a lifetime!

"We had a fabulous adventure with the amazing humpbacks of the Southern Pacific! Your hard work and care made it all possible. Vinaka!" Barry & Rosemary

"Thank you for an outstanding adventure. It was truly a great trip. Thanks for welcoming me back to the NAI'A family!" Sue

Comments

“Fiji is a hot spot of biodiversity. We’re here for the rich colorful soft coral reefs as well as the unusual stuff - the strange little creatures and endemic fishes.”

Dr. Tim Laman, biologist and National Geographic Photojournalist

~ Dr. Tim Laman, biologist and National Geographic Photojournalist