Get Up Close with Gentle Giants


Get Up Close with Gentle Giants

Expedition Details.


Our Humpback Whales Tonga Adventure Travel expedition to freedive with humpback whales  is like nothing you’ve ever experienced. You can get close, as long as you are as gentle as these giants are. The whales will be watching you! We will be freediving on this trip because it allows you to capture incredible images of mother and baby humpbacks.

Our expedition is limited to 5 guests plus an experience and charismatic expedition leader. We prefer small groups out of respect to the whale’s well-being. It also improves filming opportunities and enhances animal interactions. You will be traveling to Tonga during the most optimal time of year. This is when the migrating Humpback whales are nursing and raising their calves. Curious like a toddler, these two month-old calves will likely be willing to interact with you in the water.

There are three possible exciting encounters on this trip that will delight your heart. First, the remarkable sight of 40 ton, 45 feet long a 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 last 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-Days Whale Swim in Tonga

Dates 2018: July 14-25 & July 28-August 8
Dates 2019: July 17-27 & July 31-August 10
Group Size: 6
Vessel: Tonga Tango
Temp Water: 78 – 84° F (25 – 28° C)
Temp Land: 82 – 90° F (27 – 32° C)
Price: $8,800 per person based on double occupancy
Registration:  These trip sells out. Please make your reservations today for 2018!

CLICK the button for full adventure details!

Is this trip right for me?

We invite anyone who can float in the water to join us. Ages from 8 to 80 will have a blast here swimming with whales. All guests use mask, fins, and snorkels as their equipment to see the cetaceans, whales or dolphins. Your goal will be to remain calm and gentle when you are in the water. When the whales sense your peace, you’ll enjoy a close encounter with the gentle giants and her calf. Browse through the images from our previous trips; you’ll see pictures where the photographers get extreamly close to this favorite big animal.

The visibility of the water in Vava’u is 80 – 100 feet (25 – 30 meter). You’ll temperatures to be 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 and 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 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.

Your BigAnimals expedition guide will be Amanda Cotton, a photo pro who specializes in wide-angle underwater imagery. Amanda’s photographs have been published in National Geographic, Discovery, Science Daily and featured on CNN. She is also a highly sought-after photo coach who will happily work one-on-one with you to ensure you get the best possible whale images.

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.

LEARN MORE – just click the button for details

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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.

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