PHOTO: Up close and personal with humpbacks!
I finally had the opportunity to check off "swimming with whales" off of my Tongan bucket list. Considering the fact that Tonga is only one of three places in the whole world that permits whale operators let their guests take a quick dip with these breathtaking creatures, I HAD to do it before I left Tonga. Of course, I went with my favorite boat operator Dive Vava'u. They are the only license whale watching operator with prior experience working with whales in other countries. In addition, the owners are both marine biologist so they very legit (I highly recommend their services).
PHOTO: More exciting whale pics
Regardless, a bunch of PCVs and Japanese volunteers got together for the big event. It was pretty much all volunteers in the boat. We were all very excited when the day started to find some whales. However, we did not have any luck for the first two hours. We were getting a bit skeptical if we would even see ONE whale. All of sudden, they just popped out left and right! Our first "successful" swim was with a calf with its mum and male escort. IT WAS SO COOL! Words cannot describe when you see these behemoth creature swim by you. It makes you feel like another small fish in the sea!
PHOTO: Whales where you at?
At the end of the day, we all got to dive about three times each since we had a huge group. It was still a great day to share with the other volunteers. In addition, it was a Stephanie (another PCV) birthday--what a great way to spend your birthday eh? Lastly, before heading back to Neiafu, we stopped by Mariners Cave. Most of us were able to overcome the fear of diving 3-4 meters to an underwater cave. It was quite an adrenaline rush. Definitely recommend bringing fins and a guide. Not something to venture off on your own. Just another day in the life of a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tonga. Cheers!