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.