Tonga was probably the country the country I had been looking forward to visiting the most on my South Pacific trip, mainly because I had booked my trip there on the perfect time for spotting heaps of Humpback Whales that would come up from the Antartic to give birth. The best part about it was that Tonga is the only place in the World where you could get close and actually swim with these giant creatures.
My whale swimming trip started off with around four long hours of driving around and scouting. The crew almost seemed like giving up when we finally spotted a huge mother with her newborn calf. The mother laying on her side on the surface while the calf was playfully going up and down in the water next to her.
The guide could not go as he had a sore back and the other guy was old and decided to stay on land, so it was just me jumping into the water and swimming nervously towards these two giant creatures. Unfortunately Humpback Whales swim faster than humans so both times that I jumped in they were quick to disappear even how fast I paddled with my fins. It was still quite an adrenaline filled, incredible and unique experience that was worth the 150 dollars paid for the trip.
The next day I got up early to pick up a rental scooter that would take me around the island. On the way I stopped by sanctuaries for bats and flying foxes, several tiny beaches and blowholes and some mighty caves.
There was a light mist as I went, but after several hours of driving the water got through my clothes and the cold and fever from the day before crept on. I drove to the hospital as a last stop, where the doctor inspected my infected cuts on hands and feet to tell me that I need to get on a penicillin cure right away. When walking out asking how much they would charge for the visit the doctor just said “nothing- hospitals are completely free in Tonga!”
Pigs feeding in the ocean- you can hear them crunching shells a long way!