In the Water with Gentle, Playful Giants


Get Up Close with Gentle Giants

Expedition Details.


Our Humpback Whales in Tonga Adventure Travel expedition to swim with humpback whales is like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Of all the whales, these gentle, playful giants are the most responsive to people. You will capture incredible images of mother and nearly-newborn humpbacks.

BigAnimals chooses the ideal time and place to encounter migrating humpback whales, when the humpback mothers are nursing and raising newborn calves. Curious like a toddler, these two month-old calves will likely be willing to interact with you in the water.

Our expedition happens before tourist season starts, so crowds have yet to arrive. We stay at the Blue Lagoon Resort on private Foiata Island. Our host, Feleti, is a colorful storyteller and was the King of Tonga’s chef for many years. Each evening, after an outstanding meal, you’ll fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean and dream of whales.

Humpback Whales in Tonga is limited to up to 6 guests, guided by an experienced and charismatic expedition leader. We prefer small groups out of respect to the whales’ well-being. Small groups also ensure better photos, videos and encounters with the whales.

Along with swimming with mother and calf, the BigAnimals’ expedition leader looks out for three other possible exciting encounters on this trip that will delight your heart. First, the remarkable sight of a 40-ton, 45-foot-long humpback whale breaching. This is the mother whale teaching her calf to leap out of the water. They do this for communication, playfulness or warning.

Second, you may also be lucky enough to hear a male singing to attract an available female. This underwater symphony is so powerful it will vibrate with you for years to come.

The third type of encounter takes place from on board the vessel. We will have a chance to witness the dynamic efforts of several male humpback whales fighting for the love of one female partner. Many whales will try, but only one will be victorious.

Please join us on this adventure. Don’t wait! Make your reservations today for 2018! Contact us now to apply.

Trip Details.

9-Day Whale Swim in Tonga

2019: July 22 – August 3
2019: August 1 – 14
Group Size: 8
Vessel: Tonga Tango
Temp Water: 78 – 84° F (25 – 28° C)
Temp Land: 82 – 90° F (27 – 32° C)
Price: $9,600 per person based on double occupancy
Registration:  These trips sell out. Please make your reservations today for 2019!

Is this trip right for me?

We invite anyone who can float in the water to join us. Ages 8 to 80 will have a blast swimming with humpback whales. All guests use masks, fins, and snorkels. Your goal will be to remain calm and be gentle when you are in the water. When the whales sense your peace, you’ll enjoy a close encounter with the gentle giant and her calf. Browse through the images from our previous trips; you’ll see how photographers get extremely close to this favorite big animal.

The visibility of the water in Vava’u is 80 – 100 feet (25 – 30 meters). Water temperatures are 78F – 84F (26C – 28C). The warm water is perfect for waiting for a close encounter with the playful and curious young whale. It is also an opportunity to take magazine-quality photographs.

The Kingdom of Tonga is a utopian archipelago in the South Pacific. Our accommodations at the Blue Lagoon Resort on Foiata Island will make you feel as though you’re living on your own private island.

Our host, Feleti, is a colorful storyteller and was the King of Tonga’s chef for many years. Each evening, after an outstanding meal, you’ll fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean. Perhaps you’ll dream about whales…

Sundays are down days. This will give you time to visit another island, or simply relax, kayak and take a long swim in the beautiful Blue Lagoon.

Blue Lagoon resort is on a private island. It is as quiet and intimate as it is picturesque and romantic. You’ll love the unique characteristics of a South Pacific island, surrounded by sandy beaches that face a protected tranquil lagoon. Since Blue Lagoon is far removed from the busy populated main island, it is a favorite spot for migrating whales.

Our whale-seeking vessel, the Tonga Tango, is a 28 ft / 8.5-m RIB that is both quiet and fast. The boat can accommodate twelve passengers, but we only take up to six to ensure maximum comfort and room for all the photo gear.

  • Tonga Tango is equipped with a specialized camera table and fresh water rinse.
  • Twin 175hp 4-stroke engines get us where we need to go quickly and comfortably.
  • The boat has been built to exceed USCG and New Zealand safety requirements
  • A custom dive ladder makes getting back into the boat surprisingly easy.

Imagine the photos you’ll share with your friends

Expedition Leader

Amos Nachoum

Amos Nachoum - biganimals guide

Amos Nachoum

Amos has over 40 years experience as an adventurer and guide. He has over 20 years experience diving with humpback whales.

Amos is also a very accomplished professional photographer who was the BBC wildlife photographer of the year in 2007 and 2008.

Throughout your trip Amos will be available to provide you with expert coaching on various aspects of photographing humpback whales and their environment, with special attention paid to how to get the best performance from your equipment.

Amos uses his leadership and photography skills to artfully capture the lives of ocean Giants whose existence is under threat, but whose hope of survival is linked to us communicating the truth.

BigAnimals Expeditions are designed to add value to your life experience, to generate attention for endangered species, to aid in their preservation and to provoke public awareness and opinion.

Amos is leading July 14 – 25, 2018 trip.

Expedition Leader

Lesley Rochat

Lesley RochatMarine and shark conservationist, filmmaker, photographer, environmental writer, inspirational speaker, campaigner, author and activist.

I am very excited to be leading this incredible adventure swim with humpback whales. My goal as your trip leader is to provide you with an amazing experience. Are you comfortable and at ease in the water with ocean giants? Are you working with wide angle lenses? What are your top goals for this trip? Let me offer my expertise to you as we immerse ourselves with these incredible animals.

History – Lesley is a PADI Divemaster, also known as the Shark Warrior, began photography when one only had 36 frames to get a good shot. Her first camera was a Pentax K1000 and she converted a room in her home into a dark room where she lost herself for hours. She made the progression to Nikon and underwater photography a couple of decades ago and began travelling extensively, becoming a well published environmental and dive-travel photojournalist, bringing both the beauty as well as the plight of the oceans to public attention through her images and articles.

Apart from her many awards and accolades, including being an inductee of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, and an inductee of Ocean Artist Society, she has been nominated for a second time for the prestigious Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards. Given her growing concern for the marine environment in 2003 she packed up a successful corporate career and founded AfriOceans Conservation Alliance, a non-profit organization based in Cape Town, South Africa, for which she is the CEO and principal photographer. Under her leadership, AfriOceans successfully drives education, awareness and lobbying initiatives. This PANDA award-winning documentary filmmaker is also the CEO of Blue Pulse Pictures, her production company for which she produces and directs ocean focused awareness films.

Through Shark Warrior Adventures, Lesley nurtures the next generation of conservationists in her environmental journalism, conservation photography and filmmaking internships. She also leads photographic expeditions, both land and sea, specializing in African destinations. Her aim is to assist others in developing skills and knowledge in photography and film in order to raise global awareness for those who cannot speak.

Lesley is leading July 28 – August 8, 2018 trip.

Don’t let your life pass you by without taking the trip you’ve always dreamed of.  Start planning your adventure now.

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Happy Divers



2018 Adventure Travel Expeditions


2019 Adventure Travel Expeditions


2020 Adventure Travel Expeditions



We Offer the Best in Adventure Travel

BigAnimals Global Expeditions offers the best of adventure travel.  We explore with a purpose.  We seek to view and learn about ocean giants and endangered species.  Our efforts have earned us a 100% success and safety record.  Join us for an unforgettable, life changing adventure travel experience you will never forget.

For over 40 years BigAnimals Global Expeditions has been leading premier adventure travel for explorers, scuba divers and non-divers, snorkelers, and photographers.  Everyone is welcome.  Come experience BigAnimals Global Expeditions. 



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