The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

THE is­land of Vava’u has be­come a top whale-watch­ing des­ti­na­tion and is among just three places in the world where it’s pos­si­ble to swim with th­ese leviathans.

Hump­back whales can be seen mat­ing, giv­ing birth and car­ing for calves in the reef-pro­tected Ton­gan wa­ters dur­ing the win­ter months. They ar­rive around July and re­turn to the feed­ing grounds of the Antarc­tic for the sum­mer. Hump­backs are known for be­ing play­ful and can be seen breach­ing and splash­ing. Swim­ming with whales makes the list of seven ex­pe­ri­ences that make time

‘‘ stand still in Lonely Planet’s an­nual Bluelist: TheBestinTravel .

It’s also great for the Ton­gans. Tourism is not well de­vel­oped here and whale watch­ing and swim­ming en­sure an im­por­tant and much-ap­pre­ci­ated in­flux of tourist dol­lars.

Trav­el­ling on an or­gan­ised tour is rec­om­mended for safety as well as the well­be­ing of the whales and you need to be a fairly com­pe­tent swim­mer and con­fi­dent when snorkelling. Ge­orgina Ar­mour


Time stands still: Swim­ming with a hump­back

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