And the countdown continues…. So what could follow Bonaire and the much spoken about Galapagos Islands? Just ask yourself what creatures you would like to encounter in the wild? I have been fortunate to have walked with Lion, Rhino and Elephant. I have had amazing experiences swimming with Dolphins, manatees, Mantas, Whalesharks and even Leatherback turtles BUT the one that has to be top of the list is the Leviathans of the Oceans – The Humpbacks.
Where better to see and experience these majestic creatures than The Kingdom of Tonga.
The Kingdom of Tonga is known as the Friendly Islands. With 176 islands to explore, you will be spoiled for choice in the Kingdom of Tonga. Only 40 islands are inhabited, so it is easy to imagine yourself on one of the deserted islands and become friends with the local sea life. Tonga is situated virtually north of New Zealand and a short flight from Sydney or via Fiji or New Zealand if flying from Brisbane.
SO why specifically do we want to go all the way to Tonga to see the Humpbacks. During July to October a large number of Whales congregate in these tropical reef protected waters to give birth to their calves. So a significant number of the migrating whales from the Antarctic make these waters there destination and consequently make this one of the most prolific congregation point for these majestic creatures. While Tonga is one of the few countries where you can still swim and dive with the whales they do take extreme care not to intrude on the mothers and calves.
In addition to the whales, the diving is also stunning in places like Vava’u. Vava’u has rich varieties of hard and soft corals, stunning sea fans, teeming with reef fish, sharks, manta rays, nudibranchs, crustaceans, pipefish to name but a few things to be seen. The distinctive landscape of Vava’u has created a unique dive environment; with dramatic drop offs, caverns, chimneys and ‘swim throughs’ you will experience diving at its best.
Water temperatures in Summer can reach up to 29°C, the water is clear and it is not uncommon for the visibility to be 40+ metres. This provides a great breeding ground for many juvenile species. During Winter the water temperature is an average of 25°C, this is the time when we share our waters with Humpback Whales, and many of our dives are accompanies by whale songs.
Being in the water with one of these Leviathans is one of those experiences I will never forget and I can’t wait to do it again.
Info and pics courtesy Tonga Tourism (www.tongaholiday.com)