Every year over the same time period, humpback whales come to French Polynesia from Antarctica to breed and give birth before returning to feed in the colder waters when the newborn calves are strong enough to make the migration. The peak season is between August and the beginning of November, which always punctuates the year for Polynesians and is also called the whale tree, heralding in the arrival of the whales to Tahiti. Encounters during this period are very frequent, and one can often encounter the whales in solitary or with their offspring.
Board your boat with your professionally trained guide who will have the skills to determine the whale's activity phases (such as socializing, resting or moving). Unlike other places for whale-watching (Hawaii, Alaska and Canada), here it is much more intimate and respectful as the mammals are sheltered from their natural off-shore predators. Polynesia has been declared a Marine Mammal Sanctuary and there has been a moratorium on whale-hunting since 1986, whale-watching is regulated and a permit has been required since 2002.
Observe the whales as your boat guide will adopt a proper behavior so that they are respected and not bothered. You can see whales from a distance when they breach or expel water from their blowholes. The boat will slowly approach to line up with the whales' path without actually pursuing them.
If conditions are suitable and the whales are in a resting phase, the tour guide determines the best time to get into the water with flippers, diving mask and snorkels. Before your encounter with this fascinating creature, it is customary to listen to the males sing by putting your head underwater. The magic happens when a whale approaches your group to let you admire its magnificence. You will be guided by one of the team members to ensure your safety and to maximize your enjoyment.
Upon your return boat ride a light snack and beverages are served as you share this memorable experience with the others on board.
Please Note: Descending into the water with the whales is not guaranteed. Also, if you wish to bring your own snorkeling gear, you can certainly do so; however, please let us know in advance.
Reviewer: Tracey Smith
There was a little mix up about where to meet. But they found us and of we went. The crew were outstanding and we found a Mother and calf and in the water we went. I could not believe we actually did it. Overall the highlight of our trip.
Reviewer: Mike Hafkey
Snorkeled with the mama and baby. The best thing to do ever. Absolutely incredible. A must do!
Reviewer: Robin Dunlop
absolute magic, a once in a life time experience. Met eye to eye with a whale calf, hope he got the experience I did. Crew were great, lots of information, and after a first time fail, got a group of us in the water and up close to a mother and calf. 12 out of 10!