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The Eye of the Humpback - Tonga "The Friendly Islands"


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Okay, Pen, you really just upped the ante.


Learning to swim, then flying to the other side of the world to an island archipelago whose exact location I had to confirm on Google Maps and spending a week there to snorkle with humpback whales? I feel like a total boring schlep. Well done!


Truly a dream of an experience. I thought it couldn't get better than a morning in September 2012 when 7 of us in a zodiac off the coast of British Columbia found ourselves in the midst of a pod of 20-30 breaching fin whales. I was wrong. And that shot of the breaching humpback, obviously taken from the surface of the water, is just amazing.


Yet another one to add to my increasingly long list.......


Thanks so much for sharing this cherished memory with us.

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@@Alexander thanks for your very amusing comment, :) It was a personal challenge and has given me the courage to go on to achieve more of my long list of 'Must Do' list which is still very long ................. Pen

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Very cool--or was it? What was the water temp?

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@Atravelyn like a warm bath around the island but colder with the whales. Some of the other guests wore bikinis though with the whales but got a bit cold on the last swim. You need a rash vest or something similar. Pen

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Tom Kellie

~ @@penolva


As work commitments and out-of-town business travel have kept me away from the Internet, I'm reading this trip report tonight.

Thank you so much for going to the considerable effort to prepare and post this extraordinary trip report.

I knew that you'd beguile us, but am gobsmacked by the overall quality of the experience and your preparation for it.

The desire to come close to whales motivated you to go around the planet and learn to deal with ocean swimming, no less!

What a tale! What photos! What a trip report!

I especially appreciate your kindness in adding photos from videos as they're otherwise unavailable where I live, as you noted.

Reading the comments of other memories shows that you've touched a shared feeling.

In a sense, swimming with whales shares something in common with gorilla or chimpanzee trekking — the opportunity to be face-to-face with another form of intelligence.

I appreciate your passion for the experience half a decade later. You've been so nice to respond to those who wrote to you.

One suspects that this is one trip report which might push some over the edge towards booking passage to Nuku'alofa!

Rarely has a trip report give my heart such an uplift!

Tom K.

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@@Tom Kellie thank you it truly was special. We were already thinking of going back and have decided we must in 2018 my other half's 70 th year.


We would go before but Kenya, Norway and South Africa are already booked for the next two years.


It is indeed a long way but a visit to Hong Kong en route will add to the experience. Pen

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