There are few destinations in the world where you can go swimming with whales, and The Islands of Tahiti is one of them. Those who have had the privilege of swimming in close proximity with these majestic creatures describe it as a magigcal, almost surreal moment of pure pleasure.

Swimming with whales in The Islands of Tahiti is an unforgettable experience. The newly born whale calves are impressive enough when they’re close to you, and they only weigh about a ton. Imagine the thrill of being next to an adult female weighing over 40 tons and measuring 50 feet long! Each year, schools of humpback whales come to the warm waters of The Islands of Tahiti from July to November, to reproduce and nurture their young in complete security. French Polynesia is a United Nations Exclusive Economic Zone and wildlife sanctuary where whale hunting is against the law. The territory has also been honored by the WWF for making trawl fishing illegal.

Swimming with humpback whales

At the right time of year, you can book an excursion to observe and go swimming with humpback whales in French Polynesia. There are also excursions on which you can swim with various species of dolphins, including bottlenose and spinner dolphins and long-finned pilot whales (which are in fact dolphins, too). Whale watching is a strictly regulated activity in French Polynesia and only accredited professionals are authorized to organize excursions. There is a distance of security that must be respected and you are not allowed to swim towards the whales, they must decide to swim towards you. Being in the company of these peaceable giants is a moving experience that leaves an indelible mark on everyone who has ever had that privilege.

Swimming with whales is a popular activity in Moorea, Tahiti and Bora Bora, as are excursions to discover the other marine species in The Islands of Tahiti. Among the popular nautical activities you can practice at any time of year is snorkeling. Put on a mask and tuba and you’ll be able to discover the rich and diverse life beneath the waves in the lagoons. You’ll encounter harmless blacktip sharks, spotted eagle rays and stingrays, as well as sea turtles and majestic manta rays. The Austral Islands are reputed for whale watching and you can even observe them from the coast on the island of Rurutu. The local inhabitants will show you the places where you get the closest views of these superb creatures.

Where to go swimming with whales

The only way to swim with the whales in French Polynesia is on a group excursion with a certified guide. There are many such excursions available in Tahiti and Moorea. The whales can be spotted from quite a distance due to their spouts rising high into the air.

Once the whales have been spotted, your boat will approache slowly, so as not to frighten them. Everybody puts on a mask, tuba and flippers and, on the signal from your guide, you slide into the water and swim gently, letting the whales decide if they want to come closer. One of the most wonderful aspects of swimming with whales is listening to their beautiful songs, which can carry for distances of several kilometers. Please respect these beautiful, endangered creatures. They are treasured visitors to French Polynesia, where the ancestral culture considers them to be the guardians of the ocean.

Whale-watching rules

In French Polynesia, the conditions for humpback whale watching and launching are subject to strict rules, so as not to disturb these creatures.

Règles d'observation des baleines à bosse en Polynésie française
Règles d’observation des baleines à bosse en Polynésie française

These rules apply to the observation and approach of all cetaceans. If you wish to photograph or film protected marine species and use these images for commercial or marketing purposes, you must first submit a filming request to the Environment Direction of French Polynesia.

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