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Dive Review of Nai'a in
Tonga/Ha'apai

August, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Gina Sanfilippo, CA, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (7 reports, with 1 Helpful vote)
Report Number 5034
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Sea of Cortez, Caribbean, Fiji, Mergui, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Monterey
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
windy, cloudy  
Seas
choppy  
Water Temp
73   to    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
7
Water Visibility
40   to 60    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
[Unspecified]  
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
None 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
None 
Whales
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  1 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
The Nai'a has a dedicated room for photographers, with ample workspace, dry
space, and electrical plugs.  Staff are experienced with photography
equipment, i.e. they know how to handle cameras as you exit and enter the
boat without damaging anything.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
5 stars
Food
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
N/A  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
Beginners
5 stars   
Advanced
5 stars    
Comments  
We went on a 10-day trip to swim with humpback whales in Tonga, and it was
an incredible experience!  All of our time was spent in the Ha-apai Island
group in Central Tonga, a 6-8 hour overnight cruise from Nukua'lofa, where
you board the boat.  The crossing can be rough, so be prepared.  We saw
whales from the boat every day, and had in-water encounters every day but
one, including one amazing two hour-long encounter with a pair of adults.

When whales are spotted they are observed to see if they might be amenable
to "play."  If so, guests don snorkel gear and get into the
skiffs which drop you off to swim with the whales.  Encounters are solely
up to the animals--if they don't want to swim with you they won't.  If the
staff sees whales that continue to swim away they are left alone and not
chased incessantly.

On days where we didn't spend much time in the water we were usually
offered the option of a scuba dive.  Diving here is not very good as there
is little coral, not many fish, and no large fish.  Many people on the boat
did not dive at all and thought they should have just left their BCDs &
regs at home.  Several afternoons we were also given the option to wander
on one of the islands near where we were moored.

Other notes: Bring a wide-angle lens for underwater, but don't forget your
telephoto for topside breaches and other displays!  This trip takes place
in winter, and even in the semi-tropics things can get chilly.  Bring a
5-7mm wetsuit or semi-drysuit, and a hood.  Bring pants and a wind- &
waterproof jacket for the deck.  Although this is billed as a "dive
trip," all whale encounters are done on snorkel only and would
therefore be appropriate for non-divers.

The Nai'a lives up to its reputation as a top-quality dive boat with an
excellent, friendly staff, spacious accommodations, and good food.
They've spoiled me, and no longer will I be content to just see whales from
the surface ;)

--
The nights immediately before and after the cruise we spent at the
Waterfront Lodge in Nukua'lofa.  It is directly across the street from the
harbour where you board the Nai'a.  Accommodations are simple, but clean
and safe.  There is a good restaurant in the hotel, and it's a 15 minute
walk to other restaurants in town.
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Other dive reports on Nai'a

All Tonga Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Tonga
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.


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