Kingdom of Tonga

No. 38, October 2016

Discover the last true Kingdom of the South Pacific


Please add us to your SAFE SENDER list

We're excited to reveal this month's edition all about the Kingdom of Tonga and its most accessible island, Tongatapu. Believe it or not, Tonga is only a 4-hour, $700 return* flight, from Sydney.

This is where our good friend David Donnelly runs whale swims, you will have read about in our February edition. We caught up with Dave in the last of a day by day account of the extraordinary encounters we had, as well as discovering more about the friendly islands' unique culture and history.

The experience with Dave reminded us again what guides with real expertise can achieve. We saw Humpback Whale behaviour we've never experienced before - competitive pods, singing - at one point we had 10 whales swimming past and one afternoon, we had two curious and very playful juvenile whales cavorting around us for almost an hour and a half.

The image (left) is a screen grab from video of Rough-toothed Dolphins feeding on remoras (suckerfish) attached to the whales' undersides. This was taken by our guest, Kyla Hemmelgarn, who was also lucky enough to witness an encounter with Short-finned Pilot Whales. "It was very serene and peaceful and felt like we were part of the ecosystem out here", she said.

We know we've done our job properly when guests feel safe and comfortable enough to be immersed in this alternative underwater reality, to observe behaviour happening around them (often inspite of them), without improper interference with animals - especially newborn calves.

We're delighted these trips have been recognised by The Dolphin Research Institute (DRI) who are even leading their own in 2017 - these and other weeks are online to reserve a spot right now for just $500 - but be quick, as there are very small group trips and they are already filling up fast.

"The wonder of looking into the eye of a humpback whale off Tonga was a remarkable and moving experience that reminded me of why I became a biologist in the first place.

Dave's commitment to the welfare and understanding of the whales, combined with his gift as a skipper and guide, make these whale swims a standout ethical ecotourism experience that I am delighted to recommend."

Jeff Weir, Executive Director, Dolphin Research Institute

If you complete your travel profile with us this month we'll put you in the draw to win a Dolphin Research Institute annual membership.

Tonga is simply a lovely place to visit. We've assembled a couple of options for you but there are plenty of other places to stay, from very basic local Fales (pronounced "far-lay") to more upmarket standard resort-style accommodation. As we have explained in this article, when you travel in Tonga, you travel more like a local - as you might when you go to a nearby Aussie beach town.

However, in the few years I've been developing travel for Australians, I've learned that the key to any great experience is to seek information before booking anything. There is nothing that prepares you better for what it's like in a foreign country - Tonga is no exception.

Please do get in touch with us before you consider your trip to Tonga. We'll be able to advise you on cyclone and wildlife seasonality, day tours, car hire and island driving, places to stay and other activities and expectations.

Best wishes,

Simon Mustoe
Founder, Wildiaries

*Virgin Australian Airlines adult price from August 2-10 2017, prices as published online on 17 October 2016.

Congratulations to our previous competition winners. Warwick from Moonan Flats in NSW won the Swarovski binoculars in our Antarctic competition. We'll be announcing our Tasmania competition winners in our next edition.

Wildlife and Wineries Promotion

Our travel prize partners including South African Airways and News Ltd are giving you the chance to win $100,000 or a $10,000 "Wildlife and Wineries" trip to Africa.

Tonga Travel Guide

Tonga Travel Guide

The most efficient way to travel is to take advice and we've travelled to Tonga to understand the destination for you. So before you consider booking flights and accommodation, please get in touch with us about your timings, budget and logistics. Tonga is a simple place to holiday but like everywhere, you need to be organised and informed to avoid obvious problems.

... read more

Enquire about TONGA

Enquire about travel to Tonga

Enquire now and we'll enter you into the draw where two people could WIN a year's 'Adopt a Dolphin', kindly sponsored by the Dolphin Research Institute.

... read more

Humpback Whale, Tonga

An Underwater Safari

Humpback Whales seasonally visit Tonga to breed. David Donnelly and Wildiaries promote ethical whale swims. These eight-day trips are designed to provide visitors with maximum opportunity to not just encounter whales but build a true connection with and understanding of Humpbacks, plus immerse themselves in the customs of Tonga.Having a few days means the team can spend a lot more time seeking whales that are receptive to swims. The trade off is that the overall duration and diversity of encounters is far richer. Wildiaries' founder Simon Mustoe joined the whale swims this September. What follows is a day by day account of the five days spent on the water.

... read more

Short-finned Pilot Whales

Eye to eye with a Humpback Whale

Dolphin Research Institute director Jeff Weir describes his experience with Humpback Whales in Tonga ... The experience of being approached by a curious whale five-hundred times your size, affects people in different ways. Some scream with excitement, some concentrate on the viewfinder of their camera, others like myself, take a very deep breath and absorb the moment ...

... read more

Tonga Beach Resort

Travel to Tonga - Example Itinerary

All our tours are tailored to your needs, interests and budget. Here's an example of a tour we can put together for you but there are lots of other options listed ...

... enquire now

BOOK Your Whale Swim NOW

Book a whale swim

Spots on the 2017 whale swims are very limited. Bookings are open now for the 2017 season and all we need from you is a $500 holding deposit, to secure your spot.

Download the Latest Outer Edge Magazine

Outer Edge Magazine

Download for free, Outer Edge Magazine's edition #49 for iOS and Android. This is OE's third Adventure Pass, full of adventure activities from diving the depths of the ocean to exploring from a bird's eye view: relaxing at a resort to empowering your mind with a retreat ...


Short-finned Pilot Whales

In the company of Short-finned Pilot Whales

Tonga's main island is encircled by ocean over 4,000m deep. The island's an oasis where the deserted sea buts up against a submarine coastline. Deep ocean water streams surface-ward, mixing nutrients in the sunlit shallows, creating conditions for a thriving portfolio of wildlife to co-exist ...

... read more


Tonga: The Last True Kingdom of the South Pacific

When Captain Cook landed in 1777 he named Tonga the friendly isles. Tonga was never conquered by the British Empire and for whatever reason, Cook's cordial convocation with the Sacred King of Tonga was the foundation for self-determining partnerships with the west ...

... read more

Don't Miss Out

If you're thinking of travelling soon, now is the time to be booking tours. Many trips are booking up a year in advance. our scheduled tours have very limited spots, as many of the tours are only 6-8 people and we create them based around availability of the very best guides.

Get the Free eMagazine By Email

Help Us Avoid Spam. What is this? FISH or DOG?