Hump­back Whales

VAVAU, TONGA

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Leg­end says that the re­mote South Pacific is­lands of Vavau, lo­cated in the north of the King­dom of Tonga, were cre­ated when the god Maui caught the seabed with his magic hook, fished them up and left them on the sur­face. If this sounds like par­adise, it gets even bet­ter. Hump­back whales come to calve and mate here in calm, warm wa­ter from July to Oc­to­ber. When you cruise out at sun­rise, blows are soon spot­ted along the hori­zon. Not all whales are in­ter­ested, but some ac­tively in­ter­act with hu­mans. Strict rules pro­tect the whales from be­ing chased or ha­rassed, but it is pos­si­ble to spend a whole day swim­ming with whales in small guided groups. There’s am­ple time to com­pose and re­com­pose the ideal pho­to­graph. Book early and al­low a sev­en­day trip to en­sure weather and whale sight­ings are in your fa­vor. You might also sight pi­lot whales, dol­phins, mar­lin, mob­ula rays, whale sharks, bull sharks and even tiger sharks, but hump­backs are the star of the show — surely one of the best ocean en­coun­ters hu­mans can ex­pe­ri­ence.

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