Frequently Asked Questions

Traveling to Tonga

What Airlines fly to Tonga.

Air NZ flies direct to Tonga (TBU) several times a week. If you are coming from Australia, Virgin Pacific has either direct flights from Sydney or flights via Auckland.

Direct flights also come from Fiji to Tonga via Air Pacific.

How do I get from the main Island of Tonga to the Vava’u group?

We have one domestic Airline called Real Tonga | www.realtonga.to | Please let us know if you need help with booking the domestic airline.

During the high season they will fly two or three times a day. Please check the schedule for details. Please note there are no domestic or international flights on a Sunday. If you don’t want to spend the whole weekend on the main island and want to head directly through to Vava’u, ensure that your international arrival time into Tonga on a Saturday morning allows you to get the connecting Saturday afternoon flight.

How long and frequent is the Flight.

Flight time is approx 1 hour, but may be extended if you stop off in the Ha’apai Island group as sometimes is scheduled.

The flights can be up to three times a day.

What is the luggage allowance on Domestic flights?

You are allowed 20kgs of luggage plus 7kg for carry on. The charges for overweight bags are very reasonable.

How do I get from the Airport to my accommodation?

Most accommodation places will provide a service, however there will be a charge for this.
Taxi’s are sometimes available and will cost around $25-30 Tongan Dollars. We can arrange taxi’s if needed.

Whale Watching and Swimming Trips

How frequent do you your day trips?

We will run daily whale watching trips from early July to Late October everyday of the week except Sundays.

What is the best time of year to see the whales?

The whales will start to arrive in Vava’u in late June and some will remain well into November. Peak season can be considered between Mid July and Mid October.

What kind of whales do you see in Tonga?

Humpback whales would be the main attraction, however Pilot whales are also very common as are various types of Dolphin and if you are really lucky we may come across a whale shark!

Do you guarantee seeing whales?

As we are working with whales in their natural habitat we can never guarantee seeing whales. It would be quite unusual to not see a whale at all during the dates as I have said above.

Do you guarantee being able to swim with the whales?

On any given day we will never guarantee swimming with a whale. We are at the mercy of the whales themselves and other influencing factors such as weather and sea conditions. We will never harass a whale to get a swim and we will abide by the Laws of the Kingdom in permitted interactions.

We do have very experienced staff that are well versed in working with the whales and identifying those that may want to interact with us.

It is very important to understand that we recommend that people spend a minimum of 3 days on the water to get the interaction they are hoping to get.

Every day is different and presents new and exciting forms of whale behavior, above and below the water.

How long is the trip?

The boat will depart at approx 8.30 am, returning anytime between 2 and 5 pm depending on the day and interactions we may have had.

How many people do you have on a boat?

New for 2014 we are running smaller more intimate tours, offering our clients the best chance of swimming with the whales. There will be a maximum of 6 guests per boat ensuring swims 2 out of every 3 opportunities. Whilst the other companies go with 8 or 12 guests we feel you deserve the best that we can offer and that means smaller group numbers.

What happens if we don’t see whales?

In the unusual occurrence that we don’t see whales you can rest assured that your skipper and Guides will have been communicating with other operators to the best of their ability to enable you to see whales. We will more than likely depending on the time take you to one or two of the most stunning snorkel spots in Vava’u.

How do I book?

Please check with us and confirm available dates, you can either use our online enquiry form or send us an email to info@dolphinpacificdiving.com. After finalising your dates on the boat, we will send your booking confirmation, your booking confirmation will show your booking number and your booked days. Please check the dates carefully. To secure your booking you need to provide us with a valid credit card. Please use our online secure server to make a booking. We will not charge your credit card until you arrive. You can pay your booked activity either with your credit card or cash. If you choose to pay with your credit card you will incure a 5% surcharge.

Can I cancel my booking?

If you need to cancel your booking, please let us know as soon as possible. We know that unforseen things can happen and we are very flexible with out cancelation policy:

Cancelation or changes are permitted up to 48 hours prior to scheduled activity.
The cost of a single day activity will be charged if a booking is cancelled within 48 hours before activity date.
Changes are subject to availability.
No Show - All cost of activity reserved will be charged.
Guests will need to provide a current valid credit card to reserve their booking.
Guests agree that all information given for the booking are true and correct.
Activities can be paid by credit card or cash on arrival.

Equipment provided

What equipment is provided?

We will provide mask, fins and snorkel, but feel free to bring and use your own.

Do I need a wetsuit?

We insist that all of our guests wear a wetsuit and we will provide those at no additional charge if you do not have one. We are one of a limited number of companies that insist on what we consider to be a very basic safety item.

Can I bring my own dive gear?

Yes, please feel free to bring your own gear.

Do you rent equipment for Diving?

Our diving prices include full gear hire for our guests. We do not hire equipment to those people not diving with us.

Diving Information

Do I have to be a certified diver?

Yes, for all of our diving we will need evidence of your diving qualification. If you are a PADI certified diver, but have lost / forgotten your card we can look you up on the PADI online register.

How far are the dive sites from the main dive base?

The dive sites are about 45 minutes away on our boat. This gives you time to relax and enjoy the surrounding islands, chat to the crew and get to know your fellow divers.

How deep are the dives usually?

Most dives are between 14 and 20m. We do have some deeper sites, but we will talk to everyone about their experience and level of qualification before doing any deeper dives.

What is the visibility?

Usually the visibility is a stunning 25m plus.

What can I expect or Hope to see?

We have a huge variety on the dive sites, almost too much to list here. We have great soft and hard corals, big caverns, ‘swim –throughs’, walls, ‘drop offs’ and plenty of reef fish. You won’t be disappointed.

During the whale watch season you may be lucky enough to hear whale song throughout the dive and if even luckier see whales pass whilst you are diving. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen!!

Is there much current?

No, we really don’t have much current and you are never asked to swim against it. The dive boat doesn’t anchor; it follows the divers and picks them up when they surface.

How many dives can I do in a day?

We will only do 2 dives a day. In the interest of diver safety we do not want to push the limits. Whilst we are very safe and conservative divers we recognise that we are a long way from diver emergency help if ever required.

Being on the boat and in the water

Does the boat have shade?

On all the boats we operate we have shade. We would still however suggest sun cream and a hat.

Does the boat have a toilet?

Sadly not all of the boats do have a toilet. If this is essential for you please enquire when you are booking. For those boats without a toilet, regular stops are made 

Do I need sea sickness tablets?

If you have the slightest hint that you may suffer from sea sickness then you must bring some tablets with you. There is a local pharmacy that sells them, but stocks cannot be guaranteed. It is a very long and awful day if you do get sick. We would recommend taking the tablets just in case, even if you have never been sick before. Obviously not all days we are in rough water, but as it is the winter in the Tropics during our whale watch season and we have the Trade winds to deal with, it can sometimes be quite rocky out there.

Do I have to be a good swimmer?

You need to be confident to look after yourself in the water and be able to use a mask snorkel and fins. Non swimmers should bring this attention to the crew and anybody that requires a refresher with their gear should make this known to the staff who will be more than happy to help.

Is the boat safe?

The boats all meet local survey standards, have life jackets and are equipped with Flares, radio and fire extinguishers. All carry an electronic location beacon. We are never working too far off shore or away from other boats.

How many staff will be on the boat?

There will be a minimum of two staff on the boat. A qualified Skipper and a qualified guide. In most cases these will be a local Tongan crew, making the experience for you more authentic. Please note the crew can occasionally be quite shy as is the Tongan nature but will love to interact if you ask them about their culture, island home and heritage .

Do I need sunscreen?

As the song goes “if I can tell you one thing …..Wear sunscreen “

Do I need a towel?

Yes, please bring a towel.

Do I need sunglasses?

Yes, it can get very bright and glary on the water. Polarized sunglasses also help spotting the whales in the water.

How deep is the water?

Put it like this, you won’t be touching the bottom in most places we see whales. Occasionally we may find them in shallow water, but it will still be 10+ meters deep in the shallowest spots.

What clothes should I bring on the boat?

Bring your swimming gear and a dry change for after. You may wish to bring some warm clothes and a jacket with you to Tonga. It can get cold on the boat especially if it becomes rainy or overcast and windy.

Can I keep things dry on the boat?

Yes on all the boats there is an area to keep clothes and other things such as cameras dry.

Food

Do we need to bring food on the boat?

We will provide a light complimentary lunch which historically has been a Panini with cheese, egg chicken or Tuna and salad filling. This comes with some local chips and some biscuits throughout the day. We are the only company that provides this complimentary lunch.

If you have quite the appetite you can feel free to bring additional food with you.

IS THIS REALLY COMPLIMENTARY FOOD?

The small lunches we provide we did initially just for our crews, but it became clear that with the early start times our guests struggled to get something to take with them if it wasn't prepared the night before. We therefore decided to make this light lunch as a freebie for everyone. This is why it is basic and options are limited. We like them and let's face it we eat 90+ in a season so they have to be ok. If you want to order lunches from elsewhere we will not be offended but the price will remain the same.

Anyone that complains on Trip Advisor about this completely free food will be towed behind the boat as bait the next time they come to Tonga :-)

Do you cater for special dietary requirements?

As this is just a complimentary extra we don’t have the facilities to provide for differing requirements.

You can ask and we will see what we can do but Tonga is limited in many products. If you do have requirements, you may want to bring things with you to Tonga?
If you are vegetarian, please let the staff know in advance when you book as we can normally easily manage this.

Do we need to bring water with us?

Yes, please bring your own water. We suggest at least 1.5L per person.

Accommodation

Do you have your own accommodation?

No we don’t, but we know all the best places to stay in Vava’u depending on who you are traveling with and your budget.  Please feel free to ask us for recommendations.