Paddle with humpback whales and snorkel over pristine reefs by day—relax in your private eco-resort by night
Join MTS for the pleasure and privilege of kayaking through the Ha’apai Islands, a rarely visited, stunningly beautiful conservation area in the heart of Polynesia. For four days, you’ll paddle around the Lifuka and Uoleva archipelago, a virgin paradise of low-lying atolls, expansive white sand beaches, towering volcanoes and colorful lagoons teeming with tropical fish. Humpbacks migrate through Tonga’s waters every year from July-November, so you’ll have excellent chances to kayak and even snorkel with them—the experience of a lifetime!
This trip aims for the perfect balance between relaxation and adventure. Paddling happens mostly in the mornings, leaving the afternoons free for snorkeling over magnificent coral reefs, exploring lush tropical forests, and interacting with the friendly local villagers—papalangis, or foreigners, are rare here, so you’ll be welcomed with open arms! In the evening, you’ll return to your eco-resort, a tranquil hideaway where you can kick back under waving palms and enjoy spectacular sunsets and fine cuisine in true Polynesian style. No prior kayaking experience is necessary for this excursion—just a love of nature, beauty and serenity.
4 days easy to moderate sea kayaking
- Discover the pristine Ha’apai Islands by sea kayak—no prior sea kayaking experience necessary!
- Snorkel over brilliant, rainbow-colored coral reefs teeming with tropical fish
- Relax each night at your tranquil, charmingly rustic eco-resort on an uninhabited island
- Visit remote islands, explore lush tropical forest, and learn about the traditional Tongan way of life
- Kayak with humpback whales—the thrill of a lifetime—and spend a morning with a team of whale educators unraveling the mysteries of these gentle giants!
Duration: 7 days Start Location: Ha'apai End Location: Ha'apaiDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Welcome to the Kingdom of Tonga
After claiming your luggage at Salote Pilolevu Airport in Ha’apai, a Mountain Travel Sobek representative will meet you outside the
baggage area of the airport and transfer you to your hotel, Matafonua Lodge. Meet with the group and tour leader for a trip orientation, at 4pm at the hotel.
Spend the afternoon relaxing around the lodge, with its white sand beaches, warm climate and pricture perfect lagoon, Matafonua Lodge is the ultimate spot to start this adventure. The group will enjoy a welcome feast for dinner at the lodge.
Day 2 : Let the Paddling Begin
Today we have an early morning departure from the lodge to our launching site near Pangai. Here, the guides give a safety briefing before we depart for the first of 4 days of kayaking. Today we paddle along the leeward shores of Lifuka and Uoleva Islands skirting pristine reefs and beaches.
Spend the afternoon snorkeling at the southern tip of Uoleva Island. Here we will find a magnificent coral ledge smothered in soft corals, which is a snorkeler's dream.
Tonight's accommodation is at Serenity Beaches Resort, a small island hideaway situated on a narrow piece of land between the
windward east facing beach and the crescent white sand beach on the leeward side of Uoleva Island.
Day 3 : Uninhabited Island
Weather permitting, today we paddle offshore to Luangahu, a tiny uninhabited island visited only by local fishermen. Whilst paddling, we may be fortunate to sight turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales, the latter of which migrate annually (July through November) to Tonga's warm sheltered waters to breed and calve.
After a picnic lunch, we circumnavigate the island on foot observing makeshift fishermen's shelters and octopus drying trees. Those with sharp eyes may find remnants of whalebone in the sand dunes from Tong's whaling days.
After a refreshing swim and snorkel, we paddle back to our resort in time for happy hour and watch the sunset.
Paddling Time: 2-3 hours
Day 4 : Coral reefs and Whale Watching
This morning we join a whale team of whale educators to observe the impressive acrobatic displays of these magnificent mammals who migrate from Antarctica annually to breed, give birth and nurse their new-born calves in Tonga's sheltered, warm waters. Outside the whale watch season, we enjoy a day of snorkeling, picnicking and sightseeing in the beautiful Lifuka Archipelago.
Day 5 : Uoleva Island
Take advantage of today’s more relaxed pace to explore Uoleva Island or work up an appetite paddling, fishing, snorkeling and beachcombing for this evening's resort meal.
In the cool hours of the morning we stretch our legs with a walk through low-lying bush to the windward side of Uoleva Island. Following lunch back at the resort, a short paddle to the southern tip of Uoleva takes us to a reef drop-off at the edge of Auhangamea channel. Confident swimmers may follow the guides on a drift snorkel along a spectacular coral wall. There are also lovely pockets of coral and reef fish closer to shore.
We will enjoy a meal this evening at the eco resort and watch the sunset on the far reefs.
Day 6 : Lifuka Islands
On our final day of paddling, we paddle north along the leeward shores of Uoleva and Lifuka Islands back to Pangai township
where we started our journey five days ago.
From the kayaks we observe traditional village life in including fish nets and traps, pandanus soaking in the sea to soften and bleach it in preparation for weaving mats, and colourful commuter boats piled high with baskets of market produce and cheerful locals returning to their villages.
From here, we transfer back to Matafonua Lodge in time for a celebratory meal. This meal is a great time to reflect on the trip and dream about your next Mountain Travel Sobek adventure.
Paddling Time:3-4 hours
Day 7 : Goodbye Paradise
The tropical expedition finishes in the morning with a warm farewell from your guides before transferring to Salote Pilolevu Airport to catch your homeward-bound flights.
DATES: Best time to go: July - September Departures: No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availablity. Call us for details.
$3,495 (4-12 members)
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.