If you don’t know where Tonga is, no worries, neither did I before I started planning. It’s not glamorized like Fiji is or built up with name brand stores.
Vavau like most of Tonga is not filled with hotels or shops. The photo above is The Vavau International Airport. The security check is nothing more than a bag scan and the locals sitting around talking and joking and pick a few people out to check their bags the rest of us walked by. All very relaxed and casual. There were a handful of locals, a professional photographer, and the lone traveler, me. Tonga has been recently featured in National Graphic Magazine for there amazing whale encounters. I won’t call it merely whale watching because you are feet away from these giants with snorkel gear on as they lumber to the surface and breach the surface. As opposed to what I think of traditional snorkel, floating on the surface looking down to the ocean floor far below, maybe diving down a handful of times.
Such an amazing experience and one I will never forget. We were able to get so close and see the heat runs all around our boat. There were seven of us on the boat, one guide, and the caption who was a local legion of spotting whales. Our caption had an older diesel boat which made a much deeper hum in the water then the other boats running the area and we were told the deeper noise of the boat attracted whales better. I am not sure if it was folklore or truth but it sounded plausible. The other boats running the water with us were all related to our caption in some way. Tonga, as it was explained, was divided into territories or sorts. One family group of whale chasers won’t go into another’s area.
As our saltly caption and guide spotted something stirring, we took turns in two groups when the boat spotted the whales we slipped in the water and swam over just as they were rising from the deep.