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Tonga Whales, Reefs, Beaches and Culture

August 12th-26th, TBA

Photo Credit: Kim Powell

Detailed Itinerary

15 Day Adventure To The South Pacific

Day One-Two~August 12th-14th: En route to Tonga

Plan on gathering at the San Francisco International Airport at TBA at the Air New Zealand Ticket Counter on August 12th.

Your flight departs at TBA with an arrival into Auckland, New Zealand on August 15th at TBA

Your flight to Nukualofa, Tongatapu departs at TBA  on August 14th with arrival into Tonga at TBA on August 14th.

Day Three~August 14th: Matafonua Lodge, Ha'apai Island Group

Our domestic flight on RealTonga departs Nakualofa, Tongatapu for the Ha'apai Island group at TBA  with an arrival at TBA  on August 14th. Our destination is Matafonua Lodge 

situated at the far end of Foa Island. Matafonua Lodge is renown for its long stretches of white sandy beaches lined with lush coconut trees and coral gardens just offshore from our cabanas.

British ex-pats Darren and Nina Rice who manage the lodge are raising their 3 children surrounded by sun, sand and whales.

Their fascinating story and superb photography can be reviewed here: Island Life.

Your afternoon will be free to enjoy our island paradise which we will call home for the next 3 nights.

 

Photo Credit: Kim Powell

 

Day Four~August 15th: Matafonua Lodge, Ha'apai Island Group

We have planned a leisurely morning with the option to sleep in after our long journey across the globe to the South Pacific. 

Mid morning we will offer a check out snorkel and introduction to the array of marine resources that abound in the Tongan waters. Just steps away from our cabanas

exists a flourishing coral reef ecosystem that supports an array of species such as hawksbill sea turtles, Spanish dancers, leopard sharks and massive corals.

Join us in the water as your Blue Water Ventures naturalists share their knowledge of coral reef ecology and the behaviors of reef fish. Certified divers may arrange for a shore dive with the island dive master.

Our beach front accommodations provides bikes as well as kayaks for use, free of charge.

Small traditional village communities are nearby and an uninhabited island is within kayaking or snorkeling distance.

Exploring Ha'apai,  Photo Credit: Kim Powell

Day Five~ August 16th: Whale Watch/Snorkel Excursion, Ha'apai Island Group

Today we have planned our first of six  Humpback Whales    swim encounters.

Pregnant females give birth to a single calf every three years in the protected lagoons of Tonga with both the Ha'apai and Vava'u Island groups known as a nursery area. 

Swimming among the humpback whales is highly regulated with only 4 people permitted near a whale at a time.

We will take turns between our group members and others in the area. 

Patiently, we wait to slip into the turquoise blue water and have an  extraordinary encounter with a marine mammal that may exceed

50 feet in length and weigh 90,000 pounds! People have described this experience as life altering.

 

Photo Credit: Kim Powell

Day Six ~August 17th: The Hideaway, Eua Island

We will get an early start today as we travel to Eua Island in the southeastern corner of the archipelago forming Tonga.

Our flight departs Ha'apai at TBA   with arrival into Nukualofa, Tongatapu at TBA

From there we will take a charter flight to Eua Island.

Our hosts from the Hideaway will meet us at the airport and take us to our accommodations.

Located on the western coast of Eua Island,

The Hideaway is an ocean front property situated near the village of Tufuvai. 

Known as the Forgotten island, Eua is by far the least developed of all the inhabited Islands in Tonga.

The people of Eua are proud of their heritage and many cultural practices are still intake.

 

For the next five nights we will be staying at  the quaint and comfortable accommodations provided by

The Hideaway with double occupancy rooms, planned activities and all meals provided.

 

On one of our nights here you may join the local people for traditional Kava Drinking at the "Kalapu", Tongan for club or drinking hall.

Whether you sample the Kava or not, we highly recommend  that you join us for this highly unique cultural opportunity.

Photo Credit: Kim Powell

 

Day Seven ~August 18th: Whale Watch/ Snorkel Excursion

Our experience with the Humpback whales may be quite different departing from Eua Island, an area less visited by tourist.

Kiko, known in guide books as " the whale whisperer" will join us on the water as a local expert with the whales.

We have planned 2 days to swim and view humpback whales from our Hideaway base, Day 7 and Day 10.

 

While on Eua Island, some wonderful cultural activities will be offered. For those who would like to learn the art of Tongan weaving, you may join the women of Tufuvai Village as they share this ancient ritual.

Others may choose to rent bikes or hire a private guide to explore more of the island (all activities are on your own and you will pay our hosts directly).

There are beautiful beaches within walking distance of our hotel. During our stay, we plan to visit the nearby lower division school, always a memorable exchange.

 

 

Day Eight~August 19th: Hike and Island Exploration

Today we plan to explore the mountainous and rugged terrain of Eua Island where the country's most expansive tropical rainforest is found.

Our adventurous day will include scrambling over rock formations and exploring caves where eerie stalactites and stalagmites have formed.

We plan to visit the farm of a local family who make a living harvesting kava, taro and vanilla. Our day will include snorkeling at a remote beach before we make our way back to the Hideaway passing through a variety of  tropical habitats.

For certified divers, there may be an opportunity to go scuba diving rather than hiking on this day. We can help you arrange this experience but this will be an activity that you do and pay for on your own.

We have heard reports that the diving around Eua Island is spectacular.  Additionally, there are snorkeling and beachcombing beaches within walking distance of the Hideaway.

Please contact Kim at bluewaterventuressc@gmail.com if you are interested in diving.

 

Photo Credit: Kim Powell

Day Nine~August 20th: Church and Tongan Feast

Sunday is considered a sacred day in Tongan culture with no guided activities permitted around Eua Island. Your morning will be free to relax around

The Hideaway or you may join us at church known for its elaborate singing  and cultural exchange.

Later in the day, bikes are available for use and a magnificent beach worth exploring is near by.

While on the isolated island of Eua, we hope to catch a glimpse of the The Koki or red shining parrot, a species endemic to Eua Island.

Our day will include learning how to prepare the traditional Tongan Feast prepared in a Umu, an underground oven.

Photo Credit: Kim Powell

 

Day Ten~August 21st: Whale Watch/Snorkel Excursion

Before dawn, we plan to offer a guided exploration of the inter tidal world a few steps away from our accommodations. Many of the invertebrates that hide during the day emerge at night.

After breakfast, we will join Kiko on another whale swim excursion.

Humpback whales are known for their complex songs which are sung by males in the breeding grounds.

The songs are repeated across 100's of miles and each year a new song is composed which may incorporate parts of the previous year's song.

East of Eua between the Tongan islands and Fiji lies the world's second deepest trench that measures 35, 700 feet at its deepest point.

The marine resources around Eua Island combined with its rich tropical flora makes for an outstanding ecological experience.

Our afternoons will include happy hour on the whale observation deck followed by dinner and recap of our daily adventures.

Our private 20 acre island at Mala Island Resort, Photo Credit Kim Powell

Day Eleven~August 22nd: Eua Island to Mala Island Resort, Vava'u Island Group

We will depart Eua island by charter plane  for Nakualofa, Tongatapu and continue on RealTonga airlines to the Vava'u Island Group.

Our plan is to then transfer by van then motorboat to our private 20 acre island with accommodations at the Mala Island Resort.

For the next four nights we are staying at Mala island Resort with double occupancy rooms, planned activities and all meals provided.

Photo Credit: Mala Island Resort

 

Day Twelve-Thirteen ~ August 23rd-24th Whale Swim, Vava'u Island Group

We have had some of our most dramatic whale encounters while exploring the incredibly scenic Vava'u Island Group.

Our last three days will be devoted to above and below water whale experiences.

Humpback Whales are the most acrobatic of the baleen whales. Positioned in our skiffs we can watch for behaviors such as breaching and tail slapping.

With their eyes located on the side of their heads, Humpback Whales are known to  spy hop. Raising much of their head out of the water they are able to look around.

The level of interaction is entirely up to the whales. Each day is uniquely different and some days viewing is best  done above water than below.

With 6 days of whale swims planned, we hope that everyone has an unforgettable encounter with the benevolent humpback whales.

 

Photo Credit: Kim Powell

Day Fourteen ~ August 25th: Morning Whales~ Explore Vava'u Island Group

Our morning will be spent enjoying a final swim with the whales of the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga.

We'll find a secluded beach for lunch then explore superb snorkeling and beach combing areas such as the

renowned Coral Gardens and Nuku Beach.

We plan to visit the spectacular underwater formations at Mariners or Swallows Cave.

Using an underwater light, snorkelers may swim through the eerie limestone  formations where nocturnally active marine species are found.

On our final night together, we will meet on our private beach at sunset to recap our adventures in the South Pacific.

 

Day Fifteen~August 26th: The Journey Home

We will catch a flight back to Tongatapu departing at TBA and arriving at TBA  with our connecting international flights.

 

 

 Photo Credit: Kim Powell